The Shocking Meltdown of Ample Hills — Brooklyn’s Hottest Ice Cream Company

They had $19 million, a deal with Disney, and dreams of becoming the next Ben & Jerry’s. Then everything fell apart.

A GIF animation of a two-scoop mint chocolate chip ice cream cone melting onto a sidewalk.
Animation by Julia Roe for Marker

What happened to the ice cream company the New York Times dubbed “Brooklyn’s Most Beloved”?

The story, Smith often said, was what made Ample Hills ice cream “more than just milk, cream, sugar, and eggs.”

A couple months in, one customer’s name leapt out from the online order sheet: Bob Iger.

“We were able to tell a story to potential investors, and they could see the next Ben & Jerry’s.”

According to employees, Smith and Cuscuna would fall in love with the story they could tell about a location and sign a lease without due diligence.

“We knew it was costing a lot of money but we didn’t have a clear sense of how much.”

“It was like, ‘The rules of physics don’t apply to us. We’re Ample Hills!’”

The couple scrambled to cut costs. They stopped buying in bulk, did a small round of layoffs (about 12 people out of 120), and took salary cuts.

Cuscuna told Marker that the bankruptcy allowed, in her words, “bottom-feeders,” to snap up the company.