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Small Business Spotlight

TJ‘s Chillin Treats

Ice Cream Dreams

by Lenaha Kidd

Inspiration for a new small business idea can truly come from anywhere and at any chapter of your life – just ask TJ Lupero, owner of TJ’s Chillin’ Treats. For the uninitiated, TJ’s Chillin’ Treats is an ice cream shop that not only provides you a happy place, but makes you feel like you are family as soon as you walk through the door! You are greeted with warm smiles and cool treats, as you meet TJ, the ice cream dreamer, and his wife Rosa, whom he affectionately calls the business mastermind. Let me tell you their story and hopefully inspire you to start planning that small business you always wanted.

After thirty years in the computer industry, TJ found that the passion was gone. He knew he needed to try something different, ANYTHING different. One evening while sitting beside Rosa, TJ was checking out YouTube videos when he came across a three-hour video about making ice cream. “If the video isn’t good,” he thought, “a few swipes and I’ll watch something else.” Three hours later, TJ had a new passion and knew what needed to be done! Sell the house (in New York), move to Florida, and bring homemade ice cream to the Fort Walton Beach area residents. This might seem crazy or drastic to some, but being bold or fearless is a common character trait for many successful entrepreneurs.

In April of 2019, TJ and Rosa arrived in our area to begin their new venture. They found a great location in Mary Esther Plaza and after a handshake with a local contractor, the ice cream shop dream became a reality. They haven’t looked back.

The doors opened on June 17, 2020, with a limited menu of fresh homemade ice cream. The customers who patiently waited during the construction phase showed up in long lines and fell in love with the ice cream. And what’s not to love?

At TJ's Chillin' Treats, everyone can enjoy homemade ice cream, milkshakes, and frozen desserts. There are the childhood classics like
Chocolate, Vanilla, and Strawberry. The seasonal flavors like Caramel Crunch and Peanut Butter Cup may not stay long, but they do come back! The Adult flavors are for the 21 and over crowd to enjoy a chilling treat infused with alcohol. TJ’s also offers frozen treats for those with dairy sensitivities or a vegan preference! There are lots of ice cream flavors to choose from.

Are you thinking about starting up a new business? TJ suggests you do the following:

  1. Check your sanity at the door.
  2. Write a business plan, even if no one looks at it.
  3. Network as much as possible and as early as possible.
  4. Always check for different options and possibilities.
  5. Be Flexible – There will be situations that you did not plan for.
  6. ALWAYS Ask questions.

Want to learn more about their story – or simply enjoy some excellent frozen treats? TJ and Rosa invite you to stop by their ice cream shop, located in the Mary Esther Plaza, at 144 Mary Esther Blvd. Suite 12, Mary Esther, Florida.