Meeting the Dream Team from Yelo’d
Interview by Catherine Paet-Pondanera
“Yelo” might mean “ice” in Tagalog, the national language of the Philippines, but Yelo’d is a soft served ice cream shop that is sure to warm anyone’s heart. Co-owners Ailynn and Jason Wong opened their doors in July of 2018, on Whyte Avenue (10152A 82 Ave), yet this young business is already a go-to favourite for many Edmontonians.
I remember the first time I tried their Filipino and Chinese fusion ice cream. It was a cold, rainy, summer afternoon: the perfect weather for ice cream! Along with my cousin, we entered the shop and were greeted by warm lights, a flashy yellow and black wall, and a floor that said “ice ice baby”. I tried their ube and buko swirl on a black cone, and spoilers: it was delicious.
From their ice cream, to their baked goods, Yelo’d had flavours that were usually only available to me at home. Ailynn and Jason were kind enough to speak to me about this journey and what inspired their decision to open this shop that was so close to home.
Jason is a Red Seal journeyman (1), while Ailynn is a teacher with an education degree. “We’re both business owners by nature. We opened up an ice cream shop through the request of our ten-year old, who wanted to have an ice cream shop, and we said yes,” says Ailynn, when reflecting on their decision to open up Yelo’d. Now you know who to thank for this sweet shop on Whyte Ave.
Summer time is when this family really comes together. With the kids out of school, the shop becomes “a space where they can hang out and help out and learn good people skills, communications skills, and work habits,” says Ailynn. But Yelo’d is not a job for the kids; they are not forced to work. Rather, it is a place to spend time as a family.
This homey environment shows in the flavours and treats they sell. “They are flavours that we both grew up with. So we based a lot of ice cream, and our baked side flavours, on familiar flavours to us, and what we think people would like to get used to, and then also be a nostalgic flavour for our customers,” says Ailynn.
The team is always working hard to come up with new and interesting flavours to introduce to their customers. One of their most popular pints, for instance, is a combination that most people would never associate with ice cream: soy sauce and chow mein. You can’t judge it before you try it. This pint is popular for a reason.
“We had been wanting to try it for a long time. We tried just simply soy sauce with our with our premium hard ice cream base that we make. It ended up tasting butterscotch-y or caramel-y, so we were pretty surprised. We reference it like an Asian salted caramel, as the base flavour and then we add the crispy chow mein noodles that we soak dip in our house made caramel sauce,” says Jason.
Edmonton has allowed this family business to flourish. “The entrepreneurial spirit in this city is strong,” says Jason, “and it translates into the people that come through the door. People are very happy to support a local and quality product.”
Yet, none of this would have been possible without Jason and Ailynn’s love and dedication to each other. “We love working together. We make a good team. It’s important for us. We both bring different things to the table,” says Ailynn. And the yin yang logo that represents the Yelo’d shop also represents the strength of this union.
“When I was about 12 and Ailynn was about 16, I used to wear a yin yang pendant. We were walking just down here on Whyte Ave, and there was a vendor at one of the festivals selling another ying yang pedant, a female version of that one that I wore,” Jason says. “So I bought her one and that’s what that’s what our symbol is based on, the yin yang symbol. It’s always been a symbol over the decades that has followed us and always been a balance between the two of us.”
Yelo’d is a shop that I always look forward to going to. There’s always something new and interesting to try out. Rain, snow, or shine, Jason and Ailynn will be there to welcome you with a smile.
(1) “The Red Seal Interprovincial Standards Program, also known as Red Seal or simply IP, is a set of trade qualifications in Canada, jointly administered by the Federal, Provincial and Territorial governments. The program has run since 1959. With Red Seal endorsement of their apprenticeship training, certain skilled trades workers are qualified to work in all provinces and territories without further examination.” (WIKI)