A retro camper called Eleanor’s Ice Cream has hit the streets and is serving up ice cream at special events around the Tampa Bay area.
Husband and wife team Alexa and Marcus Rivera are all about the scoops — and smiles.
“What really inspired me [to start Eleanor’s], is that we have a one-year-old and my husband just retired from the Airforce after 10 years of service,” Alexa tells CL over the phone as she planned for the camper’s next stop. Alexa is a personal shopper, but she now does it by appointment only. Marcus doesn’t want to enter the 9-to-5 world at all.
“We were wondering what do to with this new chapter,” she says about her entrepreneurial adventure, adding that both her and Marcus want to find time for family and go down a career path they love. That path, like so many similar endeavors, started on Pinterest. The social network is where Alexa started seeing pins of mobile bars. The idea stuck with her; she wanted to do something similar, but less boozy, but equally loved.
“A year ago it hit me to combine our passions. We love things retro, a good love story, a chance to spend more time with our daughter, and ice cream — like most people.” Alexa says with a laugh.
The Riveras bought the camper back in May of this year from a gentleman in Virginia who renovates retro campers into small businesses like bars and food trucks.
“Ours used to be an alcohol bar, so it was a fairly quick transformation. I wish we could say we did all of the elbow grease,” Alexa said about her and Marcus’ 14-by-9 foot camper.
“You could probably have a party inside the caravan,” Alexa jokes about the surprisingly spacious trailer. The freezer onboard holds enough ice cream for a 300-400 person party, and that means large scale parties are no sweat.
Once the renovations were finished in June, Alexa hit the ground running by marketing the ice cream camper on social media. She officially launched Eleanor’s — which, by the way, is named after her daughter — in July, completing the three-month process from purchase to opening doors. The camper is down to accommodate any type of celebration, but so far the bulk of the bookings have been dedicated to weddings, birthdays and employee appreciation events.
“It is so rewarding and it’s such an honor to be part of weddings. It is the biggest and most exciting day of peoples’ lives. Everyone is there to celebrate, so it’s such a feel-good moment,” Alexa says about being invited into once-in-a-lifetime occasions. She actually finds herself dancing in the camper, and having as much fun as wedding guests on the dance floor.
“I am so lucky that I have the most rewarding and fun-loving job. We like to say that Eleanor’s is ice cream and entertainment.”
And the Riveras are having all of the fun themselves. Rather than outsourcing the talent, Alexa and Marcus like to handle the scooping themselves.
“We want it to feel very homegrown. We want our brand to be our smiling faces sharing in our customer’s journey,” she says, “whether it is a couple getting married or a child’s birthday.”
When it comes to booking, the Riveras make the process simple.
“We’re different from food trucks. We [charge] hourly and offer some wedding packages,” Alexas says. Because of her background in personal shopping, she can also custom-build quotes and packages for events that run anywhere from one to six hours. Still, party planners will have to make a few important decisions.
Eleanor’s serves anywhere from two to five flavors during events. Customers can choose from a menu that includes classic scoops like vanilla and chocolate as well as custom flavors like strawberry champagne. All of the ice cream is made by Tanya and Matt’s, a Best of the Bay-winning Carrollwood ice cream parlor that’s been open for more than 30 years.
“Some couples create a signature cocktail for guests to enjoy during their wedding day, we can create a signature flavor of ice cream,” Alexa says. It’s true, nothing says love like a specialty scoop.
And you might want to get in on the action sooner than later because the Riveras have almost 20 weddings on the books for the upcoming fall and winter.
"We’re booking up pretty fast and we’re amazed by the feedback,” Alexa says. She’s admittedly been shocked by the way social media has been organically spread the word and connected her with so many, brides, birthday celebrants and ice cream-lovers across the Bay area.
“The number of people are so willing to keep it local and promote our little brand is amazing,” she says.
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