While I was there, the saloon's owner, Rudy Ross, told me about his newest culinary venture. He's in the process of turning the whitewashed brick building directly across Genessee Street from Fric & Frac into an ice cream shop. When Miami Ice opens in late January at 1624 West 39th Street, it will offer 16 flavors of ice cream; dozens of candy, nut or fruit mix-ins; soft-serve ice cream; and 30 flavors of syrup to pour over shaved ice.
Ross hadn't planned to open another food-related business, but he wanted the 27-spot parking lot behind the former auto-parts store. Because the building was part of the deal, he thought of things to do with it.
"My first idea was to turn it into an art gallery," Ross told me. "Then I thought 39th Street needed a dessert-only restaurant, like they have in Europe. But I don't have the kitchen space to do baked goods. So then it came to me ice cream."
Actually, there's already an ice cream shop nearby. The walk-up window Angie's is just a few doors west of Fric & Frac. But Ross seems to be taking his inspiration from the late Otto's Malt Shop (which operated in the 39th Street space now occupied by Café Rumi). Otto's did such great business making thick malts and milkshakes that Ross plans to serve those, too.
The real selling point, he thinks, will be the Hawaiian ice treats and the custom-made mix-in ice creams. "I think we will offer one really weird flavor-of-the-month here that we'll also sell as a dessert special at Fric & Frac," he says. "We've only ever had two desserts at Fric & Frac: tiramisu and chocolate-suicide cake. If we come up with a really unusual ice cream flavor every month, we'll have that, too."
And if the ice cream business melts away? Ross said he'll go back to Plan One: "Turn it into an art gallery."