Mumbai’s famous vada pav, akuri on toast, Bombay sandwich, and Bombil fry aside, there’s one other specialty that Mumbaikars hold true to heart — the wafer ice cream sandwich that K Rustom’s has been serving up for more than 50 years.
This iconic dessert sandwich is rather simple in concept — a thick slab of ice cream between two crisp wafers. Since the 1950s, Irani ice cream parlour K Rustom’s has been proudly dishing out this legendary dessert from its single outlet near Churchgate. Mumbai-based Parsi boy Jehan Mehta, who had grown up savouring this dessert, always thought it was special.
After completing his college education in the UK, Jehan returned to India. He knew his heart was not in the corporate world, and was keen on pursuing entrepreneurship, but a good solid idea was yet to strike.
Soon however, inspiration did strike — on a visit to K Rustom’s to grab an ice cream sandwich. Jehan realised how the age-old brand had kept its legacy intact with a loyal customer base, and that was a eureka moment for Jehan.
In a conversation with SMBStory, Jehan recalls, “I thought, why not take the sandwich ice cream across Mumbai, and perhaps even pan-India? Opening a franchise store of K Rustom’s seemed like an exciting idea.”
Jehan returned to K Rustom’s the very next day, but this time with a business proposal. He claims, “They had no plans of expanding their business and they didn’t agree to a franchise either. However, I was too inspired to let it go, and so, I decided I would take the initiative to make sure this local dessert reached across the city.”
In 2019, Jehan founded
along with his school friend Soham Jhaveri. They set up the factory in Mumbai’s Prabhadevi area from where they delivered orders. Now, the brand is opening its first outlet in the city’s densely populated area, Charni Road.
Ice cream sandwich for the masses
Jehan and Soham invested around Rs 75 lakh in total to set up an ice cream factory, bring in raw materials, and the required manpower. In January 2020, the duo began selling their ice cream sandwich online.
“We started out from Prabhadevi in Mumbai, advertising through social media, and of course, word-of-mouth helped too. We started getting a good response,” Jehan recalls.
Within the first two months alone, Tandy’s had sold around one thousand ice cream sandwiches.
Tandy’s Creamery wafer ice cream
However, before Jehan could start distributing to other areas, the pandemic hit India, followed by strict lockdowns that led to the closure of many businesses.
“We didn’t know how to react. We had invested some money and that was blocked. There were absolutely no sales for the next few months, and we were left wondering what would happen next,” admits Jehan.
Adding to the circumstances were all the fears associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, like people were increasingly worried about consuming cold desserts. The duo racked their brains to understand how to revive the business, and soon decided they had to pivot to stay relevant, which had them launching a B2B dairy besides running the ice cream brand.
Pivoting to sustain
Jehan discovered that local retailers were experiencing a shortage of milk. So, using his network and resources, he collaborated with a dairy farm in the outskirts of Mumbai to supply milk to retailers. Since this accidental foray, there has been no looking back.
Tandy’s Creamery soon started supplying milk and paneer to restaurants, hotels, bars, and more. And once the restrictions started easing and markets opened up, Jehan saw that ice cream sales were increasing too.
Today, Tandy’s Creamery sources 1,200 litres of milk for its daily supplies, and receives around 6,000 orders for ice cream every month. The founder claims the brand’s revenue is touching approx Rs 7 lakh a month.
With around 50 clients in its B2B business, the brand has also introduced regular ice cream packs for consumers and tub ice creams for B2B sales.
Tandy’s wafer ice cream sandwich prices start from Rs 50 onwards. “We want to cater to the masses hence, we operate at a nominal price,” says Jehan.
He claims Tandy’s Creamery uses all natural flavours and is a vegetarian brand with no preservatives in its ice creams.
Challenges and the way ahead
Jehan is candid when he talks about his challenges, and says that supply chain is one of the biggest problems for SMBs like them in the industry.
“In the initial phase, we had to suffer a lot due to lack of cold-chain supply infrastructure for a small-level business like ours. But, we worked on it and now we have bought our own refrigerated van through which we deliver our orders,” he adds.
Although the brand has expanded in every way, Jehan is clear that his initial goal is yet to be fulfilled — he wants to ensure Tandy’s sandwich ice creams reach the nooks and corners of Mumbai by early next year. By December this year, Tandy’s Creamery would have two more outlets, one each in Churchgate and Andheri.
The company also plans to be available on food aggregator apps. Jehan also plans to introduce a sugar free ice cream range soon.