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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

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The hobby of ice cream

The Tubby Robot utilizes the alley space next to the shop in Manayunk to display games (Photo by Emily Graham ’20).

Manayunk shop combines ice cream and video games.

What started as a childhood friendship, a love for video games and a hobby born from a wedding gift has turned into an ice cream shop in Manayunk.

The Tubby Robot Ice Cream Factory, located at 4369 Main St., opened its doors to the public in March of 2017.

Philadelphia natives and longtime friends Chris Maguire and Steve Wright Jr. own the shop and serve various homemade ice cream flavors and sundaes.

“I’ve made ice cream as a hobby ever since I got married,” Maguire said.

Maguire, a former web developer, received an ice cream maker as a wedding gift in 2011. After trial and error, experimentation and research, he began to make successful batches of ice cream.

From there, he decided to try to make a living out of his hobby.

Wright also left behind a different career to pursue the ice cream business. Before helping Maguire open Tubby Robot, Wright worked for the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services doing work in child abuse cases and daycare licensure.

“While it was good work morally, I felt like it was not great on my mind,” Wright said. “Being able to open the ice cream shop where I can bring smiles to people’s faces, especially children, really reenergized me.”

Maguire and Wright run the shop as a collaborative team, making the ice cream together and bouncing ideas off each other.

The Tubby Robot has everything from classic flavors like chocolate, vanilla and mint chocolate chip to extravagant sundaes like the Belgian Waffle Sundae, the Ice Cream Hoagie and the Banana Split. Every option is homemade.

The handcrafted ice cream isn’t the only thing that draws people into the shop.

As customers enjoy their frozen treat, they are invited to play arcade games for free. The games change every week and include classics like Donkey Kong and Pac-Man.

“I wanted to combine my two favorite things in life which are ice cream and video games,” Maguire said. “So an ice cream parlor where you can play video games seemed like a pretty good place to me.”

Since the pair did not have much space to work with inside the shop, they got creative. Stools line a bar that faces the window to an alley.

In the alleyway hangs the “wall-O-vision” where games are displayed on projector screens. Customers can sit at the bar and play the games using homemade joysticks.

To go along with the vintage game theme, a mosaic of tiles behind the ice cream counter, which Maguire crafted himself, created pixelated images that resemble old video games.

“I wanted to put a lot of myself into it,” Maguire said. “If you’re going to spend all your time working on a business, it better be something you love.”

Since its opening in 2017, the community surrounding the shop has been supportive, according to Maguire.

“We’ve got a cast of a hundred, at least, regulars who we see every single week,” Maguire said.

Jacinta Nguyen ’20 visited Tubby Robot last year, shortly after the shop opened. During her visit, she enjoyed a scoop of mint chocolate chip ice cream.

“It’s really cool how they make the ice cream,” Nguyen said. “And customer service is really great.”

Whether you want a simple scoop of chocolate ice cream or an extravagant sundae with gooey chocolate syrup, Tubby Robot has something for everyone.

For ice cream in a cup, prices range from $4 to $9. In a cone, one scoop is $4.50 and two is $6.50, with toppings $0.75 each.

Hand-crafted sundaes vary in price from $7 to $13.50, depending on the type and size. There are 16 different ice cream flavors available, as well as six custom sundaes.

The Tubby Robot Ice Cream Factory is open Wednesday through Sunday from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m.

“I think that everyone should try it out at least once,” Nguyen said. “It’s an experience.”

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    Charli SmithOct 23, 2019 at 6:16 am

    Well a hobby is something you do for fun and to past the time, so i guess it would be considered one.