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Key spots to satisfy your urge for ice cream on Siesta, Longboat

No need for screaming. There are plenty of places on the keys to satisfy your ice cream cravings.

Jake’s Ice Cream on Siesta Key
Jake’s Ice Cream on Siesta Key
Photo by Nancy Guth
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The weather’s heating up. As Eddie Cochran famously observed, “There ain’t no cure for the summertime blues.” We beg to disagree. The cure exists, and ice cream is the prescription. The following proprietors of sweet frozen treats will help you keep your cool in the sweltering weeks ahead. Their chilly choices add up to more than a month of sundaes.

Jake’s Ice Cream on Siesta Key

6575 Midnight Pass Road, Sarasota; 941-554-4632;

In 2018, Jake Best stepped away from the corporate grind. He loaded up his minivan and eventually moved the family to Sarasota, the hometown of his childhood. What was he looking for? “I needed creativity. I always felt like an artist without a medium — and I prayed to find a mentor to pass along his wisdom.” In 2019, Best’s prayers were answered. It seems Dennis Yoder (Big Olaf’s founder) was looking for a mentee. He’d just opened Siesta Creamery but had nobody to share his ice cream artistry with. Once Yoder and Best teamed up, that changed. Best is still grateful for the lessons Yoder passed on to him. “He was 86,” he recalls. “He was a local ice cream legend and the world’s kindest man.” Because of the pandemic, Siesta Creamery closed for two months in 2020. After that, Yoder stepped away and Best stepped up. He reopened the shop — and rechristened it “Jake’s Ice Cream on Siesta Key” in 2022. Needless to say, everything worked out for the best. “I operate in gratitude for that gift every day and put that love into every scoop — the ice cream itself, and also the way we serve it to our guests,” says Best.

Don’t leave without tasting:

Best’s Rum Raisin ice cream. He infuses giant raisins in spiced rum for a month and turns them into “rum grapes.” He then gently folds them into an ultra-smooth butter rum ice cream and pairs it with toasted coconut. According to Best, “You won’t find this flavor anywhere else in the world.”

Jake Best muses on joy, memories and ice cream

Jake Best and Eric Mathis enjoy taking people on tasting tours and working with their guests to find a flavor they not only love but connect to emotionally.
Courtesy photo
What top lesson did you learn from your mentor, Dennis Yoder?

We’re not in the ice cream business. We’re in the making-people-feel-good business. Nobody comes in to satisfy their hunger. They come in to experience joy and, hopefully, the best ice cream they’ve ever tasted. 

How would you describe Jake’s?

It’s an emotional experience! We focus on creating that beautiful moment for customers. We want the shop to feel light and clean and cozy, with an energy that’s buzzing with joy. We love the process. We enjoy taking people on tasting tours and helping our guests find a flavor they not only love but connect to emotionally.

You call your ice cream “handcrafted.” Why?

Let me start by saying I craft ice cream with my whole body, not just my hands. I make every tub and every scoop of ice cream we serve. It starts with our dairy. I get the richest, highest quality local dairy products, delivered fresh twice weekly. It has a higher butterfat content than any ice cream I know of. That obviously has a premium cost, but I can create a fuller flavor profile with the aroma. It also allows me to create a sequence of flavors like varieties of wine. I also spend a lot of time preparing other ingredients like the fruits, chocolates, roasting nuts — or inventing something of my own. If I can make the ice cream better, I do it. It’s just like life: It all comes down to going the extra inches it takes to turn good to great.

Photo by Nancy Guth
You’ve said memories are fundamental to your ice cream creation. Could you share some of those memories?  

Each of my ice creams tells its own story. Once I know how people connect to a particular flavor, I turn up the volume on that specific detail and build the ice cream around it. The inspiration might be a specific ingredient, or something more abstract like “romance” or “warmth.” I made Beach House Cherry for Valentine’s Day and we just kept making it. It’s amaretto-infused vanilla ice cream made with cherries and toasted sliced almonds. The word “amoretto,” in Italian signifies “little loves.” The ice cream is white for purity; the cherry represents the heart and passion; the snap of the almond symbolizes love’s delicate nature. Fortunately, it all came together beautifully.

What’s your favorite flavor? 

During the day it’s a cake cone with vanilla on bottom and strawberry on top. Any other time, my butter pecan (Dennis’ recipe) and I are really having a moment right now. It’s the best butter pecan on planet Earth! 

What key fact should readers know about Jake’s? 

Our staff makes all the difference. Eric Mathis, my operations manager, deserves as much (or more) credit than I do. Everything that isn’t ice cream is basically his work. Eric gets great people and trains them to serve at the level that our guests deserve. He deals with the consistency, the process, employee manuals, compliance, and regulations — all of the “nerd stuff” that stresses me out. I can’t give him enough praise. We met as executive coaches before I’d opened the shop. Eric saw how much I needed him, so he took me on as a client and also assumed his current role. God just keeps putting the people in my life that I need to run the race. It’s all about people. Our only mission is to deliver an environment for great memories to be made. Everything else is just tools, material, and details.

Harry’s Continental Kitchen

5600 Gulf of Mexico Drive, Longboat Key; 941-383-0777;

Harry's Ultimate Sundae
Photo by Nancy Guth

Area foodies flock to Harry’s for its famous crab cakes, vichyssoise, roasted duck and celebrated brunches. Ah, but what about dessert? If you have any room left, try Harry’s “Ultimate Ice Cream Sundae,” co-created by co-owners Harry and Lynn Christensen. What makes it ultimate? According to Harry, “Because we loaded it with chocolate chip cookies, Harry’s famous brownie, homemade hot fudge and topped it with whipped cream.” He adds that the ingredients inspired their signature sundae’s recipe, not the other way around. “We had all this great stuff lying around at Harry’s,” he says. “We thought it’d make the ultimate desert if we put it all together.” Plenty of Harry’s regulars clearly agree; the “Ultimate Sundae” is a hit. 

Tyler’s Gourmet Ice Cream Shop 

5350 Gulf of Mexico Drive, Longboat Key; 941-706-1416;

Benjamin Hull finds his bliss at Tyler’s.
Photo by Lori Sax

Along with sweet stuff to savor, this ice cream shop has a sweet history. Larry and Geri Tyler founded the original Cortez location in 1984 and it soon became a mainstay for all who scream for ice cream. In 2008, they put the shop up for sale and it caught the eye of Rob Alderson’s father. Rob Alderson and his wife, Laura, flew from their home in Minnesota to check it out. “We were looking for a business to buy — but Florida wasn’t on our radar,” says Alderson. “But once we saw it, we knew it was meant to be. It was one of those magical things where everything lined up. Our kids were young and hadn’t yet started school, so it was the perfect time to make a move.” 

How did he learn how to make ice cream? “It’s not rocket science. I have a background in the culinary arts, so I’d worked with food before. And we were lucky because the previous owner, Larry, showed me the ropes — and even gifted us with the original metal tin recipe holder with all the original recipes.” 

Since then, the Aldersons opened another location in Bradenton and, in 2017, partnered with Michael Garey and Bob Fracalossy, the Lazy Lobster’s owners, to open a third location right next door to their landmark restaurant in the Centre Shops on Longboat Key. They also deliver their ice cream to several area restaurants.

“Ice cream is the ideal Florida business,” says Alderson. “People who come to the key are always in an ice cream mood — even during cold snaps.” Alderson makes all of his ice cream on-site. His proud description of his own handiwork? “It’s the best ice cream in the land.”

Rob Alderson, the owner of Tyler’s Gourmet Ice Cream, says that ice cream is the ideal Florida business.
Photo by Lori Sax
Favorite flavor, according to Rob Alderson? 

“French vanilla is our top seller. I use high-end vanilla extract — it’s the litmus test for great ice cream.” 

Most exotic flavor?

“Our maple bacon ice cream with real bacon bits. It’s hard for people to get over the fact that there’s actually meat in ice cream.”

Most unique flavor?

“Mississippi Mud, which is coffee-flavored with Oreo cookies and a fudge swirl.”

Extra Scoops!

After an afternoon of adult window shopping on St. Armands Circle, it’s time to treat the kids to something scrumptious at Kilwins. They’ll find dozens of different flavors of brain-freezing delight — along with enough permutations of homemade fudge and chocolates to put a smile on Willy Wonka’s face. How to find it on the Circle? It’s the shop with the long line of people outside waiting patiently for their sweet dose. 312 John Ringling Blvd., St. Armands Key; 941-388-3200;

Cones, milkshakes, or malteds? Whatever your taste, ice cream from Orange Octopus Ice Cream Co. can deliver the chill. They take their time creating their handmade, slow-churned treats. The wait is worth it — and how cool is the name? 1220 Old Stickney Point Road, Siesta Key; 941-346-0202;

Sub Zero Nitrogen Ice Cream makes tasty treats with the power of science. They instantly flash-freeze their ice cream with -320 degrees F. of liquid nitrogen. It’s fun to watch, and even more fun to eat. They’ve got a range of sizes and flavors — and vegan options, too. 219 Avenida Madera, Siesta Key; 941-349-4062;

Made In Rome Organic Gelato’s gelato is not actually made in Rome — but the owners hail from Rome, so it’s the next best thing; their frozen fare is as authentically Italian as you can get. Using the processes and equipment found in Italy’s finest gelaterias, they create small batch, all-organic concoctions of organic milk, cream, eggs, sugar, fruits and nuts. (They also offer vegan and sugar-free options.) Their latest flavor? Red Tide, with chocolate, red peppers from Italy and strawberry topping. 5204 Ocean Blvd., Siesta Key; 960-5344;


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