Coming soon: Tasty Unicorn serving smiles on Fifth Street

Abby Hoover
Managing Editor

For Perry Jordan, starting the Tasty Unicorn ice cream truck during a pandemic was a risk, but he soon realized it was exactly what the people needed. Now, he and his wife Misty are taking the leap to open a brick and mortar store on Fifth Street in Columbus Park.

The Jordans are no strangers to running a family business. They owned a print shop that also vinyl wrapped food trucks with colorful advertising graphics, which initially prompted the idea to start their own. They had already bought a truck and started customizing when the pandemic began, so they hit pause.

A few months later, their current trailer came up for sale, already equipped for soft-serve ice cream.

“So we bought it, and within 48 hours we had it wrapped and were selling,” Jordan said. “So we tried the soft-serve side of it, decided we weren’t big fans of doing soft-serve. We went to dipped ice cream after that.”
He originally started the truck thinking it would be a part-time job and something fun to do with his kids.

“That went from zero to 100 real fast,” Jordan said. “Like, it just took off like mad and we just ran with it. We actually closed our print business this year, about five months ago, because we just went full-time, 100%.”

Jordan sees it as a blessing in disguise, especially with the amount of businesses that didn’t survive the pandemic and restaurants that had to close.

“It seems like a lot of food trucks popped up last year because of COVID, a lot of restaurants closed their storefronts and went to trucks because of that,” Jordan said. “A lot of people got really comfortable with the idea of how COVID treated us. COVID was great because no one was open, no one really left their neighborhood, so the neighborhoods did us really good.”

This year, it’s the opposite, with people venturing out of their neighborhoods more and pursuing a new normal, dining in restaurants and planning events.

“So there’s a lot of people that thought they could be full-time food truckers, but they didn’t prepare ahead of time, thinking, ‘What’s our next step after that?’” Jordan said. “So we’d kind of thought a little bit ahead already, were promoting private events and things like that and this year we haven’t done a lot of pop-ups, because we’ve been so booked in private events.”

Tasty Unicorn has made appearances at graduation parties, birthdays, employee appreciation and customer appreciation events, and other private events.

“Our minimum is so much cheaper than what a hot food truck is, there’s so much more prep with a hot food truck,” Jordan said. “Plus, if we don’t sell the ice cream out, we put our lids back on and plug our freezers in at the end of the night and life goes on.”

Jordan’s family helps him run the truck, along with two other part-time employees. He looks forward to hiring a few more from the neighborhood when they open their permanent location.

“When I was a little kid, my grandma was a seamstress by trade and one of her closest best friends and customers lived two blocks up,” Jordan said of Tasty Unicorn’s future home. “I was around this neighborhood my whole life growing up.”

He feels at home in Columbus Park, which he said has the benefit of being in the heart of the city, but is tucked away.

“You kind of get both a lot of traffic from the Northland that comes down here, you get a lot of people from the city that come, so it’s just like a good in-between to me,” Jordan said. “It’s like the one little side of downtown that hasn’t really expanded when it comes to the food industry. We’ve always had Garozzo’s, Vietnam Café, we had the North End for the longest time, but other than that, there was nobody else really came this way to open restaurants.

While areas like downtown and River Market are over-saturated with good food, Jordan recognized that Columbus Park is an affordable, largely untapped option with the community to support it.

“They walk around like they would in a little [town]… everyone knows each other, versus the City Market area, the downtown area, it’s all condos so people don’t socialize nearly as much,” Jordan said.

From the very beginning, it felt like fate. One day, he was sitting in his office listening to music when it hit him – Tasty Unicorn! He went to his graphic designer, Ryan Moffit, with the name and told him to take his time. An hour later, he came back with the logo they’re using today. Jordan filed for an LLC and made social media pages almost immediately, six months before they even had equipment, and started to build a following.

Since then, he’s popped up all over the Kansas City metro, and returned to Columbus Park often. Eventually, a friend who owned the space that they’ll soon call home, reached out to him to consider the space.

“I chose [the location] because it’s ideal, it’s kind of small for what we’re doing, but there’s possibilities for expansion,” Jordan said.

About a month ago, they made the decision final.

“I said, ‘Well, the coffee shop’s coming in and the cookie shop’s already there, we think it’s time to bring ice cream,’” Jordan said. “I had zero plans to do this right now. Absolutely no plans, like I wanted a brick and mortar, but I always said if the right deal popped up I’d hop on it. This ended up being the right deal, and the fact that they want me here, that makes me feel a lot better about it.”

Everyone in the neighborhood has been very supportive of it, but Jordan said they still don’t know quite what’s coming.

“This’ll be a lot different than what people expect, I think,” Jordan said. “When I created Tasty Unicorn, I never 100% branded it as ice cream only. I want it to be anything sweets related.”

He envisions an “all-around sweets shop.” In addition to ice cream, they plan to expand to include traditional and unique candies, different sodas, and other local treats.

“I kind of want to get other ethnicities’ candies because this neighborhood’s such a melting pot to begin with, I just figured if we bring in four or five different countries’ unique candies, it’ll just give another reason to come here,” Jordan said.

Tasty Unicorn has two trailers up and running and are working on a waffle truck, which they’ll be able to combine with their ice cream.

COVID wreaked havoc on their supply chain, so they’ve been rotating eight to 12 traditional flavors and specials like the Tiger King and the Cookie Monster on the truck.

“Once we get in here we’ll start making some other stuff that will be more unique occasionally, but I really like the idea of being traditional,” Jordan said, adding that they’d eventually explore getting their liquor license if the neighborhood was interested so they could make boozy milkshakes and the like.

“We plan to open sometime in November,” Jordan said. “We might not even be 100% full open for our weekly hours, but we want to do ice cream pies for the holidays.”

Jordan says they’re fortunate that they have a walk-up window in case there’s another lockdown, and he knows as a business owner in a pandemic, they have to plan for the worst.

Community is always on his mind as a small business. For the last year and a half, they’ve been working with the Don Bosco Center, contributing ice cream to the volunteers at the monthly Harvester’s Food Drives, and doing pop-ups in the neighborhood that donate 10% to the center.

“Food brings people together,” Jordan said. “Sweets make everyone happy, definitely, like our little motto is ‘serving smiles since 2020’, and that’s just everyday. Everybody loves ice cream. They’re just smiling when they walk away. It’s the happiest job I’ve ever had in my life.”

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