Young alumnus opens unique eatery in Kennesaw
Wei Huang ’11, a young alumnus of Kennesaw State University, is operating a unique eatery located not far from his alma mater. His company, IC HOT Asian Ice Cream and Snacks, opened in October 2016 inside Orchard Square Shopping Center at 4290 Bells Ferry Road in Kennesaw.
Huang has been involved with and interested in food service since he and his family relocated to Cobb County from New York, which eventually led him to founding his own shop.
“I moved down here when I was 14 years old and my dad decided to open a Chinese take-out restaurant,” Huang said. “So, I’ve actually been in the food industry business since I was 14. I’ve always been managing his restaurant, things like staffing and paperwork. So, I’ve grown up in the food industry.”
After earning a Bachelor of Business Administration in international business from Kennesaw State, Huang worked outside of the restaurant business for a while, but then came back.
“I decided to venture out a little bit and try to do some different things,” Huang said. Some of the jobs he performed right out of KSU included working as a stock broker and then as an insurance agent.
Still searching to find his passion, Huang said he went to visit his grandparents in New York.
“I was brainstorming ideas when I was there and I came across ice cream,” Huang said. “So, I did a little research and nobody really knows where it originated from, but it got really popular in Thailand where they have a lot of sweet vendors, and everybody loved it.
“Then, it started expanding in New York and California first, that’s when I first saw it in New York. When I visited, everybody was happy eating ice cream and I thought I can bring that over here to Kennesaw where I grew up.”
After returning to Georgia, Huang spent more than a year experimenting, researching and planning his business. “I did all the designs and came up with all of the flavors,” he said.
IC HOT’s menu features three main items—ice cream rolls, acai bowls and warm dessert buns—that come in a variety of flavors and combinations. Ice cream rolls are placed in a cup with toppings added while acai bowls, similar to thick smoothies, come from Brazil and are rich in antioxidants and known for their health benefits. The Asian, steamed buns date back thousands of years in Chinese culture and have fillings of different flavors.
“We’ve been here three months now and I’ve changed my menu twice already,” Huang said. “I always like to experiment with food, trying new things out.
“I just feel like ice cream is one of those things that brings joy to people. I also like to incorporate healthy food. The buns are like a snack, and I love them myself.”
Also a graduate of Sprayberry High School in Marietta, Huang values the education he received at Kennesaw State, which included several management and finance classes in the Michael J. Coles College of Business. He studied abroad in China during the summer of 2008 and was very involved with KSU’s Student Management Investment Fund (SMIF) LLC team.
“I am one of the founding fathers of SMIF,” Huang said. “That kind of helped me in terms of learning how to manage individuals and how to open a business, from a corporate standpoint. I’ve always been passionate about business.”
With his new company, Huang is staying connected with Kennesaw State by hiring its students and holding university activities inside IC HOT. One of those events, where Huang’s food will be shared with fellow graduates of the university, is coming up on the afternoon of Saturday, Jan. 28 when the KSU Alumni Association hosts a Chinese New Year Celebration.
“I really want to support Kennesaw State and the students,” Huang said. “I graduated from Kennesaw and its growing really big, which I love to see. I love to keep in touch.”
During the recent winter holidays, Huang said IC HOT was pretty busy, but he anticipates the best times are to come as the weather gets warmer. He expects business to pick up even more by March.
“I’m trying to hire more staff now just to keep up with the demand,” Huang said. “I’m excited, but at the same time a little bit scared.”
IC HOT is currently open seven days a week from noon until 11 p.m. for anyone wanting to try ice cream or other tasty treats that are a little different from what other places in the area serve.