In 2011, after working as a church secretary for years, Kathy Connett decided to quit her job and get into the ice cream biz. Now, from her Purple Belle ice cream truck, she’s selling soft-serve ice cream, sundaes, milkshakes and other frozen treats, to happy kids—and adults—all over Sarasota.
READY TO (SOFT) SERVE Connett bought an old Martin Potato Roll delivery truck and, with the help of her husband, outfitted it for food service. “It took us about six months to finish,” she says. “We did it on the side on the weekends.” A former Riverview High School student designed the logo—a sweet-faced, purple-spotted cow in a field of flowers—and the Purple Belle truck rolled to life. Every order is hand-served by Cornett. The work has been hard—“a lot more so than you might think,” she says. “If I had a novelty truck with a freezer full of ice cream bars and popsicles, it would be way easier, but I’m not afraid of work. And this has been so much fun.”
I SCREAM, YOU SCREAM All of the Purple Belle’s frozen treats range in price from $2-$4; Cornett offers two rotating flavors of soft serve that can also be combined into a twist. “Our soft serve is rich and creamy, with a higher butterfat than other soft serve vendors,” Connett explains. She also carries hard ice cream that can be hand-scooped or blended into milkshakes. Big Olaf supplies the ice cream. “It’s a great product that’s locally owned and manufactured,” she says. And local businesses, be on the lookout: Connett has taken to parking her truck at various offices and offering employees free ice cream. Needless to say, that’s been well-received.
BEST PART OF THE JOB “I go to a lot of classroom parties and kids’ birthday parties, and the feeling I get as I turn down the street and excited kids start running toward the truck is amazing,” Connett says. “That’s what it’s all about.”
The Purple Belle is available for private events, like parties weddings and corporate functions, and you can also find the Purple Belle at the Phillippi Farmhouse Market every Wednesday morning.
Connett’s personal favorite flavor is good old-fashioned vanilla. “Vanilla soft serve is just to die for,” she says.
In addition to celebrating Purple Belle’s two-year anniversary, Connett also turns 50 this year. “A lot of my food truck friends are younger than me, but I have the same drive that they do,” she says. “It’s a milestone year, absolutely.”
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