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Business of HYPE: Nick Morgenstern

Business of HYPE is a weekly series brought to you by HYPEBEAST Radio and hosted by jeffstaple. It’s a show about creatives, brand-builders, entrepreneurs and the realities behind the dreams they’ve built. This week, Jeff sits down with Nick Morgenstern, Founder of Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream.

Founded in 2014, Morgenstern’s has two locations in New York where behind its blue-paneled doors they serve 88 unique flavors all made in-house. Nick began his career in the late 90’s by attending culinary school and moving to Germany where he cooked for the US Military and traveled all throughout Europe. He then moved to Hawaii to work for a Michelin star restaurant and soon after relocated to New York where he worked in numerous esteemed restaurants such as Daniel and Gramercy Tavern and with famed chef, Paul Liebrandt. Drawn to the pursuit of excellence, Nick attributes much of his work ethic to the rigorous skills he learned in fine dining. 

After years of working at other restaurants and helping open other businesses, he opened his own called The General Greene. He placed a small ice cream cart in the front space, which became a hit success and soon after left to start Morgenstern’s. He bought a small space on Rivington Street, gut-renovated the interior and on Memorial Day weekend of 2014, Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream was officially opened. The success of the store brought immense foot traffic to the area as Nick calls ice cream not only the “equalizer in this country” but also a “relevant touchstone” for Americans. 

“I’m on this mission to define what it means to serve ice cream in America in the 21st century. I don’t have a lifestyle thats crazy and all that I care about is are we going to be able to get that mission to happen. I separate my material desires or needs from this other reality, but I’m living a monastic reality of I’m on a mission to do this thing, but I do it at a very deep level.”

From an assortment of pies, cakes, sundaes, ice cream sandwiches and unique flavors such as pistachio pesto strawberry and mango chili to name a few, Nick tells us he intuitively knows what the flavors should be. Everything from the store’s interior and menu to its merchandise was meticulously designed to make customers trust the brand. As the store continues to push the cuisine of dessert, Nick reminds us that it isn’t about the money, but about making the best ice cream in America.

This episode features references to the following:

5:35 – Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream
6:55 – Early beginnings
7:27 – Michael Mina
7:33 – Mama’s Fish House
9:20 – September 11th
9:37 – Daniel Boulud
10:40 – French restaurant system
18:41 – Living in NYC
22:35 – Working at Morgenstern’s
31:15 – Opening his own restaurant
32:04 – The General Greene
36:37 – Making ice cream
46:56 – Goat Town
49:21 – Finding a location for Morgenstern’s
53:55 – Third Rail Coffee
58:21 – Opening Morgenstern’s
61:27 – The importance of ice cream
63:00 – Design of Morgenstern’s
66:00 – Merchandise
74:03 – Book deal
76:00 – Sacrifices of being an entrepreneur