Barrington Riddick

Marissa Dick | May 22nd, 2018
Barrington Riddick (Photos by Toni Shaw)

Barrington Riddick (Photos by Toni Shaw)

It’s officially spring and summer will soon be around the corner. With both comes weather just perfect for a cup of delicious Philadelphia Water Ice and a fresh “straight out the hot grease” “Around The World” fried fish plate accompanied with an addictive cup of strawberry lemonade. Meet Barrington Riddick, owner and operator of Sweet Cold Treats and Off the Hook Seafood and Chicken.

Home grown in Bertie County, North Carolina, Barrington’s entrepreneurial spirit was put to task by his mother at an early age. He says, “My mother was the reason I started my first business. I asked her for some money one day and instead of her giving it to me, she gave me the best piece of advice of my life. What she told me to do was – save up my allowance, go buy some candy and sell it instead of coming and asking her for money every day. So that’s what I did. I would go to the store and buy some lollipops and Jolly Ranchers and sell them at school and around the neighborhood. I came from an entrepreneur family, so they taught me how to reinvest the money back into my business and I saved the profit. That’s how all of this got started because my mama wouldn’t give me any more money,” he laughs. It suffices that Barrington was reared by Proverbs 22:6 which states, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Barrington is so grateful his parents set his mind and his feet on a positive path.

Another lesson he gleaned from his father and mother, who is a math teacher, was to complete his education. After graduating high school Barrington moved to Greensboro and attended Guilford Technical Community College and majored in Auto Body Repair. After graduation he worked at Crown Paint and Body for a while, but realized that he really enjoyed working for himself. With some patience and dedication, he found himself selling Italian ice from the Philadelphia Water Ice Franchise. This business picked up relatively quickly and Barrington saw he was earning more money selling the ice part-time than working a full-time job. The math didn’t add up for him, so he developed a plan to branch out on his own. He shares, “I worked at Crown Paint and Body for years and I really loved my job, but my side business started growing. I knew I was going to have to let Crown go because I had three ice carts going at the same time that needed my attention. So, in 2006 I finally saved up enough money to get my license and began my own business debt free,” he said with a smile. “I remember the days when I had to drive to Philadelphia, pick up the ice, then turn around and drive back to Greensboro, and still be on time for work. This wasn’t easy. A lot of hard work went into the birth of Sweet Cold Treats.”

Though some say Sweet Cold Treats’ water ice taste better than ice cream, Barrington realized that his sales reduced significantly during the colder months. Being the entrepreneur, Barrington knew that he needed his carts and truck to work for him regardless of the weather. He shares, “I branched out into selling hot food because of the cold weather, it’s harder to sell Italian ice in the winter, so I had to figure out a way to still make my truck work for me. Well, I started going to a lot of beauty shops and barber shops where people congregated during the winter time, you know. The women would be under the hair dryer and you know it’s hot under there and so they would buy a cup of Italian ice to keep their minds cool,” he laughs jovially. “So, they started calling me the Icey Man. I knew that wasn’t going to work for long because they have to come out from under that dryer at some point! So that’s when I started to think about selling hot food. As a result, I rented my uncle’s food truck during the weekdays when he wasn’t using it for his own catering business. Over time using the same model, I saved up enough money to purchase my own food truck, and Off The Hook was born.”

Barrington advises anyone wanting to begin a business to do their research, first. He admits that he started his business completely backwards. He shares, “I kind of started my business backwards, but I knew enough that I had to make my business pay for itself. I had a full-time job and when I got paid I would use my entire check to buy my products, make my money, and then pay my bills. That’s how I operated. I mean looking back on it now that’s not what I should’ve done, but it actually worked for me. I wouldn’t tell anybody to do that though because it’s backwards, but I’ve also learned that you have to do what’s right for you. At the time my responsibility level was different. I’m disciplined and I’m a hardworking man. I’m always trying to be innovative and find ways that work better.” And yes, he certainly found a way to make his mobile truck work for him when he created Off the Hook Seafood and Chicken. This mouthwatering southern fried menu is best known for its delectable signature “Around the World” plate that consists of market fresh fish, shrimp, scallops, and oysters. He also caters to the person who enjoys fried chicken with all the extra trimmings.

Barrington knows that he’s fortunate to have two thriving businesses. When asked if there were plans to establish a brick and mortar location Barrington said, “Well it’s not really in my plans, but whatever God has for me is what I want. I don’t want to say no because I really enjoy going to the different events and meeting different people, but at the same time I don’t want to block my blessings. I just want what God has for me, so I guess the answer to that question remains open. What I do know for certain is that I want to do the right thing with what God has given me now. Everything else will come in due time.” Whether Barrington is catering a special event at church or a family reunion, he is genuine in his belief that these are opportunities to foster relationships and build bridges. He also enjoys being mobile because he can participate with community activities, such as festivals in the park, NC A&T State University Homecoming, Aggie Fest, and their Health Fair, the fundraiser for “Kids on Wheels Foundation”, National Night Out in the Community, the Annual Run for the Red (American Red Cross), The Community Theatre of Greensboro, and the Lexington Barbeque Festival, just to name a few. He also enjoys servicing the different area colleges and high schools when they have their annual carnivals.

Just look for the longest lines. Anyone who has indulged in his delectable delights will volunteer that “It’s worth the wait!” Barrington believes people wait in line because his water ice and food are not only ‘Off the Hook,’ but the customer service is second to none. He is firm in his belief that people don’t have to patronize you no matter how good your food might be. According to Barrington, “People spend their money where they feel appreciated. I’m grateful for my clientele because a lot of them have been faithful and loyal. When I’m at a festival, they come looking for my truck and it’s like seeing old friends. They do that because the food is good, hot, and seasoned with love, and they also know they’re going to be treated right. That’s how I was raised.”

Barrington is grateful for the support of his family because they have taught him a lot about preparing food; they have also been some of his biggest supporters; and they show their support by working right by his side as his establishments continue to grow. He says, “I’m thankful that I have my family as a support team. They know me, and they know how I operate. I’m also grateful to God who is first in my life for making all of this possible. I don’t ever think that this is all about me. I know who really makes this happen.”

Barrington believes in giving back to the community from his home town to Greensboro. He offers job opportunities to those who don’t mind working hard and to those who are dependable. He also mentors youth in becoming entrepreneurs. “I don’t mind giving back to the communities that have blessed me.” Most recently Barrington was featured on ABC News for providing over 500 hot fish dinners to those in need on the East Side of Greensboro after the tornado ravaged that community. According to Barrington, “It was just the right thing to do.”

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