Sub Zero scientist
Biochemisty student turned ice cream shop owner loves making people smile
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This article was published 07/05/2021 (464 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Linh Le is not afraid of a challenge.
Born in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, Le came to Canada with her family in 2012 after completing high school in Australia. The family settled in Winnipeg. She enrolled at the University of Manitoba, earning a bachelor of science, studying biochemistry and dental hygiene. But a funny thing happened while she was searching for a full-time position.
“I saw that Sub Zero Ice Cream was for sale,” Le said. “I stayed up many nights thinking about it, and finally I decided to give it a try.”
Le bought the long-standing neighbourhood ice cream shop, located at 298 Jamison Ave., in 2017.
“Compared to what I have studied, it is a whole new career, and challenging,” Le said. “But I am really enjoying it. The customers come to ice cream not because they are hungry, they come because they are happy, in a good mood or to celebrate something.”
Le’s parents are both entrepreneurs with medical backgrounds, owning and operating clinics in Ho Chi Minh City before moving to Canada by way of the Manitoba’s business investor immigration stream.
Le loves the good vibes that selling ice cream puts out into the community.
“A lot of customers come in with a happy mood,” she said. “I would like to bring more happiness to our customers. It’s a summer thing, Winnipeg people love ice cream.
Sub Zero Ice Cream, which has a reputation for its creative parfaits, has been open for over 30 years.
“We have more than 50 parfaits,” Le said, noting the signature dish features three layers of ice cream and a wide variety of toppings.
The shop’s most popular item remains The Larsen — a hot fudge, roasted whole Spanish peanuts, and peanut butter parfait. However, Le is not one to rest on the shop’s reputation.
“I create a lot of unique parfaits, like green tea and Australian biscuit,” Le noted. “Making ice cream is like working in the lab. My favourite is peach cobbler, with peach caramel and cinnamon crunch.”
The menu has expanded to include options for those who don’t consume dairy.
“We also have vegan ice cream,” she said. “And we make that into parfaits, too.”
Along with working behind the counter, Le also manages Sub Zero’s social media accounts. She has found that different demographics respond to different platforms, so she crafts posts for both Instagram and Facebook, which have proven to be successful ways of growing the shop’s brand.
“I make it, I take it, I write the content,” Le said. “Every time I post, it attracts more customers.”
As Le prepares to kick off another summer under public health orders, she noted that Sub Zero’s customers have been very supportive throughout the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’re still busy,” Le said, adding that the shop takes delivery orders via DoorDash. “We have a lot of loyal customers who support us. We have some customer who come very regularly, almost every day.”
Those who come for ice cream on a busy day can expect to wait in line outside while practicing social distancing. For most, that hasn’t been a problem.
“That’s how we do it. They follow the rules,” Le said. “Everyone loves to be outside and having a good time in the summer.”
Sheldon Birnie is a reporter/photographer for the Free Press Community Review. The author of Missing Like Teeth: An Oral History of Winnipeg Underground Rock (1990-2001), his writing has appeared in journals and online platforms across Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. A husband and father of two young children, Sheldon enjoys playing guitar and rec hockey when he can find the time. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org Call him at 204-697-7112