Black-owned ice cream shop promises ‘happy day’ with each scoop

Photo by Gillian Fitzgerald | Staff Writer. Galen Moore Jr. poses inside the ice cream shop, located on a hill above Heinz Field.

Gillian Fitzgerald | Staff Writer


A quick T-ride over to the North Side, Happy Day Dessert Factory sits on a hill above Heinz Field. Just as its name promises, the dessert shop exudes warmth and happiness, even on a rainy Pittsburgh day. Galen Moore Jr. spends each day providing Pittsburgh with sweet treats he and his dad create themselves as a small, Black-owned business.

Running the factory with the help of his father, Galen Moore Sr., it’s 21-year-old Galen Jr. who founded the business and markets to the community around its 906A Western Ave. location. This small business was two years in the making and, today, Galen Jr. operates Happy Day Dessert Factory with his family, which is exactly where his inspiration comes from.

“My dad and my grandma … I see them working so hard, I want to try to recreate the hard work ethic for the rest of the family,” Galen said.

The name “Happy Day” even comes from a song his grandma always sang. The tune would get stuck in Galen’s head, so it was quite fitting that he named the factory after the vibes he tries to put out every day at his business.

21-year-olds rarely know exactly what they want to do, let alone have the guts to start their own business. But Galen has been in the ice cream business his whole life and learned everything he knows from his dad.

Galen Sr. previously owned Rita’s Water Ice in the North Side, but decided to branch out with his son to grow their own business with their own products. Galen Jr. has been on this journey with his dad since he was a kid. He’s seen what it takes to run a business, including learning from the trade shows he would attend with his father at 6 years old.

“He knows everything I know when it comes to this,” Galen Sr. said.

Galen Jr. knew it was perfect timing to open his dessert shop when his dad had equipment leftover from Rita’s. Galen figured that he might as well do it now while he had the resources, including his dad to help him. So, why wait?

The factory was set to open at the beginning of this year — and then the pandemic hit. Galen Jr. had to decide whether or not to push the opening until later in the summer. But despite the pandemic, the Moores held the grand opening on March 18 — and it was one of the best choices they could have made.

The outpouring of community support has been overwhelming. The North Side is happy to finally have a local ice cream spot of their own, and the shop has had so many people coming in to support the small Black-owned business along with the Black Lives Matter movement. With the social justice movement and the pandemic, many people have been more conscious of where they are spending their money.

“The fact that people are responding so well and really, really love it — we’re doing exceptionally well for it being our first year, for it being a pandemic, and for this to be one of the highest times as far as racial tensions,” Galen Sr. said. “The fact that we have not only been able to survive, but actually thrive, is mind boggling.”

Though the pandemic has sometimes made it difficult to get certain ingredients and keep up with equipment problems, Galen Jr. has been proactive and is always thinking about what’s best for the dessert shop. He continuously promotes the six-month-old business through social media and by partnering with local organizations to spread the word about Happy Day Dessert Factory — all while doing good in the community.

Last month, the factory partnered with Central Outreach Wellness Center, a non-profit organization that is a LGBTQ-focused wellness center, and 1Hood Media, an organization that uses art as a way to raise awareness of social issues.

The two organizations supported the Small Business Solidarity program, and together with Happy Day Dessert Factory, they gave away vouchers for free ice cream to those who received a free health screening from the services provided by the wellness center. The three also set up a day and time in September for people to register to vote right at the dessert shop.

Galen Jr. hopes to have more events at the factory once it’s safe and COVID-19 restrictions ease up. He is driven to provide opportunities to the community, such as local artists and musicians, to have platforms to show their art.

“The main focus is getting back to the community and helping out,” Galen Jr. said.

Photo by Gillian Fitzgerald | Staff Writer

The young business owner made sure his shop had a chalkboard wall too, just for customers to write whatever they want — their names, social media handles, or messages like “Say Her Name,” “Black Owned” and “BLM” that continue raising awareness and lifting people up.

Between Galen Jr. and Galen Sr., the business has been set up for success since the very beginning, and they are excited to see what the future holds for them. The two ice cream experts are “a perfect storm,” according to Galen Sr., and their desserts are just as perfect.

Happy Day Dessert Factory is determined to spread happiness, social awareness and motivation to all, including other small businesses — all while providing the North Side with great coffee-heath ice cream and delicious cookie monster cakes.

“If you’re a small business owner, don’t give up on yourself because it does get hard sometimes. But don’t get down,” Galen Jr. said. “You just got to stick through it until the end — you got to believe in yourself, always.”