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Gilbert’s Puts Pawleys on the Ice Cream Map

Libby Wiersema Libby Wiersema
Libby Wiersema lived in California and Alabama before settling in South Carolina 30 years ago, where she's covered the state's best culinary offerings and tells the stories behind the food.
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Move over rope hammocks and pimento cheese. Hand-crafted ice cream is joining the lineup of Pawleys Island treats. When the Gilbert family opened their ice cream shop in 2017, locals and tourists flocked to the operation seeking sweet-tooth satisfaction. What they found was so much more: skillfully crafted frozen treats and freshly baked goods served up with warm hospitality.

Each day, six batches of ice cream made with premium ingredients are added to the freezer case at Gilbert’s Ice Cream. Peanut Butter Custard, Coconut Chip, Milk and Cookies—the names are as irresistible as the flavors. The ingredients hint at the creativity going on in the Gilbert kitchen. Go ahead. Try to resist a scoop (or two) of White Chocolate Lemon Raz, a taste bud temptress of lemon-infused black raspberry ice cream studded with bits of white chocolate, or Pecan Pie, a decadent brown sugar-cinnamon ice cream chock full of chunks of pecan pie—homemade pecan pie, that is, baked up by none other than a family friend.

And if you’re torn between more than one flavor, order your ice cream like fine wine. Choose a flight: three flavors nestled in a boat with a homemade waffle cookie. Let the lineup of sauces and toppings further pique your imagination. Hot fudge? Jimmies? Sprinkles? Cookies? Candy? Nuts? Marshmallows? They are all there and then some.

You’ll find the classics on the menu, too, which is sure to please dedicated lovers of vanilla, strawberry, chocolate and other tried-and-true ice cream flavors. Of course, if you’re going to go through all the trouble of making hand-crafted ice cream, you shouldn’t put it in anything other than a freshly made waffle cone, right? Right. The only thing that could possibly make it better would be a dip in the chocolate pot. You can live that yummy fantasy at Gilbert’s, too.

Owners Debbie Gilbert and her daughter, Angela, went all the way to St. Louis to attend Scoop School. They learned their craft techniques from a master, Steve Christensen, executive director of the National Ice Cream Retailers Association. These ladies were obviously “A” students. They practiced—a lot—honing their skills and weaving their own ice cream dreams into exciting, novel flavors. They found the perfect location and Debbie’s husband, Bob, used his construction talents to make renovations. In the spring of 2017, an ice cream parlor was born and put Pawleys Island on the map as the place to go for ice cream. Most recently, Bob created a walk-up window to ensure safe customer service during the pandemic.

There is plenty of seating on the outdoor patio where you can linger and enjoy cones, cups, sundaes, shakes, floats and other goodies. Don’t miss the made-to-order ice cream sandwiches—a scoop of Gilbert’s ice cream sandwiched between two homemade cookies. Pints are available to take home so you can indulge at your leisure. And speaking of leisure, Pawleys Island is famous for laid-back, barefoot, easy-going living. Now that homemade ice cream figures into that equation, get yourself some Gilbert’s, kick off your flip flops and snag a spot on the nearest rope hammock.

Libby Wiersema
Libby Wiersema lived in California and Alabama before settling in South Carolina 30 years ago, where she's covered the state's best culinary offerings and tells the stories behind the food.