Like many soon-to-be mamas, Holiday Kumar, then working as a press freedom analyst, was experiencing bizarre food cravings (everything from fried chicken and coconut water to salty ice cream) when she was pregnant with her twins Layla and Alexei. On a boys' night out, her husband Mohan, a real estate financier, mentioned those cravings to friend Sam Mason, the original pastry chef at avant-garde restaurant wd~50 and something clicked. A few days later, Mason brought over a pint of pretzel ice cream just for Holiday. After polishing it off in five minutes, she said, “You guys should sell this stuff!” Thus, the seed for OddFellows Ice Cream Co. was planted. (We recently named the store one of the ten best ice cream shops for kids!)
Today, the shop, which Holiday, Mohan and Sam opened in June near the Williamsburg waterfront still bears the markings of an idea inspired by a hormone-induced appetite, offering up delightfully wacky pairings like miso cherry butterscotch, purple rice and grapefruit jalapeño, which the Kumar's 16-month-old twins can’t get enough of: “Layla and Alexei seem to love all the flavors. Their faces light up whenever we put a scoop in front of them,” explains Holiday. (And those names! “Layla comes from poetry, a Persian love story, and Alexei from prose,” she tells us. “Dostoevsky is my favorite author, and Alexei was a favorite character from one of his novels.”)
But nursing a new business and twin toddlers doesn’t leave time for too many days out—so although the crew lives on the Lower East Side, “we’re in Williamsburg all the time. It’s like Williamsburg is our second home,” says Holiday. In our interview, Holiday and Mohan waxed nostalgic about the days before OddFellows, when Saturdays could be spent with strollers parked outside Ten Bells, their go-to neighborhood joint. Click through the slideshow to see more of the Kumar family’s favorite city spots.
“Mohan’s working every hour on the weekends, so I’m single mother-ing it! But I always take them to Tompkins Square Park. It’s close by and there’s a dog run for our schnoodle, Ramses II, and a children’s play area for the twins. Layla and Alexei are too young for anything but the swings now, but they get excited every time we go.”
“Ten Bells (247 Broome St between Ludlow and Orchard Sts, 212-228-4450) has great oysters, ice cold beer and it’s just a great place to relax with the kids. You can just post up right on the bench outside. They like, watched these guys [Alexei and Layla] grow up. We were there at least every Saturday last summer.”
DESSERT SHOP—BESIDES ODDFELLOWS!
“Across the street from Ten Bells is Babycakes. When I was pregnant, I lived on their baked donuts.”
“Our favorite is the Louis Armstrong House Museum. The babies listened to a lot of Louis Armstrong while in the womb. The guides there are jazz music nerds and incredibly passionate and knowledgeable about Louis, which makes for a great tour experience. The first time we went, for Layla and Alexei’s first birthday, we had the guide to ourselves. Throughout the tour, they play audio clips from Louis’ homemade recordings, and because we were the only ones there, we were able to linger around and have our tour guide play Louis over and over again. Hearing his raspy singing voice never ceases to calm our babies—it eventually lulled them to sleep.”
“We’ve been trying to be as green as possible, so we do consignment. There’s one in Williamsburg that we really like, Flying Squirrel, and there’s one really close to us on the Lower East Side called Jane’s Exchange. Consignment is great—it’s more unique, and we’re doing something good for the environment. And the twins go through baby clothes so fast, so you feel a lot better as far as saving costs. We don’t like to spend $40 on an outfit that they can only wear for three months.”
"It’s not easy to prepare home-cooked meals when you're running a business while raising two young kids, but it’s very important to us that we bring our family together with wholesome fresh foods. Bhagavat Life (646-571-0710, bvtlife.com) offers these amazing Ayurvedic cooking class that focuses on healthy, flavorful and vibrant dishes. The Green Protein, which uses freshly-made paneer, greens, lime juice and various Indian spices is a family favorite.”
DREAM DAY OUT
“We’d love to venture out with the babies beyond the Lower East Side/East Village/Williamsburg corridor, like to the Coney Island boardwalk. Maybe one day when we have more time!”