Twistee Treat — the iconic Northeast Philly soft serve stand — is for sale [Philly Inquirer]

(Originally posted by the Philly Inquirer June 12, 2024)

Have $150,000? You could buy the rights to operate a giant pink ice cream cone on the corner of Longshore and Frankford Avenues in Northeast Philadelphia.

Mohammed Nasher is selling Twistee Treat, the ice cream business operating out of Mayfair’s iconic 27-foot-tall cone.

Posts advertising the sale started circulating in neighborhood Facebook groups last week. The unofficial listing eventually went viral on X (formerly Twitter) as soft-serve diehards bemoaned what they thought was the loss of a kitschy — and deeply nostalgic — piece of architecture.

“Assembling a joint ownership group of Northeast Philadelphians only to purchase and operate the Twistees ice cream shop at Frankford and Longshore,” posted Chris Olley, who’s from Lawncrest (and told The Inquirer that he’s actually never been to Twistee Treat.)

The replies were littered with emoji and GIF army salutes, half-serious calls to “count me in,” and one person who said they would be prepared to contribute “4-figures” to the cause.

“How will the community survive without the giant ice cream cone?” asked Paul Catrino Jr., before learning that the cone is sticking around.

Catrino Jr., 31, remembers begging his parents to take him to the all mighty cone for a vanilla-chocolate swirl with sprinkles after block parties at his cousin’s house. He was relieved to find out that the cone would be just changing hands.

“Part of Northeast culture is that you build something good and you pass it down to someone who you know is going to take care of it,” he said.

Nasher — who took over the ice cream joint from its previous owner in August — is selling the business for $150,000. That includes all equipment, social media accounts, some licenses, and the opportunity to keep on five employees. The buyer would then pay $1,800 a month in rent.

Nasher said he bought the Twistee Treat last summer after spending “13 years staring at that ice cream cone” from his office window at Mayfair Imports, the car dealership he owns next door.

Running the ice cream stand was a (sweet) treat, according to Nasher: He enjoys working the register and building banana splits on the weekends and said the Twistee Treat brought in nearly $22,000 in sales during the month of May. His children, ages 5 and 6, also get to brag that their daddy owns an ice cream shop — at least for now.

They’re also part of the reason he’s ready to sell.

“Between my two stores, the ice cream, my kids — I don’t have enough time in the day,” said Nasher. “I can’t be coming home at 10 o’clock every night. It wouldn’t be fair to them.”

Nasher’s real estate agent, Anthony DiCicco, said he’s already received 50 inquiries for the Twistee Treat, including one serious offer. The majority of them are from neighborhood kids like him, he said, who grew up flocking to the cone after summer days spent running through the sprinkler.

“I wish I could put my face on the cone. You don’t get opportunities like these too often around here. It’s usually just selling a regular pizza shop,” said DiCicco, 45. “But everyone knows that cone.”

The last cone standing

For Mayfair residents of a certain age, the oversize cone has seemed to exist forever, though when forever began is up for debate.

DiCicco said he’s been going to the Twistee Treat since he was “5 or 6” and that his order has remained unchanged 40 years later: a chocolate and vanilla swirl cone with extra chocolate jimmies and fudge.

Property records for the Twistee Treat are unclear, but this specific location likely opened sometime after the original Twistee Treat corporation went bankrupt in 1983 following a failed IPO.

Entrepreneurs immediately began flocking to Florida — where the company was based — to snap up the cones and transport them to other part of the United States as independently owned ice cream stands. There have been several attempts to revive the Twistee Treat name, and the cones have a cult following: Over 9,000 people signed a petition in 2019 to successfully save one of the original locations in North Fort Myers, Fla., from demolition.

Around Philly, Nasher’s cone is the last one standing. The Twistee Treat in Levittown was turned into a Wawa sometime after 2020, while the one in Collegeville appeared to have closed many years ago.

Nasher is looking for a buyer who will invest more time than he could in the business. More important, however, is someone who will maintain his rapport with customers.

“You need to keep the customer happy,” Nasher said, “like when they want an extra topping and we don’t charge them.”

Nasher is ready to be one of those customers.

“I’m excited to support my baby,” he said.

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