LOS ANGELES — Scooping colorful water ice by using his special technique to get the perfect swirl, is what makes the owner of Happy Ice Lemeir Mitchell, just that, happy.
“It’s a part of my roots, part of my childhood," Mitchell said. "It really is Lemeir Mitchell.”
The sweet treat is a staple in Mitchell's hometown of Philadelphia. Moving to Los Angeles just four years ago as a struggling tattoo artist, he worked hard to create the Happy Ice truck to introduce LA to his favorite dessert.
“Happy ice really makes people happy,” Mitchell said.
Now two trucks and a 60,000-person following on Instagram later, Mitchell was ready to open his first storefront. He found the location in March, but it wasn’t approved until May in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.
“In six months, I was ready to open, then had to wait another three months to get everything going, then coronavirus hit, and now the Black Lives Matter. It just has been hurdle after hurdle," Mitchell said. "Now we can open and deliver happiness to everyone.”
The Happy Ice owner has spent the last few weeks getting his store up to county guidelines by following safety protocols. In the middle of this, the Black Lives Matter protests erupted around the city.
“I have experienced police brutality myself, so I know what people are fighting for right now,” Mitchell said.
But then the violence landed at his front door. Hundreds of looters took to Melrose Avenue on May 30 breaking windows, starting fires, and stealing merchandise. Mitchell said he stood in front of Happy Ice all night to protect, as best he could, his hard work and the surrounding businesses.
“I [stood] out there and people walked up. I said, ‘Look, I worked super hard for this business. I know what you guys are fighting for. I’m fighting for the same cause. I understand, but please just spare me. I’m black owned. Please just spare me,’” Mitchell said.
His business was spared and he will continue to support the Black Lives Matter movement until there is change, he said. On June 19, the day slavery was eradicated, Mitchell said he wants to honor this by serving a new black ice from his two trucks with proceeds going to Black Lives Matter causes.
“We will keep using our platform to speak about it until it all happens," Mitchell said. "Nobody should be killed just because of their skin color. Everyone should be treated with respect. Everybody should be loved. Everyone should be appreciated and should feel valued.”
The grandopening of Happy Ice will take place at 7324 Melrose Ave. on June 20.