'It’s unique and different': Ames restaurant Time to Roll combines Tex-Mex with hand-rolled ice cream
Twin brothers Payne and Payton Roberts, 21, have launched a new dining experience at the North Grand Mall, Time to Roll, a concept that pairs Tex-Mex with Sweet Swirls Hand-Rolled Ice Cream.
Their entrepreneur pursuit was inspired after a vacation to Hawaii.
“I had seen rolled ice cream there,” Payton said. “I thought it was awesome and wanted to bring it to Iowa. I was still in high school at the time, so I didn’t do too much (with the idea), but a few months later, Sweet Swirls Rolled Ice Cream opened in Ankeny and it did well.”
Last summer, Payton operated a Sweet Swirls Rolled Ice Cream food trailer behind Perfect Games in Ames. When the opportunity came about to secure a storefront location at the mall — a former Mexican restaurant — the brothers jumped at the chance.
The duo, originally from Pleasant Hill, both have sales and managerial experience. Payton is currently a student at the University of Iowa studying enterprise leadership.
Payne quit his job last fall and threw himself into developing the menu.
“It’s pretty fun working with my brother,” he said.
The Tex-Mex eats will include these items in the coming weeks: egg rolls, corn bites, quesadillas, nachos and taco salads. Soft burrito rolls, soft tacos, taco crunches and burrito crunch rolls will also be offered. People can sample these products now. The ice cream portion of the menu is available now.
“It’s all about the experience — watching it being made. It’s unique and different, and paired with our burrito crunch rolls, is a rolled foods theme,” Payton said.
The Veggie N’ Seeds soft burrito rolls contain rice, beans, lettuce, cheese and salsa, topped with sunflower seeds and served on a whole wheat tortilla.
Crunch rolls are hand-rolled tortillas filled with seasoned meat and then fried. The brothers said the crunch roll idea was inspired by school cafeteria chili crispitos (but better).
Sweet Swirls Rolled Ice Cream is part of a franchise, and the brothers secured the rights to sell it at their store.
“You’re able to get fresh made, hand-crafted ice cream, and add ingredients,” Payton said. “It’s made from our homemade cream.”
Rolled ice cream, also known as stir-fried ice cream, originated in Thailand and gained popularity in other Southeast Asian countries including Malaysia, Cambodia and the Philippines. It’s crafted using a milk-based liquid poured onto an extremely cold surface (negative 20 degrees), spread out, cut using a spatula, then quickly scraped into tube-like shapes.
Their ice cream flavors include vanilla, chocolate, peanut butter, hot cocoa, coffee and non-dairy, available in small and regular-sized bowls and as a shake. Fan favorites include Peanut Butter Party, Very Berry, Cookie Monster, Fluffy Unicorn, S’mores and Morning Delight. Mix-ins encompass fruit, candy, pretzels, cereal and more, with sauces including strawberry, raspberry, marshmallow, peanut butter, butterscotch, caramel, chocolate and white chocolate. Specialty cakes and tubs of ice cream are coming soon.
Soft drinks are offered, and craft beer and margaritas will be added later.
The pair will be offering nightly specials and old local favorites. They hope to see the business grow and one-day take their cuisine to the Iowa State Fair.
“We hope to bring back some things that used to be really popular in the area that you can no longer get. We hope to grow to a point where we become that place where people go for family night,” Payton said. “We’re going to start out small and hopefully open (more locations) in stages and progress as we go.”
Gluten-free options are coming soon, as well as delivery. A dining area allows you to spend some time in the space, or take the treat to go.
Time to Roll, 2801 Grand Ave., is open daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. It may be reached at 515-686-7377 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Their parent company, Ames Cool Treats, owns the food trailer and storefront. The food trailer will reopen in the summer. Visit them on social media: www.facebook.com/timetorollames