Unbeknownst to her at the time, the empty space where Michelle Noel had her heart set on opening Wicked Awesome Ice Cream Emporium had plans to be an ice cream shop already. Early on in her scouting, Noel learned that the previous owner of the brand-new commercial space on Lakewood Ranch Boulevard was a young man who sadly lost his life last year to COVID-19. “Once I knew the circumstances of the space, I thought it was definitely the universe lining up for me,” she says. “I love ice cream, but to hear of the previous owner just made it all the more meaningful to carry it through.” Through serendipitous timing, and a sense to carry on the concept that brings just about everybody joy, Noel opened the doors to Wicked Awesome early this year. And though Noel didn’t know the man who shared the same dream as her, she says, “It means a lot to me that this all still came together after hearing of his passing.”

Photography by Wyatt Kostygan


After being downsized last June from her director of national accounts sales position due to the pandemic, the former New Englander had to reevaluate what she truly wanted to do—the legacy she wanted to leave behind. She took all of her savings, her 30-plus years of experience in selling a variety of consumer products manufacturers to major U.S. retailers, and took a hard left turn on her career path. “It wasn’t as much a choice as it was a turning point in my life and career,” Noel says. “It seemed time to put all I learned in my career into something that was mine.” Lakewood Ranch ice cream lovers can now look forward to the small-batch scoops of New England-style hard ice cream—including flavors honoring her roots, like Boston Tea Party, Vermont Maple Walnut, New Hampshire Wicked “Scorcha,” Maine Moose Tracks, Connecticut Mocha Chip and Rocky Rhode Island. The dense, chewy, hard-serve goodness in every bite is an earnest reminder of how sweet and short the happiest things in life can be—especially in a cone. “I felt called to this location,” Noel says, “and know it will bring a lot of joy and fun with so much family growth and activity happening in this area.” SRQ

Wicked Awesome Ice Cream Emporium, 4122 Lakewood Ranch Blvd., Lakewood Ranch, 941-345-4755, wickedawesomeicecream.com, @waice4122