Updated October 16, 2020 - 12:46 pm
When Afters Ice Cream opens with Virgin Hotels Las Vegas on Jan. 15, it’ll be a match made in influencer heaven, two social media darlings joining forces to dominate a selfie-conscious world.
“Their Instagrams are just incredible,” said Richard “Boz” Bosworth, president and CEO of the resort. “What we love about their Instagram reach is how it literally feeds the ecosystem here. The vast majority of our food and beverage operations have significant Instagram reach. It’s always in front of you and reminds you that we have a variety of culinary offerings from fine dining to approachability, and at all different price points.”
He said they were looking for a “playful” ice cream offering and found the Southern California-based Afters (a term for “dessert” in the U.K. and some former colonies) to be “colorful, delicious, fun, floppy.”
Scott Nghiem, owner and CEO of Afters, confirms that “playful” runs strong in the company’s DNA.
“It’s the counterculture to what you would normally expect from a corporate ice cream shop,” he said. “Our flavors aren’t the most traditional. We like things that are current and relevant and are kind of untraditional, but good flavors that are very popular or cater to the international palate.”
Current flavor offerings at Afters, which has 27 locations in Southern California, include Jasmine Milk Tea (with the cheeky subtext “Because you kind of dig Asian stuff”), Cookie Butter (“Trader Joe’s Loves Afters”), Vietnamese Coffee (“Black coffee is boring”) and Cookie Monster (“All kinds of cookies & cream & fudge & yeah”).
There’s an option to get any of them tucked inside The Milky Bun, which is the topic of much of the shutter-clicking. Nghiem said The Milky Bun is sort of like a glazed doughnut but with increased density to enable it to endure being overstuffed with ice cream and cereal.
“Then we actually seal it back up and heat it up, for a hot/cold effect,” he said.
Nghiem said cereal-craving millennials can choose their own varieties, such as the Afters-made cornflakes that are a natural with the Milk and Cereal ice cream flavor.
“We kicked around adding your favorite cereals,” he said. “A lot of childhood memories went into the brand.”
A lot of cheekiness, too, and plenty of cool factor, starting with the fact that headquarters is in surfer mecca Huntington Beach. Merch includes sweatshirts emblazoned “Off-Diet,” “Anti-Diet Diet Club” or “Diet Starts Tomorrow,” and future locations are teased with “Ruining diets here soon.”
“We definitely wanted a high-quality, playful ice cream offering,” Bosworth said. “And ice cream that tasted great. We found Afters to be the most playful.”