When Anthony Sobotik and Chad Palmatier met at a mixer at the Times Square Planet Hollywood in New York, they had no idea they’d go on to make such sweet chemistry. That the partners (in love and business) and cofounders of Lick Honest Ice Creams met 15 years ago was “totally random,” Sobotik recalls. “Chad was there with a friend and the friends I went to meet up with left early so I decided to hang out. Chad came over and introduced himself and after chatting for about 15 minutes, I invited myself along with him and his friend to the bar they were going to next. We had a great time and we had our first date a few days later.”
They were two rural kids — Sobotik (below left) is from Hallettsville in South Central Texas and Palmatier from Lancaster, Pennsylvania — meeting in the big city and everything clicked.
Although the seeds for Lick trace back to Sobotik’s New York catering experience, it would take six years and a move to Austin, Texas, before their dream of an artisanal creamery came to fruition. The company uses fresh, locally-sourced ingredients and makes “everything from the sauces, syrups, cookies, cakes, and marshmallows” by hand.
“When we opened Lick, we always knew that local farmers and artisans would play a huge role in the business,” Sobotik says. “We wanted to support businesses in Texas who are doing things the right way by sticking to sustainable and ethical practices. One example is our dairy producer, Mill King Creamery, a dairy farm near Waco [Texas]. …we love the bonds formed through our small ice cream brand. And because we know who and where our ingredients are coming from, it ensures that we can make a clean ice cream that’s totally nonGMO and free of corn, palm oil, and soy which makes us and our customers feel really good.”
Over the years, Lick has “put over $1.7 million back into the hands of those local food producers,” Sobotik adds. Committed to sustainability (Lick uses compostable cups, spoons, and napkins), the couple says they also believe they have a responsibility to give back to the communities that support their business, so they regularly fundraise for, volunteer at, and donate to local nonprofits. Campaign. Lick’s annual Cones For A Cause campaign has raised over $50,000 so far.
The founders say the Lone State also inspired many of their flavors: Cilantro Lime, Dewberry Corn Cobbler, and Sweet Persimmon and Sage. Sobotik describes Cilantro Lime as tasting “like Texas in the summer,” saying, “When I think of summertime in Texas, I think about seeking refuge from the heat in the shade with something cool, refreshing and not fussy. For me, that would be a cilantro margarita so that served as the inspiration for the ice cream.”
The company’s first ice cream, Cilantro Lime (above), is still Sobotik’s favorite. “It combines two flavors that I love so much with cream and sugar and it just takes it to another level for me.”
Sobotik also sees Lick as a reflection of the vibrant culture in Austin, saying that the city “encourages individuality and authenticity in its citizens [and] we create ice creams that celebrate the quality, uniqueness and flavors of the ingredients we get to work with.” But, he adds, with flavors, “We don’t overthink it! When you’re building flavors with what’s in season and produced locally, you let your ingredients guide the way. Each season, we add flavors that are indicative of what’s available in Texas.”
Palmatier’s prefered flavors change with the seasons as what’s fresh dictates some ingredients come and go (although he admits a weakness to the year-round Texas Sheet Cake. This year, Lick seasonal favorites Orange Chocolate and Sweet Cream and Strawberry were joined by new inventions Strawberry Jalapeno, Peach Leaf Swirl, Blueberry Crumble and Dewberry Corn Cobbler.
Another seasonal favorite is Lick’s Pride sundae crafted with three “fruity flavors” and topped with whipped cream, mixed berry sauce, and rainbow sprinkles.
A blue city in a red state Austin is a magnet for LGBTQ+ travelers going to Texas. “I think the best thing about visiting Austin is that the entire city really welcomes you with open arms,” Sobotik says. “It’s that open-minded attitude combined with classic Texas hospitality that makes Austin what it is and what made me fall in love with it more than 20 years ago.”
If you aren’t ready to hit the road for a Texas-sized vacation, Lick ice creams are available to be shipped nationally through Goldbelly.
(Below: Dewberry Corn Cobbler)