Santa Maria Sun / Biz Brief
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 13, Issue 18
Spotlight on: Mr. Nice CreamSony and David Melena, owners
BY JASON BANANIA
Ice cream trucks are usually judged by what’s on the inside, but Sony and David’s (S&D’s) Mr. Nice Cream truck is an example of how looks can be important, too.
“The main thing we wanted when we first started this was something different, not just your average ice cream truck,” said co-owner David Melena. “We wanted it to stand out, look nice, and have some flavor to it.”
The unique sight of a purple box-shaped ice cream truck with a logo designed in stylish graffiti is turning heads in Santa Maria. The 1972 Chevy Stephen P-10 was once an old ragged box truck that was an eyesore for most—with the exception of an enthusiast such as David, a painter by trade.
When he spotted the truck parked outside a house one day, David said, he practically jumped from his car to knock on the stranger’s door. Luckily the woman who owned it wanted to get rid of it and offered to sell.
“He gets really excited about stuff like this,” said David’s wife and business partner Sony. “He’s always wanted to do it. He talked about it for over five years and I didn’t think we would ever do it.”
In fact, the Mr. Nice Cream truck—painted in gold and purple in homage to the couple’s favorite basketball team, the Los Angeles Lakers—isn’t the first ice cream truck they’ve owned. According to the couple, their first truck was stolen. The Melenas accepted the loss and moved on, but as time passed, David wasn’t content living with a shattered dream.
“The way the first truck went down was really hard on me and I just couldn’t accept it. I saw it in my head and had a vision of what it was going to look like,” he explained. “I told myself if I ever came across the same truck again I would own it, and that’s exactly what happened.”
Sony was against giving the business another shot, but David was persistent, and she eventually hopped back on board. After more than three years restoring the truck, David’s vision sits in his driveway as a constant reminder of his achievement.
“It’s been a long road with lots of ups and downs. It feels good to have made it all the way and accomplish being in business,” he said.
David’s favorite thing about driving the truck around town is seeing the reactions he gets from people, especially kids. Though his truck is licensed and fully operational, he only has time to sell ice cream on a part-time basis, but he plans to expand to full-time during the summer.
For now, he takes the truck to car shows, parades, and special events like weddings and birthday parties. The couple also uses it to fundraise for cancer research, and to support student organizations at Santa Maria High School. Mr. Nice Cream recently showed up at a recital at St. Mary’s school and donated a portion of the proceeds to the school.
Despite the positive impact the Melenas have had on the community, the style and personality they’ve given the truck have given some people the wrong impression.
“The funny thing is people associate his truck with Big Worm,” Sony explained, referencing a character from the movie Friday. “We get jokes here and there about ice cream not being the only thing we sell, but we’re a legit, licensed business.”
David added that while the truck does get some dirty looks, he’s gotten more positive feedback than anything else.
“Some people get it, and some people don’t, and I’m totally OK with that,” he said.
For more information or to get Mr. Nice Cream in your neighborhood, call David or Sony at 264-5610 or check out their page on Facebook.
• The Santa Maria Fairpark announced on July 9 its 2012 Agricultural Recognition Awards, recognizing top leaders in the ag industry.
Winners are as follows: James Sharer, Pioneer Farmer of the Year; Everett and Agnes Johnson of Mortensen Johnson Dairy, Pioneer Livestock Persons of the Year; Ken and Sandi Dewar of JB Dewar, Agri-Business Person of the Year; and Thomas Arthur “Toppy” Rees, Director’s Choice Award.
All recipients will be recognized during the Santa Barbara County Fair. For more information, visit santamariafairpark.com or call 925-8824.
Intern Jason Banania wrote this week’s Biz Spotlight. Highlights are written and compiled by Staff Writer Jeremy Thomas. Information should be sent to the Sun via fax, e-mail, or mail.
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