We had the good fortune of connecting with Ervin Galdiano and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ervin, what is the most important factor behind your success?
In my opinion, the most important factor behind Ice Box’s success is being actively involved in the community. One of the most common ways that we stay engaged with the community is through hosting events and fundraisers. Since we are so close to San Diego State University, we often host fundraisers for different student organizations. We’ve also hosted a few BTS cup sleeve events, open mic nights, and collaborations with local organizations as well. By staying engaged with our customers, we feel as though we have become an essential part of the College Area and San Diego communities at large. The success of our business is driven by the people who continue to support us every day. Hosting these types of community events is our way of going beyond just serving food and drinks. We want to provide a safe space for our guests so they have a sense of belonging, and a social environment where people can interact with us and each other—like family.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Recognized by DoSD as one of the Best Boba Spots in San Diego, Ice Box is currently San Diego’s first and only self-serve boba (or bubble tea) restaurant. Founded in 2016 in National City and expanding to the College Area Business District in 2019, this family-and-minority owned local business continues to gain momentum within San Diego communities as a must-try spot for individuals, foodies and tourists alike for quick on-the-go meals and sweet customizable drinks. What sets us apart from other boba or bubble tea shops is how we offer our customers full creative control in customizing their own personal drink. Similar to how you serve yourself at frozen yogurt places, we provide a “Do-It-Yourself” or DIY concept: customers can mix and match from a variety of our milk tea or slush flavored drinks, then finish their beverages with any add-ons from our unlimited topping bar. Our toppings are included with our cup prices at no extra charge, which enhances the self-service and customizable experience.
Additionally, we have been recognized by iHeartRadio as one of the Best Loaded Fries in San Diego. Another aspect of our business that sets us apart from others is our uniquely crafted loaded fusion fries, influenced by Asian and Asian-American cuisines. We’re really proud of introducing our customers to cuisines that they either have never tried before or weren’t exposed to in their hometowns or residing areas. It’s exciting to see how eager our customers are to try our food items that consists of Asian-inspired dishes; our menu currently offers flavors from Philippine, Vietnamese, Korean and Hawaiian cultures to name a few.
We owe all the success of our business to our customers who continue to come back to us. Without their continuous love and support, we would not be where we are today as a business. However, this was not an easy journey—as a local business we still continue to face challenges while navigating through these unprecedented times. One of the limitations we’re facing at this moment is limiting our self-service option during the pandemic. To eliminate a huge aspect of our brand identity is an extremely hard decision to make, but what’s important to us will always be the safety of our staff, our customers and our community. If there’s anything we would want the world to know about Ice Box, it would be how family-oriented and community-centric we are. As local business owners in a diverse community like San Diego, we feel that local businesses hold a special platform and create a unique voice for our community. So whether you stop by to try one of our modern, asian-inspired fusion fries or create your own customizable bubble tea drink, we’ll do our best to make sure we’re creating a safe space for customers from all types of backgrounds and contribute as much as we can to our surrounding communities.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
It wouldn’t be a visit to San Diego without introducing them to the amazing food. The itinerary would primarily focus on going to widely-known foodie spots throughout San Diego, including Tacos El Gordo, Lucha Libre, and the Liberty Station Public Market. National City is a must for Filipino food. For places to check out, we would go to Balboa Park, the San Diego Zoo, any of the San Diego beaches and Belmont Park.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
First, I would like to give a shoutout to all my friends and family that have been there from day one. I would also like to thank all the different organizations that we have worked with, such as Soju Softies (@thesojusofties on Instagram) and San Diego State University’s Andrés Bonifacio Samahan (@absamahan), the Philippine & Philippine American student organization on campus. The continued support from all the organizations and clubs we have partnered with really motivates us to work hard, give back and serve the community. Lastly, I would like to thank my girlfriend Danica who is always willing to go above and beyond to help me with my business. She always pushes me to do my very best and keep my sanity when times get difficult.
Image 3 photo credit: @bangtankandishop (Instagram) Image 7 photo credit: @absamahan (Instagram)