At Home (and Work) with Van Leeuwen’s Laura O’Neill


Originally from Australia, Laura O’Neill is one third of early food-truck phenomenon Van Leeuwen Ice Cream, which she founded in the spring of 2008 with Ben Van Leeuwen and his brother Pete—nearly five years later they have a fleet of six trucks and three brick-and-mortar outlets around Brooklyn and Manhattan. On top of that burgeoning artisanal empire, O’Neill has recently opened Indonesian restaurant Selamat Pagi in Greenpoint, to rave reviews. O’Neill was kind enough to let us snoop around and take some pics of the restaurant, and her nearby apartment…

How did you end up in Brooklyn?
I met Ben Van Leeuwen in London and he twisted my arm. It’s been five and a half years…

What’s your favorite thing about your home?
I love having a backyard, it lessons my pangs for Australia.

Your least favorite thing?
Not having a bathroom window.

What are the three things you’d save first in a fire? (inanimate)
A lace tablecloth that was my Nanna’s, my love letters, and my painting of Bali.

What’s your favorite room in your space?
My bedroom. I love being able to look out at the pine trees from bed.

Favorite time of day at home?
Early afternoon.

If you suddenly received a windfall of cash, what changes would you make to your space?
Well, it’s a rental so I wouldn’t put too much cash in to it, but I’d make some kitchen and bathroom improvements for sure.

If you could move your house/block/neighborhood to another city, which one would it be, and why?
Melbourne, that’s home, but I am in LOVE with Greenpoint.

What’s it like living so close to your place of work?
I love it, I have a 27-second bike commute through a beautiful park each morning. I can also visit my pussy cat Gypsy at lunchtime.

What’s the biggest difference between operating a food truck business and a brick-and-mortar restaurant?
The differences are huge, both have their pros and cons but It’s really nice to become a part of a neighborhood and the stores/restaurant will never get a flat tire.

What does Selamat Pagi mean?
Good Morning in Indonesian

What’s your favorite dish at Selamat Pagi? (and you have to pick)
The Bali Egg Scramble: Turmeric Eggs, Spicy Sambal, Housemade Roti, Papaya with lime. I’m hooked.

Around Brooklyn

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