justin cline.JPG
Photo by Leslie Kelly
Justin Cline is White Center's Good Humor Man.
Since opening Full Tilt ice cream in White Center two years ago, Justin


Justin Cline is White Center's Good Humor Man

justin cline.JPG
Photo by Leslie Kelly
Justin Cline is White Center's Good Humor Man.
Since opening Full Tilt ice cream in White Center two years ago, Justin Cline has been on fire. He's now got two more stores and two more in the works. He's looking to expand into wholesale, too. But you can still find him most days, scooping up exotic flavors like ube (Japanese yam), Mexican chocolate and Birthday Cake at this "community center" on White Center's main drag.

SW: Walk us through a Full Tilt time line.

Cline: We started thinking about it probably four or five months before we opened because the UW Urban Planning Department had done a study for White Center, asking people what they wanted in their neighborhood and at the top of the list was movie theater, a bookstore and an ice cream store and I thought how hard can be to do ice cream? Jack at the Husky Deli gave me a rundown on what I'd need.

SW: Do you still use Snoqualmie as your base?

Cline: Yes, because I can't afford a pasteurizer. Technically everybody who makes ice cream is supposed to, once you mix milk and cream, you're supposed to pasteurize it again. Some don't.

SW: Really? Do you want to name some names?

Cline: Not really.

SW: So, we really owe Seattle's ice cream renaissance to Snoqualmie?

Cline: They're so great to work with. Barry, who owns Snoqualmie, his big idol is Michael Pollan. He's really into all that. Everything is local. We're going to tour the dairy where the milk comes from in a couple of weeks.

SW: Did you ever work in a kitchen before?

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Photo by Leslie Kelly
Cline: Oh, yeah. All through college in Southern California, I worked in restaurants. I was a line cook at Spago. Then when I moved up here I worked at a little place call Baker's Beach. I helped open Salumi, I mean I was one of the first employees. Then I made cheese for a lot of restaurants, fresh mozzarella.

SW: Did you go to cooking school?

Cline: I briefly went to the CIA in California. I thought it would be better to go get an academic education, but if I had it to do over again, I would have stayed in cooking school.

SW: You grew up in Southern California, what brought you to Seattle?

Cline: When I was 21, I did a fishing thing in Alaska. I did salmon fishing on a seiner and later worked on a troller. I was on my way back to California on a bus and met a girl and followed her back up here.

SW: Are you still with her?

Cline: No.

SW: Where do you come up for the ideas for flavors?

Cline: A lot of it is what I find in the market. Then, some of the flavors like the mango chili and the ube are influenced by growing up in Southern California. A lot of it is about trying to reflect neighborhood we're in here. There's a huge Pacific Islander community and a big Hispanic and Vietnamese population.

SW: What are the best sellers?

Cline: The top would be definitely salted caramel, then ube, Mexican chocolate, horchata and probably birthday cake, which is vanilla ice cream with sprinkles folded in and lemon cake.

Check back tomorrow for part two of our Grillaxin' Q&A with Justin Cline to find out which weird flavors didn't cut it.

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