COTUIT — The sweet sound of an ice cream truck pulling up to the beach is one that prompts children to plead for cash and adults to second-guess their diets. Everyone knows it’s hard to resist.
Those who spend sunny days swimming at Sampson’s Island and around the Popponesset Spit or boating in Barnstable Harbor may not hear that catchy jingle, but they have an alternative. Where the truck can’t go, the Titcomb Brothers Ice Cream boat can.
“Payson and I were the original ice cream boat guys,” said Tim Titcomb.
Ten years ago, Tim and Payson Titcomb, 12 and 16 at the time, opened Titcomb Brothers Ice Cream after a suggestion from their aunt Sarah. They had one boat, four coolers filled with dry ice, five ice cream options and a sign held up by an oar.
On Saturdays and Sundays, they took to Cape waters, purveying ice cream to beachgoers and pleasantly surprised boaters.
Each year the brothers have improved their business in both strategy and equipment, adding Starbucks Frappuccinos to the menu and selling Titcomb Brothers Ice Cream T-shirts. They strung lights on the canopy to drum up business at night. Their two-day-a-week effort soon evolved into a seven-day operation.
It’s not just about good ideas, though. The brothers have put in their fair share of old-fashioned elbow grease.
“We built the canopy. We bought our freezers and mounted them ourselves. We made custom brackets for them. We do 90 percent of the boat and maintenance on the engine,” Tim Titcomb said.
“We bought the shells bare. We rigged them all ourselves, painted them, everything," he said. "The sister boat to this one, the one my brother has, is the exact same. We mirror them after each other. It's a marketing technique. We want to keep our image the same so people know Titcomb Brothers Ice Cream.”
Both brothers, now 22 and 26, graduated from Fordham University in New York and return to the Cape to run their summer business. Tim said it’s a commitment, but one that is worthwhile. The dream is to add a raw bar on the boat. Though Tim admitted it will be hard to get approval from the health department, he’s still optimistic.
“The sky's the limit,” he said.
— Follow Taryn Penna on Twitter: @tarynApenna.