Love story turned local legend


​A scoop of ice cream is served at Crank & Boom, located at the old Pepper Distillery Campus off of Manchester street, on July 15, 2015. Staff file photo.

Alexis Harmon

The butterfly effect is the idea that seemingly small, insignificant events eventually lead to much bigger consequences. The concept also applies to ice cream.

Toa and Mike Green met in 2004 when they both worked at Lexington’s Habitat for Humanity. Toa was the organization’s marketing coordinator, her first real job out of college, and Mike was on its board. Besides talking about potential stories and marketing techniques in passing and in board meetings, the two didn’t really fraternize and were simply coworkers. 

After the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, regarded as one of the most disastrous and deadly catastrophes in modern history, many of India’s communities were wiped clean. In late 2005, 60 Kentuckians were given the opportunity to travel to India to rebuild one of the villages. Toa and Mike both jumped at the opportunity, oblivious to the fact that the other would be joining the journey. 

“I ended up actually quitting and leaving my job and just going to India, waiting to go on the next adventure. And who did I find there? Mike Green,” Toa said. 

India is where the couple got to really know each other and found out they related on levels beyond just work. They built bonds while building new homes for people who had lost everything and learned how the other cared about communities and compassion. 

“That’s where our story started,” Toa said. “We got to know each other, found out that we enjoyed each other’s company and decided, later, to hang out forever.” 

The Greens married in 2008 and began their real adventure together, this time knowing the other was all in. 

With the birth of a new marriage came the birth of a new business. Toa’s family-owned restaurant, Thai Orchid Cafe, had been missing something. They served spicy and salty food, but they just needed some sweetness. 

With only a small homemade ice cream maker, they started serving coconut flavored ice cream as a dessert option, as it conventionally pairs well with Thai flavors. The owners soon noticed that people were coming in to order only the ice cream with no meal to go along with it. 

The demand for ice cream became so big that the Greens started looking into creating a side business solely for their ice cream dreams to come true. 

Named after an inside joke between Toa and her college roommate, Crank & Boom became a reality in 2013. 

Initially, the company was just a couple of vending carts used at events such as weddings, festivals and other kinds of parties with only a few simple flavors to choose from. After gaining lots of traction and popularity throughout their community, the co-owning couple looked into purchasing a permanent location for the company to thrive.

In 2015, Crank & Boom Ice Cream Lounge found a forever home in the Distillery District located on Manchester Street in downtown Lexington. Since then, a second location for the shop has opened up right off of Clays Mill Road. 

Forget plain vanilla and chocolate, rocky road or butter pecan. Crank & Boom offers sweet toothed consumers creative, Kentucky specific flavors on its menu made with fresh, local and homegrown ingredients from all over the state. 

Some of the most popular flavors C&B has to offer are Bourbon and Honey, made with Buffalo Trace Bourbon and Hosey’s Honey from Midway; Kentucky Blackberry and Buttermilk, made with Windstone Farm blackberry jam and buttermilk from JD Country Milk in Russellville; and Martine’s Pistachio Cake, which includes bits of pistachio cake from local bakery Martine’s Pastries. 

Lexington natives turned their out-of state friends and family into such big fans of C&B that the company began shipping pints of their beloved flavors nationwide through a shipping company called Goldbelly. Now anyone in the U.S. can enjoy their favorite C&B flavor! 

Look up reviews and one can see how much of an impact the company has on the community. 

One Yelp reviewer wrote, “I can’t believe I’ve never written a review for Crank and Boom! This place is everything, best ice cream you can find, phenomenal cheerful staff, support to community like no others. I’ve never had a bad experience here nor expect to ever have one with this company.” 

Another reviewer wrote, “Wow! It’s been a while since I’ve been ‘wowed’ by ice cream. What an experience for my taste buds.” 

Along with supplying its community with one of the most delicious desserts, C&B incorporates community service into its everyday functioning. Visitors will sometimes find tables of food and supplies in the C&B stores that they can donate to, which are given to various charities throughout the community. 

There are also weekly limited edition flavors known as Small Batch flavors. These pints cost slightly more than the typical pint, but all the money they generate is used to support local charities. 

In November 2021, the Greens decided to expand on the C&B brand by opening a soft serve shop. Bobi Cones, named after the couple’s children, Bodi and Bindi, is located in Palomar Centre. It features even more unique flavors one won’t find at a typical ice cream store. 

C&B has won multiple local awards, such as being named Small Business of the Year by Commerce Lexington, and has been nationally recognized in publications such as People, Buzzfeed and the Cooking Channel. 

Imagine if Lexington Habitat for Humanity had never opened, if either Mike or Toa had not gone on that community service trip to India, if their Thai restaurant had not been missing its sweet counterpart. 

Lexington would not have one its most integral local businesses.  

It’s crazy how one little love story turned into such a local legendary success.