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Friday, Jun 9, 2023

Ice Cream Maker Serves Up Goodwill in Charitable Work

Ice Cream Maker Serves Up Goodwill in Charitable Work Best Community Partner – Dandy Don’s Homemade Ice Cream By JEFF WEISS Contributing Reporter It’s bedlam at Van Nuys-based Dandy Don’s Homemade Ice Cream. The ice cream scoops weren’t delivered and the boxes from another truck’s shipment are wildly strewn across the cargo area. But founder Don Whittemore stays cool. Maybe it’s a result of the years spent in the pressure-filled music industry where he promoted the likes of The Beatles, Elvis Presley, and David Bowie. Or perhaps it’s the hundreds of gallons of ice cream in the walk-in freezer, a stone’s throw from his gold-plaque-adorned office. Either way, business is literally sweet at Dandy Don’s, a company that peddles ice cream and sorbet to over 150 restaurants and hotels in the Los Angeles area including Caf & #233; Bizou, Kate Mantilini, and the Saddle Peak Lodge. In addition to the wholesale game, Dandy Don’s caters 50-75 personalized parties, galas, and television and film sets each month. Despite revenues of just under $1 million a year, Whittemore prides himself on his altruistic spirit, donating much of the company’s time, energy, and ice cream to various organizations. Charities such as the L.A. Free Clinic, Children Affected by AIDS, the Concern Foundation, the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and the Special Olympics have all been the recipients of Whittemore’s generosity. “It’s better to give than to receive,” the jovial Whittemore maintains. “It’s a great place to show people what we can do and to give back to the community. We do at least 20 events a year and we donate discount certificates to silent auctions.” The Concern Foundation spoke highly of Whittemore’s charitable spirit. “We have a block party each year and all the money goes to research. Don has been involved with our organization for 10 to 15 years and he is without a question one of the most charitable individuals that we have. He donates all of his ice cream and all of his time. He is always a big hit at our party. He is a wonderful man,” Derek Alpert, president of the Concern Foundation said. Founded in 1981 The company got its start in 1981, when Whittemore purchased The Creamery, a now defunct ice cream parlor on Ventura Boulevard in Tarzana. “It seemed like a great idea. I needed to get out of the music business because I couldn’t spend enough time with my family and I loved ice cream,” Whittemore said. “One day I saw them (The Creamery’s former owners) making homemade ice cream right in the window. I purchased the store foolishly without doing my research and I increased the business each year, but it’s very tough to support a family selling retail ice cream. We sold at a huge loss. If I had to advise anyone about business, I would say always do lots and lots of research.” Business didn’t fully take off until the company moved into new digs in 1994, switching locations from its earthquake-damaged location in Northridge to Van Nuys. Around the same time, a California businessman named David Tong approached Whittemore to take the Dandy Don’s brand to China. Currently, there are a Dandy Don’s factory and three locations located in Guangzhou, which pay licensing and royalty fees each year. But even if Whittemore’s business revenues grew exponentially, the man who once spearheaded drives to pick up trash off of Tarzana freeway off-ramps and remove the city’s graffiti says he would not abandon his benevolent ideals. “Working with charities of all stripes is a wonderful thing. Even in my personal life, I’ve donated 54 pints of blood. We do Concerned Foundation’s party each year and a woman hired us who had seen us working there four years previous. We catered a sundae party at her law firm, then when she switched law firms years later she brought us along,” Whittemore said. “It’s great to see that when you care for people they care right back.”

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