Full Tilt Ice Cream turns five Thursday – and you can help them give gifts

June 19, 2013 at 9:43 pm | In West Seattle news, White Center | 18 Comments

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Justin Cline remembers back when, if he saw someone wearing something bearing the logo of his business, Full Tilt Ice Cream, “it was somebody I knew.”

Not any more, though, still, he says, “I see our shirts and stickers out there, and it blows me away. But – we make the ice cream the same way we did when I was making it all myself.”

The output’s too much for just Justin to handle these days – 2,200 gallons a week, he calculates, and then some.

Full Tilt marks its fifth anniversary tomorrow: June 20, 2008, Justin and wife Ann Magyar opened their doors in downtown White Center, in the same little hole-in-the-wall-ish spot where we talked with him this afternoon, after receiving a note letting us know FT-WC will donate its anniversary-day profits to the White Center Food Bank tomorrow, as usual.

White Center is the original store in a Full Tilt group that’s now grown to four, in addition to a partnership for Highscore Burgers, which opened on the eastside earlier this year, and a Full Tilt shop about to open on the campus of Microsoft, where Justin worked as a programmer 15 years ago.

They also have a factory/warehouse facility in the South Park area; in the beginning, Justin made it all in the back of the WC shop.

Other numbers have continued to grow: Full Tilt Ice Cream is carried in more than 60 Northwest grocery stores and served in 24 restaurants.

The name is pinball-inspired (we note that when Justin’s phone went off during our interview, it was the clanging sound of a pinball machine; there are five at FT-WC, plus five other game machines). And any way you look at it, this business is a winner.

“We didn’t see it getting this big,” Justin reflects. “We thought we’d have the one store … I didn’t even think anybody was going to show up that first day (in 2008) besides friends and family.” (We had published the announcement a week and a half earlier, and it seemed obvious from the comments that the concept alone was a hit.)

“It’s just been really, really crazy.”

Did we mention, Justin and Ann became parents halfway through these first five years (just a few months before we interviewed them about their third anniversary)? Son Moss is now 2 1/2. The Full Tilt employee family has grown to 18; Ann, a longtime teacher, handles the books, and Justin says they have a fulltime salesperson, a former delivery driver who, despite sales experience, has converted cold calls into ice-cream deals, like an exclusive arrangement at the moment with Whole Foods carrying their vegan flavors.

Speaking of sales … Salted caramel remains the top-selling flavor. “Probably four to one” over everything else, Justin observes.

And he remains in awe of their products’ popularity. “I’m still amazed, every day, that (the ice cream) sells.” It’s still handchurned; they just make more of it.

Next goal, they hope to have Full Tilt Ice Cream carried all over the West Coast, “Canada to San Diego.”

But they haven’t gone too corporate – yet. “Ann and I still have a staff meeting every Monday to figure out what flavors we’re going to make.”

So what’s the secret of their success, beyond tasty ice cream?

If you really care about what you’re making, people are going to like it, he says, suggesting that most food failures are made by people who tried to make the biggest profits with the least amount of investment and the least amount of caring.

Looking across the street, he offers the example: “Proletariat (Pizza) does really great because they love what they do.”

As he does.

About the anniversary tomorrow (Thursday, June 20th): 2-10 pm, make a purchase at the White Center Full Tilt store (9629 16th SW, if you’re new in town) and the profits go to the White Center Food Bank. FT will be donating kid-scoop coupons too, Justin says.

P.S. There’s also a Full Tilt tasting scheduled at Metropolitan Market (WSB sponsor) in Admiral on Thursday, 4-7 pm.

18 Comments

  1. Congrats!

    Comment by smokeycretin9 — 9:48 pm June 19, 2013 #

  2. Awesome

    Comment by Mike — 9:55 pm June 19, 2013 #

  3. Full Tilt RULES! Congrats to Justin and Ann. I remember when FT first opened in White Center before hardly anything else was there. Everyone was asking why they would open in WHITE CENTER. Gasp. Since then, a ton of other really cool businesses have opened too, and now we have all of these great people doing amazing work in our community. Thanks for rockin’ our community Justin and Ann. You rule!

    Comment by I'mcoveredinbees — 10:07 pm June 19, 2013 #

  4. Awesome people. Awesome product.

    Comment by liz — 10:10 pm June 19, 2013 #

  5. What about the Full Tilt in Colombia City? That’s the one I’ve been to and it was sweet. ;)

    Comment by Jeanie — 10:41 pm June 19, 2013 #

  6. That’s one of the four mentioned in passing – WC, Columbia City, U District, Ballard. Plus the outposts – Highscore Burgers and the upcoming one at Microsoft.

    Comment by WSB — 10:44 pm June 19, 2013 #

  7. Kudos Justin!

    Comment by cjboffoli — 6:27 am June 20, 2013 #

  8. Best ice cream ever. The vegan is so good you have no idea it’s non dairy. Justin is an ice cream making genius!! I am so glad they had the courage to open in such a bad economy in white center! Thank you guys for starting the positive wave of good businesses to WC.

    Comment by Cclarue — 7:07 am June 20, 2013 #

  9. oh no – i can”t make it down this year – Happy Birthday!!

    Comment by Christie — 7:24 am June 20, 2013 #

  10. I’ve been meaning to make a Full Tilt visit!

    .

    Will try to do so this afternoon!

    .

    Congrats on five years, and your great success, Justin and Ann. I remember you guys coming through my line at McLendons when “building” the White Center Store!

    .

    Mike

    Comment by miws — 7:32 am June 20, 2013 #

  11. Full Tilt is the best! Thank you so much for having such tasty vegan ice cream and gluten free cones so I can enjoy going out for ice cream too. My son and I love it there and wouldn’t go anywhere else in WC/WS.

    Comment by D-Mom — 7:45 am June 20, 2013 #

  12. I guess I know where the kids and I will be heading later! Great excuse for some ice cream. Congratulations on 5 years!

    Comment by kayo — 7:51 am June 20, 2013 #

  13. Thanks for 5 years of GREAT ice cream. Thanks also for introducing us to Proletariat Pizza – you guys are great neighbors. Finally – thanks for the tip about Ewan McGregor sharing the stage of New Day with you guys. Obi Wan and great ice cream in one morning. Be still my beating heart ; )

    Comment by JoanE — 8:15 am June 20, 2013 #

  14. Congratulations, Justin! This is a big day. Full Tilt can start school nest year.

    Thanks for being a good friend and spoiling us so well.

    Comment by White Moustache — 9:55 am June 20, 2013 #

  15. Hi Ann!
    Brings a big smile on my face every time I hear of your and Justin’s success.
    Happy Anniversary!
    Lauren

    Comment by Lauren Wilson — 10:52 am June 20, 2013 #

  16. Happy Anniversary! Thank you for bringing a great family business to our neighborhood and making our community stronger! and thank you for offering vegan ice cream thats good! Full tilt is always a good time!

    Comment by Marie — 1:34 pm June 20, 2013 #

  17. Hooray!!! We moved into our house at the beginning of May five years ago, and I was so excited when you moved into the neighborhood too!!

    Comment by AJP — 11:09 pm June 20, 2013 #

  18. NEXT should be home delivery for shut-ins!!!!

    Comment by Gina — 1:36 pm June 21, 2013 #

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