A longtime family-owned Huntington Beach ice supplier is back in business with a new couple at the helm.
Yvette Pape said she and her husband, Ryan, invested “every penny” they had, as well as their “blood, sweat and tears,” to breathe life back into Brewster’s Ice at 613 6th St. Brewster’s sells block and dry ice in bulk at a lower rate than grocery stores and offers 24-hour delivery.
The Bellflower couple reopened the small ice shack in July after spending months refurbishing the building and adding a cement dock. They plan to celebrate Feb. 27 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony sponsored by the Huntington Beach Chamber of Commerce.
“It’s really a dream come true,” Ryan Pape said.
The ice shack has the kind of history that time cannot melt. In 1945 Virgil Brewster purchased a meat locker from the government, moved it onto Sixth Street and converted it into an ice house.
It instantly became a necessary neighborhood staple, as household refrigerators were uncommon at the time, and residents relied on ice deliveries.
“[Virgil] would drive around downtown and deliver blocks of ice to houses and businesses,” Mike Costello said. “People hung hexagon-shaped signs in the front window with 25, 50, 100, 150 and on. Whatever was at the top was the amount of ice you’d deliver.”
Residents would drop by to purchase blocks of dry ice to keep food fresh for camping trips or 40 to 50 pound bags for big parties, Costello said.
Virgil’s daughter, Ellen Costello, and her husband, Mike, took over the business in 1986. They retired in 2016 and now lease the building to the Papes.
Much like the Brewsters, Ryan Pape comes from a family of icemen. His grandfather and father are also in the ice supply business.
While delivering blocks in Huntington Beach with his dad, Pape said he saw an opportunity when Brewster’s became available for lease.
“I’ve always thought it was cool and different,” Yvette said of the ice industry.
The Papes merged Brewster’s with their first company, Snow Guyz, which creates “winter wonderlands” by blowing snow at seasonal events at churches and other locations.
Business has remained steady since opening, Yvette said, adding she’s thrilled local businesses were immediately willing to work with them.
“We’ve had the whole city behind us for the seven months we were fixing up the place,” she said. “It’s been kind of cool.”
Now the Papes are looking for a home in the area, hoping to fully integrate their lives into a community that warmly embraced their cold business.