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He found a new passion, perfected ice cream, then opened Mia’s in Selden

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With no professional experience in desserts, Rich Lombardi knew he needed to concoct an ice cream that spoke for itself.

Considering how frequently customers return, he might have done just that.

Every customer receives a punch card for their purchase at Mia’s Ice Cream Kitchen, a brand-new shop at 1245 Middle Country Road in Selden. After 10 purchases, they get to spin a wheel marked with prizes that range from a free small cup to free ice cream every week for a year.

Lombardi tapes the completed cards on the wall behind the counter, where 14 already hang.

“The response on social media is ridiculous and the reactions from customers is crazy,” Lombardi told greaterportjeff.com. “People are buying tons of pints and quarts to go once a week. I’m only open five weeks but the repeat business and new customer ratio is just growing every week. I’m really impressed — actually — I’m more surprised at what’s happening.”

30 flavors

Customers flock to Mia’s Ice Cream for classics like Vanilla and Mint Chocolate Chip and more curious creations like Spicy Mango, Lavender Sky and Rosy Pistachio.

There are also alcohol-infused options such as Bananas Foster and Limoncello.

Dessert seekers can order standard cups and cones or try “chips and cream,” a large bowl with three scoops, waffle cone chips, hot fudge and whipped cream, ice cream tacos and milkshakes.

For four-legged ice cream lovers, Lombardi also serves puppy paws in the shape of paw prints and pops.

Those exploring Lombardi’s freezer case will notice many of the naturally colored flavors are jam-packed with hunks of ingredients that can barely fit on a tasting spoon.

His limited-time fall flavors modeled after autumnal pies and lattes for example, are fully loaded with large pecans, fresh chunks of apples and two types of graham crackers.

“Basically, anything is possible,” Lombardi said of turning baked desserts into ice cream. “The past two, three years I saw people experimenting and I did in turn.”

a labor of love

A stop in Chincoteague, Va., on a family trip to Myrtle Beach three years ago inspired Lombardi, a printer and construction photographer by trade, to pursue a calling as a neighborhood ice cream man. He noticed mammoth lines for ice cream trucks and began a years-long, deep-dive into the world of homemade ice cream.

A greater source of inspiration for Lombardi shines through two of his ice cream flavors.

His mother, Joyce Lombardi, who passed away last year at the age of 79, is remembered with Grandma’s Chocolate, a rich chocolate ice cream derived from a cocoa powder. The other flavorful nod is the Cookie Eruption, an Oreo, Chip’s Ahoy, chocolate chip and cookie dough-filled tribute to late guitarist Eddie Van Halen.

Lombardi’s ultimate tribute however is to his 13-year-old daughter, Mia.

“It’s funny, cause I get more reaction from people she talks to about it than directly from her,” Lombardi said of Mia’s feelings on having an ice cream parlor bare her name. “She’s pretty excited, but she is 13, she’s got other things on her mind, but she’s happy. My main thing with this is, I wanted to show her how to start something from absolutely nothing.”