Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Tampa siblings from noted family grow multimillion-dollar ice cream business

Max Chillura and his siblings run one of the best treat chains in Tampa Bay. Ice cream keeps them together.

  • By
  • | 5:00 a.m. April 9, 2024
  • | 2 Free Articles Remaining!
Max Chillura and his three siblings own and run Chill Bros. Scoop Shop. Max focuses on the ice cream.
Max Chillura and his three siblings own and run Chill Bros. Scoop Shop. Max focuses on the ice cream.
Photo by Mark Wemple
  • Tampa Bay-Lakeland
  • Share


Chill Bros. Scoop Shop. The ice cream store is locally famous, with deep roots in Tampa and plans to expand into Pinellas County. 

"I never thought ice cream would be the ultimate route," says Max Chillura, 29, the chief stakeholder and a University of Florida business graduate. "I worked a real estate job. I just could not stomach it."

So after a date where the choice of an ice cream shop was a question, he made the decisionHe laid down his vision to his family in 2019. His parents told him if he did it, to be the best at it — ice cream.

Max's parents, and his grandparents, know of what they speak, at least when it comes to setting a high bar: Max's dad is Joseph Chillura, a Florida executive at New Jersey-based Valley Bank. In 2007, Chillura co-founded Clearwater-based USAmeriBank, which grew into one of the largest community banks in Florida before Valley acquired it in 2018. Max's grandfather, meanwhile, was Joe Chillura Jr., a former Hillsborough County commissioner who pushed through a local sales tax that helped build the Raymond James Stadium and also funds, to this day, other public projects. Joe Chillura Jr., now a Tampa policy legend with a park named after him, died Feb. 3 at 84.

With strong family business instincts, Max Chillura even travelled to central Italy to study gelato. Later in 2019, Max Chillura became chief manager of the first shop in Ybor City, inspired both by his Italian family's love of food and his Ohio mother's love of ice cream, which got the siblings excited whenever they would visit her home state in the Midwest.

Max Chillura then gathered his siblings to help, as they had discussed such a business — as kids.

The Chillura family in 2021. The grandchildren are involved in a first-generation business: ice cream.
Image courtesy of Marissa Moss

The cool strategy of Max and the three siblings paid off. The company has five stores and its Armature Works store alone may help take revenues from $2 million in 2023 to $3 million in 2024, Max Chillura says.

Other locations are Ybor City, the Chillura family's ancestral first home area when they came from Italy; South Tampa; Water Street; and South Howard at the Epicurean. The latter is also near the company's commissary, where the ice cream and pastries are made by the executive chef and others.

Working together

Working as one tends to be no problem, according to Max Chillura.

Each sibling is a "pillar" of the company, he says, and their roles are individually important. But the siblings are different, he says, and they do things differently. 

Max is the majority stakeholder, day-to-day executive and ice cream manager.

Sister Hadley Chillura, 26, handles graphic design, branding and marketing. The website is distinct for a small business, with noticeable colors that might remind you of the defunct Howard Johnson's chain. The local stores also have social media.

Brother Patton, 30, is a private equity whiz who helps with site selection and finance.

And brother Nash, 22, helped make the ice cream when he was sent home from Colorado University during the early days of the pandemic when the business — when all retail businesses — were on shaky ground.

Max Chillura is the lone full-time family worker and he values the work of his siblings to build the brand, which tends to be as strong as his commitment. And his commitment is strong. It has to be. "Their livelihood doesn't depend on it as much as mine does," says Max. 

There is seldom any major disagreement among the siblings, he says, and when there are, things tend to work out — with a pretty good reason why. "It's got all of our names on it," he says.

And it has family intuition.

For sister Hadley, the business plans are often understood quickly even if vague, as the siblings understand each other, and can intuit meanings better than normal.

"Working with my older brother is second nature to me," says Hadley in a text message. "We all grew up as a team, always creating and collaborating. The benefit of working with your sibling is you have this sort of deep understanding that is hard to explain. He can say a vague idea and I know exactly how to put it on paper and create something that speaks to both of us."

And does the Ohio-born mother, Patsy Chillura, approve of the ice cream?

"She loves it," Max says. 

(It's a first-generation business, but Patsy helps paint the stores.)


The family has plenty of mental and physical energy but that's free. What isn't free is electricity.

Max Chillura gained his work ethic from his Tampa family but gained his idea for an ice cream chain from his siblings. They started the Chill Bros. Scoop Shop in 2019.
Photo by Mark Wemple

Ice cream requires freezing, and pastries and other offerings require refrigeration, so power is a big expense — the "bane" of the industry, Max says.

Family territory within the business is not really a challenge. While the siblings advise each other, they respect boundaries.

"They typically stay out of the production part," says Max. "I stay out of marketing ... They trust me. It has a lot to do with how we were raised."

He notes sister Hadley Chillura as an example and points to her her designs. He doesn't quibble with her artwork, which impresses him.

Profit is another small challenge. Margins can be strong and wide in ice cream but Chill Bros. Scoop Shops "goes the extra mile" for taste and quality, Max says. That means more pricey egg yolks and fat to add to the unique taste. Even so, the stores remain profitable. 

With that profitability in mind, why not expand? The Hillsborough County chain is eyeing St. Petersburg and possibly a western beach location, Max says.


Latest News


Special Offer: Only $1 Per Week For 1 Year!

Your free article limit has been reached this month.
Subscribe now for unlimited digital access to our award-winning business news.
Join thousands of executives who rely on us for insights spanning Tampa Bay to Naples.