Small Business Spotlight: Jennifer Boychuk ’06

By Camille Dolan ’98

Rosen Alumna’s Frosty Business in Clearwater Keeps Ice Cream Lovers Coming Back for More

When Jennifer Boychuk ’06 was a senior in high school in Clearwater, her father opened an ice cream and cookie business.

Although the idea of an ice cream business may conjure all the creamy frozen confections one can consume, Boychuk said it wasn’t really like that.

“I didn’t work there, and I didn’t have all that ice cream growing up like you were thinking,” Boychuk says. The business was meant to be a place for her father to have a retirement career after making a name for himself in the insurance business.

Boychuk graduated from the Rosen College of Hospitality Management, but she started UCF as an engineering student.

“I guess I realized that I like people more than numbers,” Boychuk says of the switch. “In the restaurant industry, you have to think on the fly all day long, and I liked that ability to think creatively.”

She honed her skills after graduation working at a high-end resort on Clearwater Beach, where she met her husband, Michael. Then, she managed a Panera Bread for seven years, where she noticed the factors that make a restaurant successful. Good products. Cleanliness and friendliness.

In 2017, Boychuk and her husband were starting to get “burnt out” in the industry and were also looking to start a family. Boychuk’s father was  considering retiring and leaving the ice cream business.

“It was just perfect timing,” Boychuk says. She spent the next year working alongside her father, learning the ins and outs of the business while Michael continued working at the resort.

Jennifer and Michael continued to brainstorm ways to improve the business, including renovating the space and creating a website – a first for the business; they also changed the name to The Mint Fox Cookies & Ice Cream.

“We just liked the sound of it,” Boychuk says. “My maiden name was Fox, but we figured a mint fox was cuter than a regular fox.”

At a prime location on the beach, the Boychuks knew the business would be a success, but after Jennifer’s first summer at the shop, she also knew that Michael would have to quit his outside job.

Now, Jennifer says they’re doing “very well.” There was a bit of a setback during COVID when the business closed, but they are back up to speed.

“We didn’t just buy an ice cream shop and put strangers in there to run it,” Boychuk says. “We are in the shop every day, and maintain high expectations for customer service and cleanliness.”

The Boychuks’ customers agree. Online reviews mention their “insanely smooth” ice cream. One reviewer says of the cookies, “OMG I have no words on how good they are.”

There have been a few bumps along the way, Boychuk said. The Mint Fox’s delicious cookies are prepared in-house from scratch, but their super-premium ice cream comes from an outside vendor.

After 15 years, the ice cream vendor went out of business, and the Boychuks had to scramble. Through their contacts, they found another company that has a high-butterfat content and low overrun.

“The overrun has to do with the amount of air that you’re churning into it,” Boychuk explains. “Less air means a more creamy and silky texture for ice cream.”

The cookies are another story. Boychuk says they go through about 100 of their popular chocolate chip cookies each day, and about half of their other flavors.

The Boychuks give back to UCF and the Rosen College of Hospitality Management because of the generosity of their community who helped support them during COVID when the restaurant was forced to close, and because of Jennifer’s experience while a student.

“What I loved about Rosen was that the instructors were all in the industry,” Boychuk says. “I remember one time, I watched them take apart a whole side of beef. They laid out a half a cow, and I watched them fabricate it. Was I ever going to do that myself? Probably not, but it was interesting.”

For another class, Boychuk and her classmates’ final exam was a five-year certification for food safety management.

“I feel like I’ve always been better prepared for that test than my co-workers because of that class,” Boychuk says.

And even though Boychuk may not have initially warmed up to the idea of the family ice cream business, she is making up for lost time.

“I do eat ice cream every day now,” she says. “Especially when I was pregnant.”

When Hazel, Jennifer and Michael’s daughter, recently turned one, she got her first taste of the family business. She appears to be a fan.

“We are thrilled to be working together in our business, and we are beyond grateful for the continued support we have from the community, who stop by each year during their vacation and tell us how they couldn’t wait to get back to our shop,” Boychuk says. “And to all of our fellow Knights, if you’re down in the Clearwater area, make sure you stop in and say hi.”

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