Ice cream shop hopes to help bring tolerance as well as sweets
By Christian Betancourt
As the sound of construction permeated the Main Street Social in preparation for their grand opening Saturday, an ice cream business on the corner added the final touches to a company the owners hope will create a legacy for their younger child Tyler, an 11-year old with special needs.
Lisa Candido met her husband in Canada while attending college. The two fell in love and were blessed with three boys. Tyler, the youngest of the three, was born in 2010 with Down syndrome.
“We knew our journey raising him would be different,” said Lisa. “We immediately started dreaming about how Tyler’s adult life would be. One of our biggest concerns was, ‘What will he do when he grows up?’ We wanted to create meaningful employment for him and other individuals with Down syndrome.”
After living in Texas for a few years, the couple planned to create a business for their son later on, but life had other plans.
“Through a job change and meeting the right people at the right time, it just seems like we were led to (open the shop now),” said Lisa. “It all happened very quickly. While we expect that Tyler will attend a college program, we’ve always dreamed of providing him and others with Down syndrome with an inclusive and supportive work environment.”
The move into ice cream was an easy decision for Tyler’ father, James Candido, whose background was in transportation logistics and philanthropy.
“Ice cream is a staple in our home,” he said. “We always have multiples of ice cream in our freezer. We always wanted a family business, so ‘why not ice cream?’”
According to Lisa, Udder Love Ice Cream will be a true family business, adding that her two older children and husband would be scooping until Tyler is ready to take over the company.
“It’s going to be something that Tyler can assume responsibility for as he gets older, and potentially it can be his shop as he gets older,” she said.
James added that Tyler would become a great owner since he has shown great prowess from a young age.
“Tyler is my hardest-working son,” James said. “He has always been helpful. From a young age, he cleared his plate at the dinner table and helping around the house. He is by far just a helpful and wonderful-natured kid. He will be happy to work for free or work for ice cream.”
One of the main challenges Lisa said they have faced as a family is how people underestimate the value and intelligence of those living with Down syndrome.
“Tyler knows everything that’s around him,” she said. “He just has a communication issue. He learns everything that’s around him. He just learns a little bit slower.”
Lisa hopes Tyler’s presence at the shop will help normalize how others see people with Down syndrome.
“I hope to see people feel comfortable around him,” she said. “(I hope people don’t) see him as different, scary, or odd. He’s just like their 10-year-old son. He just wants to play and have fun.”
Anyone with the genetic condition is encouraged to apply to work at the shop.
“We want to allow them to work at Udder Love,” said Lisa. “I think it would be a fantastic example for Tyler. We don’t want to marginalize people with Down syndrome. We want them to see Udder Love as an opportunity for them to gain meaningful and supportive employment.”
The business also hopes to help organizations that deal with Down syndrome raise funds to help the community.
“We want to work with organizations to give back and promote what life is like to have someone in your life with Down syndrome,” said Lisa.
The business will start with 16 flavors of ice cream along with dairy-free and sugar-free flavors, waffle cones, and sundaes with potential for growth in the menu.
“We are extremely happy to be out in this community,” said James. “The people have been absolutely helpful and wonderful. We look forward to being a bigger part of it.”