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The Cool Off Cart

May 11, 2010

by Courtney DiFiore

ALBANY, NY—Spring is here and things are heating up, which is good for Mark Guido who is in the business of cooling people off with ice cream. Guido’s Desserts season has begun. It usually runs from the end of March to the end of October. Guido’s Desserts is owned and operated by Mark Guido who started the business 29 years ago.

Guido has a cart he created himself. He installed a generator on a small trailer and made the machine to serve soft ice cream and frozen yogurt. Based out of a makeshift storage area on the corner of State Street and Swan, Guido not only sells his products in Albany but in other parts of the region.

“I sell within about a one to two mile radius of Albany,” Guido said.

Guido’s Desserts vending in Capitol Park (Courtney DiFiore)

Normally, Monday through Friday, Guido takes his cart to Capitol Park by the Legislative Office Building from 11 to 3. He attracts a lot of state workers, but his customers also include families.

Joe Graziano has been coming here for eight years. “I know Mark a while,” Graziano said. Guido sells some of his products through Graziano’s store.

Guido and his cart travel throughout the region for different events, mostly on the weekends. He just finished a stint at the annual Tulip Festival in Washington Park. For the two day festival, Guido’s Desserts pitch their green and white umbrella and station their cart alongside a line of other carts selling other goods. Guido also makes his way to the Arts and Crafts Fair in New Paltz, a gay pride parade, and the River Festival in Troy.

“I also work Alive at 5s at Albany, and plaza concerts, and fourth of July,” he said.

Before Guido’s Desserts, Guido was into pizza for a short time until his idea for ice cream began while working on a soft-serve ice cream machine. He graduated from Hudson Valley Community College in Troy with two associate’s degrees. He has a degree in refrigeration technology and electrical construction. It wasn’t until 1981, almost 30 years ago, that he started his dessert shop. The store front was successful for the first two years, but after the revenue declined compared with off site sales, it closed and became a place for storage. Finding reliable employees was also an issue.

“As the summer progresses, I hire people. I have about two full time workers, and a couple part time workers,” says Guido.

They sell soft ice cream, frozen yogurt, yogurt sandwiches, Dove bars, Ben & Jerry’s bars, and homemade Italian ice.

Old store front (Courtney DiFiore)

The top selling items are the Colombo frozen yogurt and Italian ice.

“We were looking all over for an Italian ice, throughout the whole block,” said Amiee Conlee, an emergency physician originally from the Lake Placid area.

Cart patrons will find a lighthearted and fun atmosphere at the Guido cart.



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