California-Based CREAM to Open May 7 in Aventura With Free Ice Cream Sandwiches

San Francisco-based customizable ice cream sandwich shop CREAM – short for “Cookies Rule Everything Around Me,” a clever but accurate acronym for foodies and non-foodies alike – has found a permanent home in South Florida. The widely popular West Coast chain will make its East Coast debut in Aventura (18719 Biscayne Blvd.) with a grand-opening celebration this Saturday.

Nestled on the corner of Town Center Aventura between neighbors Bone Fish Grill and Buffalo Wild Wings, CREAM offers guests the opportunity to make their own Instagram-worthy creations. Choose from more than 20 ice cream flavors, from caramel cinnamon chill and green tea to cup of joe and strawberry cheesecake; then sandwich your scoop between warm, freshly baked signature cookies including snickerdoodle, turtle, and creamfetti for $3.99. An assortment of gluten-free and vegan cookies is also available at various prices.

Top off your handcrafted ice cream sandwich with your choice of M&Ms, gummy bears, sprinkles, Oreos, or almonds (among many other toppings), priced at 75 cents each. It’s like an indoor playground where you can mix and match everything you love and make it your own. For example: Put a carnival cookie on top, a peanut butter cookie on the bottom, and wrap it around a scoop of chocoholic ice cream with marshmallows to finish it off. You can even order your ice cream served in taco-shaped waffle cones, or in a milkshake, malts, floats, sundae, or with a brownie.

Dessert-loving Miamians and visitors alike can thank the mastermind behind Florida’s first outpost – Cypress Bay High School senior Armando Martinez, who developed a business plan to expand the CREAM concept abroad and submitted it into a statewide Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA) competition. He won first place in the International Business Plan category. Soon after, Armando and his father realized its potential in the Sunshine State, and the rest began moving accordingly. While Armando finishes his last year at Cypress Bay and prepares for Stanford in the fall, his parents will financially back the business and everyday operations until he finishes school.

Armando’s mother, Corina Martinez, said she and her husband fell in love with the product as their son delved deeper into his research and believed in what the brand could do here in Florida. “Armando kept saying, ‘It’s going to be the next Starbucks!’” Under the plan, the Weston-based family and a group of investors aim to open more than 30 locations across Florida over the next seven years. CREAM currently has 22 stores open throughout California and two in Nevada.

“We’re proud to be representing the state of Florida,” Corina said. “We’re the master franchisers. We love our first spot. We wanted to choose a location that will allow us to get the word out, and Aventura is just a great place where a lot of people come, and we felt this was the place where we can start the brand. In California, every time you put up a CREAM logo, everyone knows what it is – we hope to do that as well.”

From 2 to 9 p.m. Saturday, May 7, guests can enjoy free ice-cream sandwiches, a live DJ, and more lively entertainment for CREAM Aventura’s official grand opening. Corina hopes to have the same lines they see during CREAM openings in California, with wait times of about four to five hours and more than 4,000 ice-cream sandwiches given out. Of course, the Martinez family and the crew at CREAM Aventura are prepared no matter the turnout. Even in its soft opening, shouts of “Hot cookies!” resonate through the blue-washed, white-tiled ice cream sandwich shop.

“The main reason we wanted to start this venture with CREAM was because of its atmosphere and affordability,” she said. “It doesn’t matter how you come into the store — you leave with a smile.”

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Maureen Aimee Mariano is a freelance food writer for Miami New Times. She earned a bachelor of science in journalism from the University of Florida before making her way back to the 305, the city that first fueled her insatiable appetite.