Behind The Wheel: Jay’s Italian Ice

One of the great advantages of food trucks are that owners are on the truck daily.  This bring a tight bond between the owner and their hungry patrons.  Since many of us only get that small time between ordering and grabbing our food, I wanted to help bring us together.  That’s when I got the idea, Behind The Wheel.  Gets me back to telling the story and further enjoying – being around food trucks. This week I highlight on Jay’s Italian Ice.

It gets hot in the Triangle.  Miles from a sea breeze, we can get develop this humidity claustrophobia.  Thankfully you may see this powder, baby blue cart (I am too smart to describe the color another way in these parts) with the smiling Jay Jones offering a nice cool refreshing dessert.  Jay is as cool as his cart and extremely friendly.  Honestly, I can order from a truck and leave without mentioning who I am.  But Jay quickly recognizes me and introduces himself.  I’m so glad he broke the ice, because this is why I write these articles.  I too can put up those blinders and just focus on the food.  But within minutes talking to Jay, Jay is more than the man behind the wheel.

Jay Italian Ice-2
The Jay behind Jay’s Italian Ice, Jay Jones.

Why did you get into the food truck business?

Before Jay decided to run a Italian Ice cart, he worked in Information Technology (IT).  He’s always wanted to mentor young people.  Long hours behind a computer and little opportunity after work to do so, he came up with the Italian Ice cart: Jay’s Italian Ice.  With this opportunity, he could mentor young people by giving them opportunities and show them hard work pays off.

I can relate with Jay here having a desk job myself.  We can give so much back to our younger generation, but feel constricted by cloth walls surrounding us.  As he told me this, it was heartwarming to feel someone wanting to change their profession to position them to do give back to the community.  But before you cash out your savings on that food truck idea, Jay took on a lot of risk and rallied support from his family to do this.  I found this to be a common theme with food trucks, where not only does the owner gamble on these ideas, but your family as well.

Do you want to open a restaurant?

Jay’s goal is not to open a restaurant, but a gas station.  I had to stop and ask him again, “I’m sorry, a gas station?”  Yes, Jay would like to open a two-story gas station.  The gas station would have a lower level with a convenience store and second level with a studio/classroom for young people to learn Science and Math (key desires we need young people excited in).  He already has a goal and plan to get there, just needs to keep selling from his cart to make his vision tangible.

Jay Italian Ice -Pineapple
A regular is enough for me. The pineapple was on point for a hot, humid day.

What is your favorite flavor?

It has to be the Arnold Palmer: a mixture of Iced Tea and Lemon. The Lemon is a guest favorite, which I got a chance to try.  It wasn’t too tart or sour, very refreshing like a ice, cold lemonade.

What would you like to see on the menu?

Right now the cart can hold 4 flavors and he would like to upgrade to add more and add more features.  Though, he constantly rotates flavors, which I was surprised to hear chocolate (dairy-free!) was one of them.  On this visit, the mystery flavor was the seasonal Peach and like the Lemon, a refreshing summer flavor.

Jay Italian Ice-1
Jay talking to James Huang, a videographer working on an interview project on Jay.

What do you do for the community?

If mentoring young people was not enough, Jay goes beyond just that.  He usually gives part of his profits back to non-profits that he works at.  Knightdale schools, Enloe, and at my most recent visit, Ornamentea’s Pop-Up Sunday (which usually has a featured non-profit) are all places Jay has been a vendor where he’s been able to help.  Since he mostly deals with cash, he can immediately give to these organizations for their financial needs.

What other facts do we need to know?

For a dessert, these are relatively healthy.  Everything is water-based, so they are fat-free, cholesterol-free, dairy-free, and no high fructose corn syrup (pure cane sugar).  A regular Italian Ice (3 scoops) is 45 calories and 24 grams of sugar (compared to a can of soda which can be 140 calories and 42 grams of sugar).

Jay Italian Ice-3

Want to follow them?

Jay usually sets up at 2400 Hillsborough Street, Raleigh across from NC State Campus Monday thru Friday.  For weekend events, check Facebook and Twitter for updates.

Keep Wandering,


Want to be highlighted on Behind The Wheel? Feel free to contact below or direct message me via Twitter

2 thoughts on “Behind The Wheel: Jay’s Italian Ice

  1. This is round 2 of my comment so I hope I can make it as heartfelt as the first one was LoL or at least I thought it was heartfelt!

    Art, first and foremost thank you so much for being such a big supporter of all things local! That is one of the things that I love about living in NC!

    I have to say that I truly appreciate reading these posts and I will be sure to never miss another going forward because this clearly spells out why I LOVE the food truck industry! I love how it becomes like our version of “Cheers” where everyone knows our name.

    I have been an avid food truck follower for the past 2 years now and although my 2 main ones are Greek Gussy’s and Stuft I was blessed to meet Jay a few weeks ago. Because of my following, I drove out to a FTR in a Wake Forest apartment community and although the outcome was terrible (whole other story) I couldn’t get over Jay’s smile and great demeanor even though most food trucks were upset because of the outcome. Now I personally don’t like icecream or anything remotely close to it but Jay convinced me to try and wow I was VERY impressed! Not only was the Italian Ice great but the person serving has so much passion for what he does that it reminded me of why I have been able to stay in the industry that I love for 12 years going strong…passion!

    I spoke with Jay for a few minutes and invited him to a “Back to School” event my company is having this Saturday and he was so excited and eagerly responded by saying he’d be more than happy to join us! Everything you say about Jay is true and I couldn’t feel more blessed to have met him on that day.

    Thank you both for all you do for your patrons and I look forward to reading more of these posts.

    Jay if you’re reading this…see ya Saturday hun!



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