For some students, completing a school project is just another assignment for a grade, but for 18-year-old Armando Martinez Jr., it turned into Florida’s first ever-CREAM franchise, a dessert company specializing in the ice cream cookie sandwich.
Martinez Jr., now a senior at Cypress Bay High in Weston, was part of the school’s DECA program, an educational track that reinforces business and entrepreneur leadership. As a sophomore, he was assigned a project to improve an existing business model for a company. Armando shared with his father, also an entrepreneur, the project idea and that’s when a light bulb went off. Armando Martinez Sr. had recently visited California and noticed a line out of the door at a shop called CREAM, Cookies Rule Everything Around Me.
Armando Jr. loved the idea and soon after the project took off.
“When I was looking for a business to do the assignment on, my dad had just been in Palo Alto where one of the stores are, and he told he had seen an ice cream place with a line out the door. I looked into it, and it looked really cool. I thought that if I had to give a 15-minute presentation, it might as well be on something the judges would like to look at,” Martinez Jr. said.
As research for his project, the younger Martinez reached out to corporate and scheduled an interview with Jimmy Shamieh the founder and CEO of CREAM a move that would eventually catapult Armando Jr. into a real life business meeting outside of a school project.
“Toward the end of the meeting, Jimmy joked about there being a CREAM in Florida. I was sold on the idea from the moment I wrote my paper about it. After the competition had ended, I always joked with my dad that we should bring the business to Florida. Then one day I found out my dad was actually looking into it seriously and liked the philosophy behind it, that’s when the negotiation process began,” Martinez Jr. said.
After a couple of years of negotiations and multiple attempts at location scouting, the Martinezes saw the project come full circle during their grand opening at the master franchise on May 7. As part of the fun, they had a full-blown extravaganza with free ice cream sandwiches for anyone that stopped by.
CREAM also offers gluten free cookies and ice cream as well as vegan options. They also create a twist on Taco Tuesday with their ice cream taco, cones, sundaes and over 20 flavors of super-premium ice cream.
Antwan Richardson from Liberty City saw a Facebook post about CREAMS’s grand opening and decided to stop by with his family. He waited in line for an hour in hopes of trying his signature pick; cookies and cream ice cream sandwiched between two chocolate chip cookies and topped off with almonds.
For Martinez Sr., seeing his son’s success and motivation was what pressed him to follow up with the idea. He and the family will head the business when Armando Jr. leaves for Stanford University in the next couple of months. Aside from this first location at the Town Center Aventura, the Martinezes are also planning a second location at The Shops at Pembroke Gardens.
“After looking into it, we realized this would have a huge impact on everybody. The more we researched, the more it made sense to us. As a parent it was a pleasure to go through this process with my son,” Martinez Sr. said. “We used to call our conversations over dinner our board meetings. We got to live this experience together, and it really was a joy to share this with him. I’m going to remember this for years.”
By Christian Portilla
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