Navigator Café manager Annette Turner-Nesbitt twirls a frosty treat during the debut the café’s soft serve ice cream machine.
LEESBURG — Mr. Softee, eat your heart out.
If, as the poet Wallace Stevens opined, “The only emperor is the emperor of ice cream,” then Beacon College’s Navigator Café has ascended to king of soft-serve ice cream on Leesburg’s Main Street.
On Wednesday, the Beacon-operated café rolled out its new Stoelting Twin Twist Countertop soft-serve ice cream machine to the delight of Beacon students and Leesburg Library bookworms. The machine produces two flavors, vanilla or chocolate, or a two-flavor twist.
Bringing ice cream to the café and to Main Street was a popular idea percolating almost as long as the Navigator Café, which opened in February 2015 after assuming the lease of the Z-Café at Leesburg Public Library, has existed.
“It’s the only soft serve on Main Street,” said Thomas Brown, director of human resources and risk manager at Beacon College, who oversaw (and rooted for) the purchase of the machine. “This is Florida, and as an option to cool down, we love ice cream.”
Beyond that, the frozen treat affords student staffers from Beacon College — the first higher education institution accredited to award bachelor’s degrees exclusively to students with learning disabilities, ADHD and other learning differences — another opportunity to hone their hospitality and business skills on the job. The Stoelting can crank out 65 cones per run. It takes 15 minutes to refill the machine and refreeze the dairy produce for the next run.
First-day demand was brisk. Customers gobbled about 50 cones, Nesbitt said. That doesn’t include the 15 first-day freebies faculty and staffers enjoyed at the urging of President George Hagerty.
It wasn’t just Beacon students drawn to the frozen food of the gods.
Twyine Littlejohn, who was making a library run, had earlier enjoyed a taco salad at the café when she discovered that soft serve now was on the menu. She returned later for some cold comfort.
“I need two cones,” she informed Nesbitt.
“Do you want chocolate, vanilla or swirl?”
Vanilla is it.
Having ice cream now available on Main Street will keep “a lot of people cool,” Littlejohn said. “The students, the children — everybody — likes ice cream. It’s not even summer, but it’s getting there, with some hot days, and this is really good.”
Another satisfied customer.
Annette Turner-Nesbitt, manager of the Navigator Café, who estimates the café selling 150-200 cones a week, called Day One “very, very successful. More than we’d hoped. Come Bikefest, we’re going to be busy, and hopefully, carry on after that as being the sole supplier of soft serve on Main Street. Come the hot season, we ought to be quite busy.”
Let’s face it: We all scream for … ICE CREAM!
The wait is over at the Beacon Navigator Café.
Let the screaming begin.