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Road Profile: Ice cream shop owner serves up Philly flavor and pride in Denver

If you’re in town for the Philadelphia Union’s first road game of the season Saturday, you’ll find a little piece of home at Ice Cream Riot

Philadelphia and Denver don’t have a lot in common, but for the past four years residents there have been able to get a small taste of Philly at an independent ice cream and water ice shop called Ice Cream Riot, located at 1238 East Colfax Avenue near the corner of Colfax and Lafayette in Capitol Hill.

I know about Ice Cream Riot because I attended high school with its owner, Jim McNutt, back in the late mid-’90s in South Jersey.

Jim will be the first to admit that he isn’t a big soccer fan — his shop proudly flies the flags of the Eagles, Phillies, Sixers and Flyers but not the blue and gold. Still, with the Union making their every other year trip to the Mile High City area this weekend, I figured this would be a great time to catch up with him and learn a little bit about what life is like for a Philly guy in Colorado.

You’ve been out in Denver now for a while. What brought you to Colorado and made you stick around? How did you get into the ice cream business?

Long story short, what brought me to Colorado was a couple things. Number one I moved out here when I was 31. I lived in South Jersey/South Philly my whole life; it was time to go to see what else was out there. So a friend of mine that I grew up with he moved out here, I visited him and fell in love with it. It was time for a change man and I love it out here.

That’s why I’m here and I stick around because we have amazing stuff out here, the weather is amazing. It’s just a different vibe than back home. We have better laws in certain things like cannabis which wasn’t even legal when I go out here, but I moved out here to work in that business in a medical grow. How did I get in the ice cream business? Well dude, Mister Softee. Everybody from back home knows Mister Softee; 1998 senior year of (high school) I got a job driving a Mister Softee truck...Who knew 20 years later I’d have my own ice cream shop and be opening up two more in Denver.

What’s it like being a Philly sports fan in Colorado, especially with the recent success of the Eagles winning the Super Bowl? Have you found other Philly fans out there? Are you more sympathetic to the teams there now?

Being a Philly sports fan in Colorado really is not that big of a deal. There isn’t really a rivalry so they don’t care about us and we don’t really care about them. The Eagles and Broncos only play once every four years unless they meet in the Super Bowl, which would be awesome for being an Eagles fan out here. But it’s really not an issue. They don’t really care about us.

We’re known for being a Philly ice cream shop. We sell water ice, it’s the whole thing. Most of the Philly fans find me. I don’t make any bones about it, I talk about Philly sports on the Ice Cream Riot (social media sites). I like talking about them and pushing the fact that’s where I’m from, I grew up where Jersey meets Philly. It’s pretty cool. We get tons of people coming in my shop because they’ve heard about it back home, plus it’s the only place out here pretty much where you can get water ice. There’s a Rita’s but Rita’s aren’t everywhere out here like they are back home.

The Union are obviously in town to play the Rapids. Do you hear much about the Rapids there or are they far back of the mind like the Union often are here in Philly? How does Denver compare to Philadelphia as a sports town?

Straight up, I barely knew the Rapids were a thing. Now, granted I’m not Mr. Soccer. Denver doesn’t care about anything but the Broncos. This not a great sports town. It’s a great Broncos town, it’s a great football town. I don’t know if they remember they have a basketball team. The Rockies, they don’t care about the Rockies. It’s nothing like it is back home. And the Avs, forget about it. But the Rapids, you don’t ever hear about them at all.

Philadelphia is the fourth largest sports market especially for the four major sports. It’s the fifth largest city in the country. It’s a real sports town. I mean, Denver is really small so they only give a shit about the Broncos. Everything grinds to a halt when the Broncos play. It doesn’t compare at all. Back home is a real sports town. This is a Midwest sports town.

They don’t live and die. They don’t have a passion out here. They don’t boo their own team. (We boo) not because we’re assholes, but because we understand that they’re under-performing and they need to do better.

What are some things to do and places to see you can recommend for fellow Philly fans coming to town this weekend?

I’m bad with the tour guide thing, but I always tell anybody who comes to Denver if you have the time, especially if you have a rental car, cruise down to Red Rocks. Even if there isn’t a show, you have to see that venue. It’s carved into the side of a mountain. It’s pretty freaking unbelievable.

Denver’s cool. Go see the mountains, whatever. It’s a city, there’s stuff to do.

There’s a great Philly bar it’s not in the downtown area, it’s by the college. It’s called Asbury Provisions. The guys that own it are from back home. I have a friendship with them. They learned about Ice Cream Riot when I first opened and they were opening. They’re the place to watch Eagles games in Denver. There used to be a place downtown called Pat’s, surprisingly but it’s not there anymore. Asbury Provisions, makes you think of Asbury Park back home.

I’ll be working all day Saturday. If anybody comes in wearing Union or Sons of Ben stuff I’ll give them a discount.