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Young Garden City entrepreneur thrives in gelato business after ditching health care job

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On paper, Brandyn Williams seemed to be the least likely individual to enter the Italian ice and gelato business. But dissatisfaction climbing the corporate ladder — along with an entrepreneurial spirit — has driven him to thrive in it.

His resume boasts two master’s degrees and experience in healthcare administration, but his heart just wasn’t in the field. He opted to open Cherry Valley deli, which fell victim to adverse business conditions stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.

His second enterprise has been a different story. Dolce Bella, an Italian ice and gelato cart that two years ago began serving frozen sweets at weddings, bar mitzvahs and other private events now operates a fleet of 11 carts.

What’s more, he opened his flagship store in the Roosevelt Field Mall — between JC Penny and Starbucks — three weeks ago.

“The gelatos are all imported from Sicily, every ingredient. The milk is right off the boat,” said Williams of Garden City. “I do crazy flavors/ I do pumpkin spice, s’mores, cheesecake, hot cocoa. They’re all phenomenal.”

The rotating list of Italian ice flavors includes such staples as lemon, chocolate and cherry, plus more eccentric offerings the likes of tangerine, sour apple and cantaloupe.

After customer’s choose their flavor, Williams lets them pop what he calls the “Dolce boom,” a flavor bubble that emits smoke when popped, before topping their bowl with a final scoop.

A 4 a.m. cannoli craving

In addition to his signature frozen treats, the new kiosk offers Williams’ newest delight: crazy cannoli creations. One side of the kiosk boasts cannoli and rainbow cookie cannoli cakes, as well as mini and standard-size cannoli shells. While guests can order a traditional cannoli, they can also enjoy one of William’s candy- and cookie-stuffed cannoli cream flavors, including Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, pistachio, rainbow cookie, Snickers, espresso and more.

“The cannoli cream: I came up with that at 4 o’clock in the morning after working an event last year,” he said. “I was craving Reese’s pieces, but I also wanted cannoli.

“I thought, ‘Imagine if I put those together,'” he continued. “At 5 o’clock in the morning, I ate it. I thought ‘Oh my god, I freaking have something.'”

Williams also serves his cannolis at private events from two Dolce Bella carts dedicated to the fan-favorite pastry, bring his total number of carts to 13.

Just as he grew his fleet of carts, the 30-year-old entrepreneur envisions expanding his brick-and-mortar locations.

“I would love to be in every mall,” Williams said. “I want to be the next big thing.”