photography / documentary: chinatown baby boomers: Philip Seid of the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory

Philip Seid (65) founded the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory in 1977.  “In the old days, things were simpler. There weren’t that many ice cream places, and we thought we’ll put something a little more exotic, more a neighborhood type of place. At that time Green Tea, Red Bean in Japanese restaurants were already there, and we also put some flavors that the Chinese are familiar with. Like Lychee, Sesame, Mango.” “I think we’re doing well, but small businesses, they have to sell so much because of the rents, real estate, water fees…  You know, a building in Chinatown is like 15 million now. We still have a decent length in the lease, but we’ll see what happens in the future. It’s really complicated. Some of the finest little places, they serve good food, they do have a certain amount of business, but they get pushed out because rents – it’s very difficult.”Philip’s daughter, Christina, helps him run the family business. “She’s a people person. I’m more private. Nowadays, you have to have a personality to sell products, like if you watch tv, all those cooking channels, these people all look like movie stars. Christina connects with people, and she’s good with the internet, and that helps a great deal. It’s a different world. I grew up when Chinatown was only like two, three blocks. But now it seems like it’s a global village in America.”
Philip Seid of the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory

Philip Seid (65) founded the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory in 1977. “In the old days, things were simpler. There weren’t that many ice cream places, and we thought we’ll put something a little more exotic, more a neighborhood type of place. At that time Green Tea, Red Bean in Japanese restaurants were already there, and we also put some flavors that the Chinese are familiar with. Like Lychee, Sesame, Mango.”  

“I think we’re doing well, but small businesses, they have to sell so much because of the rents, real estate, water fees… You know, a building in Chinatown is like 15 million now. We still have a decent length in the lease, but we’ll see what happens in the future. It’s really complicated. Some of the finest little places, they serve good food, they do have a certain amount of business, but they get pushed out because rents – it’s very difficult.” 

Philip’s daughter, Christina, helps him run the family business. “She’s a people person. I’m more private. Nowadays, you have to have a personality to sell products, like if you watch tv, all those cooking channels, these people all look like movie stars. Christina connects with people, and she’s good with the internet, and that helps a great deal. It’s a different world. I grew up when Chinatown was only like two, three blocks. But now it seems like it’s a global village in America.”