Meet your neighbor...Ice cream truck owner Alene Sabados
FAIRFIELD — When Alene Sabados was a kid growing up in Fairfield her dad, Frank Targowski, a police sergeant in town, would drive her around in a police car. Now, Sabados drives her own three kids around town in a unique car of her own: an ice-cream truck.
“If he was picking me up someplace he’d put the siren on and I was so embarrassed. I think that’s what taught me to be like whatever, this is life. You can never be embarrassed of your parents because they all do something, so just be who you are and stand with it,” Sabados said.
Sabados, 47, bought her pink ice-cream truck in 2015 from a man who was retiring from the business and started her own company, Alene’s Ice Cream.
“It was totally by accident,” Sabados said of how she came to start her business. The man whose truck she bought used to ride around her neighborhood right as her three children were going to sleep. When her kids heard the ice-cream truck, Sabados said they weren’t tired anymore and wanted to go outside. So one day, frustrated, Sabados walked outside to the ice-cream man and gave him a piece of her mind.
“If you ever sell this thing, call me. I’m going to turn it around and go to the young kids' houses early and the older kids houses later so that you’re not interrupting any dinner,” Sabados said. Three months later the truck-owner said he was retiring and asked Alene if she wanted to buy it, so she did.
“I wanted to put my own spin on it and only go where I’m wanted. Doesn’t everybody want to be wanted?” Sabados said. Fortunately for Sabados, her strong ties in the community ensured her business had a large market of residents who knew her and wanted her ice-cream right from the start.
When Sabados first put a clean coat of pink-paint on her truck and opened for business, a friend posted a picture of the truck on Facebook and before she knew it, Sabados was getting calls from people who wanted her to visit their homes. Three years later, Sabados said she understands people's dinner and bedtime schedules in town and knows when it’s appropriate to stop by different neighborhoods. She also spends a lot of time with her truck at sports fields and especially the baseball games of her sons — Frank, 12 and Sam, 9, and the softball games of her daughter, Burke, 7, all of whose teams her business sponsors.
“This is a good way for me to stay true to my roots of being born and raised here and being active in my kid's lives,” Sabados said.
Sabados, who was Parent Teacher Association President of her children's school, North Stratfield Elementary School, last year, has established steady work at end of the school year events and also brings her truck to birthday parties, corporate events, family reunions, engagement parties, bridal and baby showers, and festivals. From the end of April through summer, Sabados said she’s booked almost every day of every weekend and dreams of getting a second truck to park somewhere permanently while she takes the other to events.
Although Sabados grew up in town, she didn’t always think she’d end up in Fairfield and imagined herself living somewhere warmer. Throughout high school and college, Sabados worked at Fairfield’s Dairy Queen, but newly minted with her degree in travel and conference planning, she planned to leave town for a job in her field. Sabados’ boss at Dairy Queen said he needed her there, however, and promised to match her salary, pay her insurance, and giver her winters off if she ran the shop. “What was better than that?” Sabados said.
For 17 years, Sabados managed Dairy Queen and lived half-year in Florida, where she bought a place until she married a man she met in Fairfield who convinced her to stay in town permanently to raise their kids. Despite the relative lack of sunshine in Conn. compared to Florida, Sabados said she enjoys her work because of the joy it brings people, young and old.
“Ice cream’s a happy thing. Everybody likes ice-cream, especially on a hot day. If you don’t feel like cooking dinner, you can have ice-cream for dinner,” Sabados said. Throughout the summer, Sabados said kids often call her to come and bring them ice-cream. “They write me notes, they draw me pictures, which is wonderful. You have to like what you do, and I do,” Sabados said.
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