When Darryl and Kim Brandt visited Kauai, Hawaii, last year, they knew The Fresh Shave had to be in their future. The couple, who own the adjacent Public Image salon on Roosevelt Street in downtown Phoenix, were instantly attracted to the brand and its commitment to a healthier way of life.
The Fresh Shave, a handcrafted shaved ice concept at Fourth and Roosevelt streets, hosted its grand opening on October 4, and the reception from the area has so far been anything but icy. "First Friday felt like a giant Hawaiian bear hug," says general manager Donald Provencio. "Most businesses are not going to turn this around overnight and make a profit, but the objective is to have fun and help the community."
Amid the bustle of all that is Roosevelt Row in downtown Phoenix, The Fresh Shave has carved out its little corner. The black and white exterior is pretty simple, with a matching mustache logo, complementing the neighboring Public Image nicely. "IT'S CALLED SHAVE ICE BRAH," quips some writing on the building's exterior.
Approach the walk-up window and take your pick of sweet concoctions for $7. The Lip Luggage features homemade chai tea and sweet cream, while the signature Handlebar is made with fresh coconut cream, topped with pineapple and shaved coconut. We tried The Professor, with blackberry, raspberry, and açaí syrup, adorned with local honey and bananas. But the Fu Manchu, a combination of strawberry purée, bananas, and sweet cream, is the clear favorite on both the island and mainland.
The Fresh Shave centers its values around three principles: aloha (love), aina (land), and ohana (family). As such, it is dedicated to making shaved ice the healthy way — without artificial dyes or high-fructose corn syrup. Organic and local ingredients are used whenever possible, and many of the menu offerings are vegan. The Brandts say they're proud to serve a dessert they can both enjoy, despite their health concerns. "It was easy for me to instantly love it because I can't have ice cream. This is more organic," says Kim.
The owners even teamed up with the Surfrider Foundation, an organization aiming to protect the world's oceans, even though there's no water in sight at the Phoenix location. But it means you won't find any single-use plastic here. The cups and straws are made of paper, while the spoons are wooden.
"It was one of the things that initially appealed to us about The Fresh Shave in Kauai," Darryl says. "We said, 'Wow. You guys are almost a zero-waste business.'"
Just like its Hawaiian counterpart, The Fresh Shave soon will have a trailer which can be rented for private events, concerts, music festivals, and the like. Booking is expected to begin on November 1.
"It's possible for things to change and it not be a bad thing," Darryl says, who has enjoyed watching the city grow since opening Public Image in November 2015. And he's clearly proud to bring another creative concept to the close-knit downtown community. "You've got two of the best desserts you can have in the same building," he says, referencing Melt Ice Cream inside the nearby Jobot Coffee.
A few Arizona State University students walk past the counter and pause, deliberating over which ice to order. Roosevelt Row certainly has come a long way, and the team behind The Fresh Shave hopes to keep the momentum going.
Darryl looks over and smiles. "As long as somebody comes down, understands the culture, and wants to be a part of it, there's room for everybody here."
The Fresh Shave.
333 East Roosevelt Street, #114, 602-501-5859
Hours: Noon to 10 p.m., Tuesday to Thursday; noon to 11 p.m., Friday to Sunday; closed Monday
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