Henry Gentry Jr. is dippy. He even went to school to be that way. The owner and flavor mastermind behind Henry’s Homemade Ice Cream in Plano is even highly trained and award winning at being dippy. Henry has turned the creation of ice cream into a science, and you can get a dip of science in his store, located at Parker and Independence.
Henry’s been making ice cream for a long time. Growing up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, he went to ice cream school at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Soon after, he started his first ice cream store with help from his dad, Henry Gentry Sr., and sold his dips for nine years before deciding he’d had enough of the cold Philly weather. He wanted to be somewhere warmer and family friendly, someplace that embraced small business. After traveling a bit, attending a few conferences here and there, the one place that felt right was here in Plano, Texas.
Henry’s Plano store opened in 1992 and is much the same now as it was when he first opened. All of the ice cream is made right in Henry’s store, and he is extremely proud of the way in which he makes his divine dessert. He’s not shy to let you know it’s made with Oak Farms dairy products and contains 16% butterfat. All that heavy cream makes for the richest, smoothest, most wonderful tasting ice cream you’ve ever had. He boasts that all of his ice cream is also made with double the ingredients. In his store, if you come in for cookie dough ice cream, it will be bursting with almost more cookie dough than you can handle.
Recognizing Henry’s creativity, chefs in some pretty big restaurants call him when they want to make something special to accompany their menus. He was the first in the DFW area to offer Southwestern Cinnamon, which quickly became a hit with local Mexican restaurants. He currently has a list of approximately 700 wholesale customers, including local eateries Taverna Rossa, Covino’s, Samui Thai and Hirsch’s, to name just a few. He ships his ice cream as far as Abilene, Shreveport, Oklahoma City and San Antonio.
Henry gathers inspiration for his flavors everywhere, and gets some of his best ideas from customers and employees. He is always developing new and exciting combinations, such as Ancho Chocolate or Pumpkin Cashew. Customers look forward to his seasonal flavors year after year: Peppermint Stick and Rum Raisin at Christmas, Boo Berry at Halloween, Pumpkin Pie at Thanksgiving and some seriously fun flavors at Valentine’s, such as Barry White Chocolate, Can’t Elope, Honey ‘Do and Italian Kiss.
By far, the nicest thing Henry does in flavor making is buying Girl Scout cookies from the little salesladies who come to his store. As long as they go through their sales pitch on their own, Henry will purchase cookies from them for his Girl Scout Cookie-themed flavors.
Buying Girl Scout cookies just barely touches on the myriad ways Henry gives back to our community here in Plano. He says he cannot possibly choose just one charity or group to support, so he decided long ago that he would support them all, since Plano has been so kind in supporting him. This man loves giving the gift of happiness.
One particular event he is most proud of is the annual Henry’s Homemade Ice Cream Pajama Party. This event, occurring in June, supports Cancer Awareness in Plano and is run by volunteers. Anyone that has ever wanted to scoop ice cream is invited to help behind the counter. The reason will astound you — everyone who comes receives a free quart of ice cream! The line is often out the door and down the shopping center sidewalk, and Henry’s volunteers make quick work of helping each pajama-clad patron. There are contests for best pajamas, coolest slippers and other fun categories.
Henry proclaims, “ice cream making is a dying art.” He’s doing his part to teach others what he’s learned over the years. He runs his own Ice Cream School where ice cream entrepreneurs can spend 2 days with Henry doing intense training on everything from machines and ingredients to the business side of making the beloved treat.
He definitely knows what he is doing as his ice cream is multi-award winning. His Homemade Vanilla, Strawberry and Chocolate flavors have all placed in the National Ice Cream Retailers Association awards for the past several years, and his flavor “Senator Shapiro’s Texas Praline” won 1st place in the Official Ice Cream of Texas competition in 2005.
It’s evident if you catch Henry in his shop that he loves his job, and he loves interacting with his customers even more. He’s seen kids grow up and bring their own kids in. He gets told by customers several times a year that, “my child doesn’t like ice cream but will eat yours.” He’s big into keeping up with his fans through social media, posting often on Facebook.
Henry’s philosophy is simple: make the best product with the best flavor, and that makes customers happy. Henry’s motto is “Ice Cream Makes You Pretty!” His dips of ice cream definitely make people smile, and that, folks, makes everyone pretty. Don’t you want to be pretty too?Henry's Ice Cream Website >