There’s a bumper sticker on the Outer Banks that reads: As Local As It Gets.
That certainly applies to Paul and Maria Rosell, co-owners of Happy Belly Ice Cream, and Hatteras Parasail in Hatteras Village.
He moved to the island in 1973. She moved to the island in 1985.
The couple bought the ice cream shop on July 1, 2014, three days before Hurricane Arthur made landfall on the southern end of North Carolina’s barrier islands, battering the shore with sustained winds of up to 100 mph — but they survived.
“Hatteras is a very close knit, strong and independent community. We have to be: We never know when we will be cut off from the world by a nor’easter, hurricane or power outage. When the going gets tough, we get tougher.”
The shop serves ice cream, milkshakes, fruit smoothies, chocolates and a large assortment of candies.
“Our ice cream flavors vary, but we always carry the staples: chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, mint chocolate chip, cookies ‘n’ cream, chocolate chip cookie dough, moose tracks, and coffee. We also rotate banana pudding, birthday cake, black cherry, butter pecan, campfire ‘smores, cotton candy, rainbow vanilla, strawberry cheesecake, rainbow sherbet, nutty coconut, peaches ‘n’ cream, peanut butter cup, praline pecan, rocky road & salty caramel pretzel,” she says. “During the summer months, we carry mango and/or wild berry sorbet and a no-sugar-added toasted almond.”
Rosell says the idea of opening an ice cream parlor appealed to her for a simple reason: She loves ice cream, and she wants to spread the love, especially with kids.
“I, myself, am a big fan of candy. Suddenly, the opportunity to purchase an ice cream shop appeared. What could be better than owning an ice cream and candy shop named Happy Belly?” the mother of six says.
“It has also opened up the opportunity to employ our local youth for summer jobs, and it enables us to continue to pursue relationships with teens.”
She’s tried all the flavors, “and I always seem to come back to nutty coconut as my favorite. To my surprise, the biggest seller is mint chocolate chip. It is a favorite of all ages.”
She and her husband are the owners, but she’s quick to add that it’s a family business, “and everyone contributes in one way or the other. Our daughter, Tori, is the manager and runs the shop, and our youngest, Haley, scoops ice cream during the summers.
“We try to keep a saltwater aquarium filled with some local marine life that Haley maintains,” she says.
“Haley is quick to offer interesting information and facts about the contents of the aquarium and has made and printed an information guide for our customers.”
She says her own family is a tight-knit group, and she considers her fellow Hatteras residents to be family, too. That sentiment extends to visitors who come to play and experience the island life.
“We work together, take care of our own and welcome the many tourists who visit our island during the summers.
We work hard when there is work to be done, and we play hard when we have time to relax,” she says.
“It is not always an easy convenient life, but we love our beautiful island and pay whatever price it costs to live in paradise.”