After burning out in corporate America, Brandon Byrd needed a change. He wanted to create something fun, something anyone could enjoy, and something relatable across ages, genders, and ethnicities. The answer: ice cream. And not just any ice cream but Wisconsin-style frozen custard, just like the kind he would “overload on” when visiting family in Wisconsin.
Without any formal culinary training — but with a lot of passion — Byrd decided to bring “a piece of the Midwest to the DMV.” The business started about 11 years ago as a vintage food truck “affectionally known as Gigi,” selling custard curbside around DC. The food truck business took a big hit during the pandemic with fewer people working downtown, and the time felt right to finally open a brick-and-mortar location in 2021. (Gigi still operates, however, just on a more limited basis.)
Byrd managed to find a very fitting vacant property (an old Mutual Ice Company building) and knew “it really fits Goodies.” He aims to be authentic and on-brand when it comes to “all touchpoints” of his custard business. From the city name itself (Old Town) and the historic ice building to the retro uniforms and oldies music, every nostalgic detail is intended to “take you back down memory lane.”
Made fresh every day (the shop closes at 6 p.m., or earlier if the treats sell out), Goodies’ Wisconsin-style custard is heavier, denser, and has less air in it than your traditional soft serve. It’s frozen at a warmer temperature, minimizing ice crystals and giving it an ultra-creamy and velvety-smooth consistency. Goodies does not refreeze any leftover custard “because we want the customer to have the best experience with our product every day,” says Byrd.
While the vanilla bean custard is the star of the show, you’d be missing out if you didn’t try all the other goodies offered at Goodies: The “donutwich” and the “cinnawich,” made with housemade doughnuts and cinnamon rolls, respectively, are a must.
The most popular treat, the Boogie Woogie (a turtle pecan sundae), was featured on Food Network and is also not to be missed. Stay up to date on daily specials by checking Goodies’ Instagram. (This is also where you can find Gigi’s location.) And one more pro tip: Ask for a pint to go so you can continue to savor it at home. 200 Commerce St., Alexandria, mmmgoodies.com
Feature image by Alyssa Langer