N’ice Cream serves ice cream, gelato and other hand crafted treats
By Jessica Koslow
In 2017, N’ice Cream fell into Omid Torkian’s lap, metaphorically.
As his wife Elaheh (or Ellie as people call her) tells it, they had been looking to jump into the restaurant business. More specifically, Omid was looking for a business for her to nurture — and she just happened to be pregnant with their third child.
N’ice Cream’s previous owner was looking to sell the Playa Vista location, and the Torkians saw the perfect opportunity to “start small and get the ball rolling,” Ellie says.
After opening in February 2017, Ellie conducted what would be the first revamp of the shop. She upgraded the vibe to a bright and pastel interior, added a refrigerated section with fresh fruit, and put her skills as a former art teacher to work by designing their mascot, Mrs. N’ice Cream, who is painted on the wall and smiles at customers.
They also expanded the types of soft serve they offered beyond strictly gelato or frozen yogurt.
“My husband has a sweet tooth,” Ellie says. “His favorite dessert is ice cream. He wants it any time of the day, his eyes light up. He’s a cookie monster and an ice cream lover.”
N’ice Cream has recently introduced a few items combining his two favorite sweet treats. The Cookie Split features a choice of up to three flavors and toppings such as pink and white circus cookies with two freshly baked cookies. One of the three signature milkshakes is Cookies & Cream featuring vanilla custard blended with Oreos, whipped cream and Oreo crumbles topped with a cherry.
The Cookie Monster Taco is part of the taco trio on the new creations menu: horchata yogilato with Oreos and cookie dough drizzled with hot fudge sauce served in a homemade waffle taco. Ice cream tacos are the brainchild of the employees themselves and a brilliant innovation.
“Our employees are like family,” Ellie says. “They’ve been here for so long. Our manager, Lucia Mendes, is amazing. We adopted her. Jose and Lenny, we’re a unit. We sat down and came up with combos.”
It takes a strong family unit to survive something as destructive as a pandemic. In 2020, Ellie had to close shop for three months, which was hard.
“Financially, we got crushed,” Ellie says. “We could no longer offer self-serve.”
It was time for the second revamp. All the employees had to learn how to serve. Ellie called on an interior designer friend who brought her vision of a 1950s diner to life at N’ice Cream. The bar was extended another 7 feet and splashed with bright turquoise, two TVs were installed to display the mouth-watering menus, and the cement poles were wrapped with striped wallpaper.
“Covid killed the mood to want to go out and have ice cream,” Ellie says. “We had to come back to life, to introduce interesting product.”
Around 11 to 11:30 each morning, the employees make fresh cones from fresh batter, and the smell of vanilla wafts out the door. Taco Tuesdays offers 2-for-1 ice cream tacos. There’s a kids’ section, and a basket with toys is waiting behind the counter for the little ones. Their blue spoons change color to purple when they touch the ice cream or anything cold.
“What I like about our product is that it isn’t too sweet,” Ellie says. “We aim to get the perfect measurements. At the trade show every year I sample product, and I get a cavity just eating it. You get to a point of no return. I want people to have the experience of finishing what they bought and coming back for more.”
While the Torkians have considered opening a second shop, it’s all about real estate, and in LA, places to park.
“We have looked in the San Fernando Valley, Santa Monica, and in Westwood we found a place but there was no parking, so we’d have to depend on foot traffic,” Ellie says.
For now, Ellie, whose kids are 4, 7 and 9 years old, is very happy at Runway in Playa Vista.
“People are so friendly, nice and supportive,” Ellie says. “When we were doing the remodel, I would be in here painting and people would stick their heads in and tell me they couldn’t wait to come in and support. There’s a kids’ play area right in front.”
As summer approaches, N’ice Cream will open its doors one hour earlier and close one hour later starting in June.
“When we’re about to close, that’s when we get the busiest,” Ellie says.
Ellie has learned a lot since 2017, and she continues to learn every day. Her family vibe trickles down to how she interacts with the frozen yogurt machine repairman.
“If we need supplies, boom, the next day they are shipped,” Ellie says. “I don’t want to leave my employees hanging. The more money you put in, the more it grows and the better it gets. I put a lot of love here.”
12746 W Jefferson Boulevard,