What do Steven Spielberg, Leonard Nimoy and Glen Matlock of the Sex Pistols have in common?
They’ve all eaten Archie’s Ice Cream.
The business, headed by three brothers who live in Orange County, has become a community favorite in Tustin where the sole store is located.
But long before that shop was opened five years ago, Archie’s earned the admiration of popular celebrities, particularly the musical elite.
The vibrantly-painted walls of the Tustin store, adorned with autographed photos and guitars, is an homage to the early years of Archie’s, when the business was primarily run out of four ice cream trucks.
There’s a photo of Spielberg chomping into a Popsicle and one of Sugar Ray Leonard eating an iced chocolate fudge bar.
Most of the photos in the store were shot in the back of one of the business’s ice cream trucks, the Club Truck, in the Archie’s Lounge, which is a kind of rock ’n’ roll exhibit.
Celebrity after celebrity have snapped photos while splayed out on the lounge’s leopard-print couch. They each leave an autograph on the truck’s walls in their wake.
“It’s like a mini museum on wheels,” co-owner Shant Keuilian, 47, of Orange said about the truck. “It’s an ice cream truck on the outside, and on the inside, a museum. They flip out because they’ve never seen anything like it.”
Archie’s Ice Cream began in 1996 after Keuilian phoned his brother Raffi in the middle of the night with the idea to make an ice cream truck, which he considered a “fun little joke” at first. Raffi lives in Tustin and the other Keuilian brother, Troy, lives in Yorba Linda.
At the time, the brothers were running a towing business, Archie’s Towing, which still operates in Orange. One of that business’ specialties is operating uniquely-painted tow trucks. Keuilian thought it would be interesting to custom paint an ice cream truck and drive around the community of Orange Hills.
Ice cream trucks have a nostalgic appeal for the Keuilian brothers. When they were kids, they would dash to the corner near their home in Huntington Beach when they heard the familiar Mister Softee jingle heralding the arrival of Doyle, the local ice cream man.
Within the year, Archie’s went from serving neighborhoods to doing events, clubs and festivals.
The first famous person to sign one of the business’s four ice cream trucks was NASCAR driver Richard Petty at the California Speedway, where Archie’s served ice cream annually for seven years.
That signature spawned Archie’s rise to celebrity status.
Keuilian said he’s enjoyed meeting each superstar but he was most excited to meet Brian May, the guitarist for Queen, his favorite band.
“I never thought I would meet Brian May through a Popsicle,” Keuilian said.
Five years ago, Keuilian decided he needed a new challenge and opened a shop at 12932 Newport Ave., Tustin.
While the store honors the storied celebrity history of the business, it also caters to young local musicians by providing a venue for them to showcase their work.
Keuilian said fledgling bands generally have trouble getting booked, so Archie’s can be a platform for them. Bands are also allowed to sell their CDs in the shop though Keuilian keeps none of the sales.
“Being around music so much, I got to see what and how it all worked,” Keuilian said. “It didn’t take much just to open the door and welcome them.
“Most of the kids that play tell us they don’t have anywhere to perform. By giving them a chance to play, it’s a big deal to them and makes me happy. If one person comes or nobody, it doesn’t matter, as long as I see and hear a band in here having fun.”
The store’s success has led corporations to inquire about franchising but Keuilian said he isn’t interested. Being able to support the community with his business in his own unique way is vital to him.
“The great thing about this store is it’s not corporate-owned so I can do whatever I want,” Keuilian said.
Prospective plans for the store include a skateboard deck art display with pieces from Tony Hawk and others and an air guitar contest with rock star judges.
As Keuilian says: “We’re your little neighborhood ice cream store that rocks.”