Skip to Main Content

Tipsy Scoop's Melissa Tavss Dishes About Franchising her Boozy Ice Cream Business

Tipsy Scoop Franchise

The emerging franchisor is on a mission to her her company's alcohol-infused ice cream to customers across the U.S.

For Melissa Tavss, making ice cream has always been more than just a job – it’s a legacy.

“Ice cream-making runs in my family, dating back to the 1800s,” says Tavss, the founder of Tipsy Scoop, a franchise brand that makes artisanal liquor-infused ice cream in a variety of delectable flavors.

That family history stretches back to 1870, when Tavss’ great-great-great grandfather emigrated to Scotland from Italy, bringing gelato – a relatively unknown frozen treat at the time – with him to his new country. For two more generations, Tavss’s family continued the tradition of making quality ice cream in the United Kingdom, with Tavss’ great-grandfather eventually becoming the President of the Ice Cream Alliance of Great Britain.

“I was always fascinated by that family tradition and history of ice cream-making – and always interested in perfecting my own ice cream recipe,” Tavss recalls.

So it came as no surprise when, in 2012, Tavss revived the old family business and began making her own ice cream – this time, with a modern twist.

Sweet dreams – and a shot of whiskey

For Tavss, the act of making ice cream from scratch became an art form – something to master over time as she experimented with different techniques using her home ice cream machine.

“(Making) ice cream at home is very challenging. With the tabletop Cuisinart machine, it comes out very icy on the side. So, I started adding just a tablespoon of alcohol to soften my ice cream so that I was happier with the consistency,” Tavss recalls.

The technique worked – and sparked the idea for a new business as Tavss expanded her knowledge of bourbon and rye whiskies while coordinating marketing and events for various liquor brands in her former career before embarking on entrepreneurship.

“I think one of my first flavors was vanilla bean bourbon – a very simple, clean flavor, and I loved how the taste of the bourbon really came through in that ice cream,” Tavss says.

After perfecting a method for combining liquor with hand-crafted ice cream, Tavss ran with the idea in 2013, dubbing her new business “Tipsy Scoop” – a name she and her roommate came up with. By the next year, Tavss was serving up her hand-crafted alcoholic frozen treats at events all over New York City.

“For the first few years, all I was doing was catering and events and online orders. (Tipsy Scoop) is an occasion-based product, so that's a huge part of the business to date. And I was really happy with that – everything was made to order. It wasn't a super huge investment in terms of startup costs for opening and location. It was easy to do part-time,” Tavss says.

In 2015, Tipsy Scoop started to grow beyond its humble beginnings. Partnering with a distributor, the fledgling company’s products became available in grocery stores across the country ranging from Whole Foods to 7-Eleven. Still, Tavss’ entrepreneurial aspirations remained relatively small, and the company grew slowly as she continued learning the ins and outs of entrepreneurship.

Scooping up Success

Despite Tavss’ contentment with Tipsy Scoop’s status as a small startup, the public’s interest in the brand’s products grew exponentially after a video about the boozy ice cream-making process went viral on Facebook in 2016, receiving nearly 10 million views in two days. Inquiries about buying the liquor-infused ice cream poured in online, by phone, and even at the company’s warehouse production facility at Hot Bread Kitchen, an incubator in East Harlem.

“That (attention) really didn't stop. We had more videos come out, and the demand was really there to open a shop,” Tavss recalls.

In 2017, Tipsy Scoop opened its first “barlour” in New York – with a line stretching around the block from open to close on its first day in business. Two years later, the company opened a second location in Brooklyn, with a third location following in 2021 in Long Beach, New York.

Last year, Tavss decided to take the leap into franchising Tipsy Scoop – taking advantage of the franchise model to serve up the brand’s sweet, boozy frozen treats to customers across the country.

“Not only was there the demand for it – we had all of our customers asking if we were a franchise – but we also just wanted to continue to be that first mover in the boozy ice cream category, so that every town has a Tipsy Scoop boozy ice cream shop,” Tavss says

Getting Straight to the Pint

When it comes to franchising, Tavss says Tipsy Scoop is uniquely positioned for success as an innovator in the alcoholic dessert space.

“It's super exciting because boozy ice cream and liquor-infused food is a very new category, so there's a huge opportunity with franchising and just growing the brand in general,” Tavss says.

For Tavss, part of that opportunity for growth can be found on social media – the same marketing tactic that helped Tipsy Scoop transform from a small startup to a thriving brick-and-mortar business.

“I think social media is a great way to spread awareness about your brand without a large investment. That being said, it is a time investment,” Tavss says.

Tipsy Scoop Franchise Opportunity

After issuing the new franchise brand’s Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD) earlier this year, Tipsy Scoop signed its first three franchisees. Offering benefits like training in the New York City area for new franchise owners to learn every aspect of running their own “barlour,” on-site pre-opening training and support at every new franchise location, ongoing business guidance, access to new and limited edition products, and research and development materials, the company’s focus is on supporting those new franchisees in their success.

“We are a relatively new company, and our first franchisees that are starting with us now definitely share in that entrepreneurial spirit,” Tavss says.

Recalling her family’s long history in the ice cream industry, Tavss says franchising also has benefits that extend beyond business as usual: it’s a model that can create a legacy for franchisees to hand down for generations to come.

“It's a huge, life-changing opportunity – even emotional – just to see people investing in that change and really believing in the brand,” Tavss says.

To learn about franchising opportunities with Tipsy Scoop, visit

To find out how we can help you transform your small business into a thriving franchise system, contact us today by calling (800) 976-4904 or click the button below.

Learn more about our clients

View All