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Tyler's Gourmet Ice Cream brings sweetness of childhood to Longboat

The Thieles at Tyler's Gourmet Ice Cream in Longboat Key
The Thieles at Tyler's Gourmet Ice Cream in Longboat Key
Photo by Petra Rivera
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Milk, cream, sugar and a little bit of vanilla. These are the basic ingredients for everyone’s favorite frozen treat. 

Add in hard work, an easy-going spirit, a bunch of creativity, and you have the recipe for Tyler’s Gourmet Ice Cream.

Tyler’s, owned by the Alderson family, came to Longboat Key in 2017 and has brought the sweetness of childhood with it. Michael Garey, co-owner of the shop and of the Lazy Lobster, calls it the best ice cream in the area.

“My favorite flavor is black raspberry, but I'm unique," said Garey. "It's a childhood memory. For years, I had black raspberry ice cream at other places, but it was never really what I remembered as a child. The first time I had it at Tyler’s, I was like ‘That's it. That’s the black raspberry I remember as a child.’” 

Sol Rios serves ice cream at Tyler's Gourmet Ice Cream on Longboat Key.
Photo by Petra Rivera

The scoop

The original location and headquarters of Tyler’s is in Bradenton and was opened in 1984 by Larry and Geri Tyler. In 2008, the Tylers put the shop up for sale, looking for a new family to pass down their legacy to.

Around the same time, Rob Alderson and his wife Laura were living in Minnesota and longing for a change in their life. Dan Alderson, Rob’s father, was living in Bradenton and heard that Tyler’s was up for sale. He immediately told his son that the ice cream shop might be exactly what they were looking for. 

“Everything just seemed to click,” said Rob Alderson. “You know, numbers wise, size wise. Everything just kind of lined up, and our kids were young enough to where we were going to do something crazy, like move across the country and buy an ice cream shop. That was going to be the time to do it.”

Rob Alderson makes coconut pineapple ice cream for the upcoming week.
Photo by Petra Rivera

After the Tylers showed them the ropes, the Aldersons easily picked up the mission of the shop, which is to provide the best-tasting homemade ice cream in the area. Rob takes this to the next level with his creativity and connections. He prioritizes being involved in the community, which has led to many partnerships with local restaurants and organizations.

“That's actually how we got with Michael and Bob, they were clients of ours,” said Rob. “They were buying our ice cream for the Lazy Lobster restaurants and they approached us, ‘A spot opened up right next to us. We think would be perfect for an ice cream shop.’”

This began the iconic collaboration with the restaurant owned by Garey and Bob Fracalossy, the Lazy Lobster. Originally, Garey had the idea to expand the bar area of the restaurant through the free space that opened up next door. Deciding this idea was a bit too ambitious at the time, they realized the one thing that Longboat Key was missing: a local ice cream shop.

“I used to get asked all the time, ‘Where should we go for ice cream?’” said Garey. “And it was almost 5 miles to the original Tyler's in Bradenton and 7 miles to St. Armands.”

The Longboat Key location of Tyler’s is co-owned by Rob Alderson, Dan Alderson, Garey and Fracalossy. Rob manufactures the ice cream in the Bradenton location, and Dan delivers it to Longboat Key in the Tyler's-branded car. Garey and Fracalossy handle the staffing of the Longboat location and make sure that the day-to-day operations run smoothly.

Tyler's makes the ice cream they serve at the Bradenton location.
Photo by Petra Rivera

Melting with creativity 

Rob marks the days on a Star Wars-themed calendar when it's time to make ice cream. Tyler’s has the basics: French vanilla, cookies and cream, mint chocolate, etc. but Rob prides himself on his seasonal flavors and creative collaborations with the surrounding businesses. 

The most recent seasonal flavor was apple pie for the Fourth of July. Some other staples are pumpkin pie for Halloween made from Libby’s pumpkin pie mix, eggnog, peanut brittle and cinnamon for Christmas and Guinness ice cream for St. Patrick’s Day. 

“We worked with a few restaurants like Slickers,” said Rob. “I do a maple bourbon ice cream. So he gives me the bourbon. I make maple ice cream and mix in the bourbon with it. And then they can sell it since they have a liquor license. So it's something that we can't sell in house, but they're a bar, they can serve it.”  

Rob and Garey explained that it took some time for people to realize that Tyler’s was on Longboat but once they did, an ice cream run became a part of their routine. Regulars are a staple of Tyler’s. Rob shared that they even have vacation regulars who visit every time they are nearby. 

“You see the grandparents, and the parents and now the kids, three generations of people that have been coming to Tyler’s,” said Rob. “It’s very rewarding  as a business owner to know that we have that longevity and history in the area.”

Craig Thiele at Tyler's Gourmet Ice Cream on Longboat Key.
Photo by Petra Rivera

The partnership between the Lazy Lobster and Tyler’s seems natural now that they have been collaborating for several years now. Getting fresh ice cream from next door is the perfect motivator for children to get through dinner at the Lazy Lobster.

“It's so great to see the rush next door after dinner,” said Garey. “It's fun to watch the parents get their kids to behave through dinner with the dangling of the ice cream treat next door. It's a good incentive to behave well in the restaurant. I think it's made us a family destination.” 

Correction: This article has been updated to correct the spelling of the Thiele family.



Petra Rivera

Petra Rivera is the Longboat community reporter. She holds a bachelor’s degree of journalism with an emphasis on reporting and writing from the University of Missouri. Previously, she was a food and drink writer for Vox magazine as well as a reporter for the Columbia Missourian.

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