Glencoe resident and rising New Trier High School senior Adam Rubin has found a cool way to make money during summer vacation: He sells shaved ice from a mobile food cart called Mister Chill Hawaiian Shaved Ice, and people are lining up for the sweet, cold treat.
In addition to working some of the North Shore’s hottest summer events including the Glencoe Bike Race and Winnetka Music Festival, Mister Chill attracts long lines at the Highwood Evening Market on Wednesdays and at Ravinia Food Truck Thursdays. That is in addition to sales at the corner of Park and Vernon in Glencoe every Saturday and Sunday. Mister Chill is even available for private parties.
The young entrepreneur handcrafts his sweet, snow-like product, building a business that has brought him invaluable experience.
“It’s been very hectic but fantastic at the same time,” said Rubin of Mister Chill’s growing success. “Originally, I never would have thought it would turn into something like this where all my classmates know I’m Mister Chill. It’s pretty cool to think about how it has transformed my life.”
A visit to a shaved ice stand in Aspen with his family in the summer of 2016 inspired Rubin to start his business. Then just 16, he decided to bring the unique treat to the North Shore in his own way, and he said the company grew quickly.
“Within 10 days we got it all up and running and got our brand, our own logo, our own cart, everything,” he said. “We were in the Winnetka Sidewalk Sale the next week serving Mister Chill.”
What Rubin describes as the “perfect summer treat” is finely shaved, melt-in-your-mouth ice topped with Mister Chill’s handcrafted flavors. With more than 100 flavors including blue raspberry, mango and coconut to choose from, the combinations are endless.
Since that first sale in 2016, customers’ response to the treat has been overwhelmingly positive.
“I honestly haven’t had one complaint about it, everyone seems to love it,” said Rubin.
Rubin has begun hiring regular employees, such as his recently appointed social media director. He also is learning to manage municipal regulations that potentially could affect mobile food carts.
“This year we are seen as a pilot program for possible food trucks and other carts which might want to come to Glencoe in the future,” said Rubin.
He said his father, Lou Rubin, has been helpful in dealing with Glencoe’s regulations.
“Over time, we’ve gone to the village board meetings and they’ve begun to accommodate Mister Chill in a more formal way,” Lou Rubin said.
The Village of Glencoe code states that you have to have a brick and mortar building to sell on a sidewalk. A special events permit allows vendors to sell their products for specific events, like the Glencoe Bike Race. This requires submitting an application for approval. The Village of Glencoe allows Mister Chill to uphold a weekly special events permit for its spot on the corner of Park and Vernon, something never done before.
“The cool thing from my point of view is that you can actually make an impact on your own town by doing this the right way, meeting with the village and following the rules. We have worked with the village to make sure everything is done within their requirements. Adam has learned that you have to be an advocate for your own business and what you’re trying to do, it doesn’t just happen on its own,” said Lou.
Working with the village is only one of the many valuable lessons the younger Rubin has learned from this experience. By establishing a registered company, he dealt with obtaining business insurance, accounting, paying sales taxes, and having a charitable mission (Rubin has decided to donate a percentage of his sales to deserving charities, such as the Chicago Food Bank).
“I learn invaluable information which you can’t learn in a classroom,” he said. “It’s a great lesson for the future because if I end up doing something in the business world or become an entrepreneur, I’ll have all these lessons I’ve learned through this business to guide me.”
As the business has grown, so has Adam.
“You learn quickly that it’s not just a lemonade stand, there’s a bit more to it,” said Lou Rubin. “The interpersonal communication and dealing with customers, the responsibility and pressure… Working under pressure isn’t easy. It has opened up his view for his future.”
“Who knows, maybe down the road it can be franchised and grown into a bigger brand,” said Adam. “I love seeing kids smile when they taste it and I feel like if I brighten up my customers’ day, it brightens up my day too.”
Stop by the Mister Chill cart at the corner of Park and Vernon in Glencoe every Saturday and Sunday, or at Highwood Evening Markets on Wednesday evenings and Ravinia Food Truck Thursdays on Thursday evenings. For a full schedule of events and more information, visit misterchill.net, like Mister Chill on Facebook, or follow @misterchill.chicago on Instagram.