Born on the coast of North Carolina, Kevin Best spent his youth working on a farm. Like most southern kids, he developed an affinity for buttermilk biscuits, ice cream, and a good, home-cooked meal. The women in his life were his greatest teachers; as gifted chefs and hostesses, his mother and grandmother worked wonders in the kitchen. These early influences would lead him into the restaurant business, inspiring an eye toward hospitality and the culinary arts that he’d never be able to shake, no matter how hard he tried.
An avid lover of music, Kevin studied Jazz Performance at UNC Greensboro, but was drawn to the restaurant biz after college. After learning all about California wines as a GM at the Undercurrant in Wilmington, NC, he and his lovely wife Misty picked up and moved to the west coast.
Upon arriving in San Francisco, the couple opened Boxed Foods Company in 2004, a sandwich and salad shop with locally-sourced produce and top-of-the-line ingredients. Shortly after, they opened B Restaurant in Oakland and a second location in San Francisco, overlooking the Yerba Buena Gardens. Focusing on cocktails and small plates, Kevin describes it as “an oasis in the middle of the city.” In 2009, the couple worked with friends to open ERA Art Bar and Lounge in Oakland, which features work from local artists and live music.
Despite these diverse endeavors, Kevin knew it was time for something different. Uncharted territory. So he partnered with longtime pal Neil Rideout in 2014 to begin laying the plans for Little Giant Ice Cream. But what is it, exactly, that makes ice cream so special?
“My earliest memory of ice cream revolves around my grandmother’s hand-cranked ice cream maker, which she used to make a chunky vanilla topped off with warm maple syrup– a combination that can only be described as killer,” says Kevin. “Then there were the teenage years. Every girl that would say yes to my invitation to go on a date to the mall would get a romantic stop by the Dairy Queen to share their favorite Blizzard flavor. Ice cream on a date back then was like Chardonnay on a date now. Always seemed to make me feel a little less dorky. I know the girls were smiling about the ice cream, but I always told myself, ‘I took them to get the ice cream.’”