By Robert Boyd WFTS Tampa Bay
November 11, 2021
TAMPA, Fla. — It looks and sounds like an ordinary ice cream truck, but the new owners of Frios Gourmet Pops said they have a secret ingredient, and that’s family.
“I was surprised when they told me they were getting an ice cream truck, I was like, ‘where did this come from,’” said 14-year-old Jolesa Birkhead.
Before her parents, Joe and Lisa Birkhead, were driving the tye-dyed van, they were operating camouflage tanks, climbing to the highest ranks of the U.S. Army.
“We both fell in love with the Army and then we met and fell in love with each other,” said Joe Birkhead.
Being active duty and trying to raise two kids certainly had its challenges.
“I deployed 11 times, that's a lot, my daughter thought my name was Afghanistan,” said Joe.
So when they retired, they wanted to pursue something that was inclusive for their son, 7-year-old Joe, and Joelisa.
“Oh they love it, they help a lot, they actually work in the van, they hand out the pops, we’re teaching them the whole aspect of running a business,” said Lisa Birkhead.
“No more missing birthdays, missing holidays, no more putting the Army first, now it's family first,” said Joe Birkhead.
“I get to spend time with my family and make people happy,” said 7-year-old Joe.
The Birkheads only set up shop at locations that are also family-friendly, like the YMCA.
“So all the people that come to my van have families, they have kids, so it's awesome to interact with them,” said Lisa Birkhead. “You should see when people bite into them it’s dessert on a stick.”
“Even like banana pudding has the real vanilla wafers in it so it's all-natural,” said Joe Birkhead.
The Birkheads hope to be an inspiration to other veterans out there that life after the military can be pretty sweet if you share it with those you love.
“Veterans need to know that your life doesn’t stop after the army, and you can keep going on and doing great things for your community,” said Lisa Birkhead.