“It was important to them that we went and got educations and didn’t end up in the food industry but somehow we did.”
The industry runs in the family, Ashely Cheng fully admits. The family landed in Austin in the seventies, with the help of her great uncle, a former math professor at Huston-Tillotson University, sponsoring their move. Looking back on it now, Ashley beams at the closeness of proximity between the SPUN Ice Cream flagship store and Huston-Tillotson in East Austin.
Her father owns Chinatown in the Bee Caves area (where she and her siblings learned the ways of industry, hands on) and her aunt owns Freda’s, a Cajun-influenced North Austin restaurant. She and her sister Christina, focused on degrees that weren’t based in the industry (Ashley went to Boston University and Christina went to UT after a stint at the University of Chicago). After a few years in journalism, Christina decided to get back in the family business and earned her pastry certificate from Le Cordon Bleu.
With the help of their cousin, Christopher, they opened SPUN in 2015. The trio manage the ice cream shop, with their focus on liquid nitrogen ice cream. “It’s not just a gimmick, it has a different texture. The ingredients are really fresh”, she says. Their focus of local and fresh ingredients and made from scratch mentality sets SPUN apart from other shops. Along with their flagship store on the East Side, they just opened their second location at the Domain along with their ice cream truck. “There’s so much room for creativity in the ice cream world. We focus on nostalgic, childhood flavors we grew up on”, Ashley points out. Not only does SPUN make it fun to play with your food, they tug at your heart strings with childhood flavor combos made for grown palettes.