Our Story


Brown’s Since 1963

Founded in 1963 by Wade Nelson, Brown’s Ice Cream is a third-generation, locally-owned family business. It has evolved into the premier full-service DSD (Direct Store Delivery) frozen food distributor headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Local Family Business

When Wade retired in 1987, his two sons, Bob and Tim Nelson, assumed ownership of Brown’s Ice Cream. Bob retired in January of 2021, and Tim Nelson now manages Brown’s Ice Cream with the assistance of his son, Patrick Nelson, and Bob’s son, Matt Nelson. Patrick and Matt Nelson are carrying on the family legacy as third-generation owners.

Brown’s Ice Cream holds a prominent position in Minnesota as an industry leader, specializing in Direct Store Delivery (DSD) of ice cream and pizza distribution. We are the main distributor of both national and regional brands, while also focusing on our own pizza brand 7th Avenue Pizza and countless other brands.

Brown’s is consistently acknowledged for our exceptional service to retail customers, a true pillar of our success.

Where We See Things Heading

We firmly believe that our strong relationships with both retail and vendor partners position us exceptionally well for the foreseeable future. We consider Direct Store Delivery (DSD) service to be a crucial aspect of our future success, particularly in light of the limited availability of employment at most retail outlets. By alleviating the burden of handling deliveries at the store level, our dedicated employees will seamlessly take on that responsibility for you.

In addition to this, our ongoing expansion and distribution efforts for 7th Avenue Pizza are anticipated to contribute significantly to securing the future of the 4th generation of Nelson’s who will continue to lead Brown’s Ice Cream.


7th Avenue Pizza

The story of 7th Avenue Pizza is deeply intertwined with the rich history of Brown’s Ice Cream. Our grandfather, Wade Nelson, began his journey by packing ice cream on 7th Street in St. Paul in the early 1950s, eventually acquiring Brown’s Ice Cream on East Lake Street in 1963.

In 2011, facing a decline in ice cream sales during winter months, Patrick Nelson, recognizing the need for diversification, decided to introduce a new product line to the Brown’s Ice Cream trucks. Thus, 7th Avenue Pizza was born as a tribute to our grandfather, Wade Nelson.

From its inception, 7th Avenue Pizza faced significant challenges, such as securing shelf space at stores and adapting to changing consumer behaviors. However, our key learnings emphasized the importance of patience, maintaining full shelves, and ensuring the freshness of our product. One pivotal moment occurred when Paul “Meatsauce” Lambert randomly snapped a photo holding up a 7th Avenue Pizza at Lunds and Byerly’s, proclaiming, “This pizza Wails,” and shared it on Twitter. This unexpected endorsement became a game-changer for the brand.

Seizing the opportunity, we reached out to Paul, introduced ourselves, and delivered pizzas to the Power Trip. Within a week, we proudly became the “Official Frozen Pizza of the Power Trip Morning Show” on KFAN radio, marking a significant milestone for 7th Avenue Pizza.

For information on where to find 7th Avenue Pizza, please visit our website at www.7thavenuepizza.com.

Over the Years

Art’s Store Opens in Stillwater, MN
Brown's Ice Cream Over the Years

Art Nelson buys Seven Corners located in Stillwater from John Lustig and changes name to “Arts”


Nelson’s Dairy Store Opens in Stillwater, MN

Brown's Ice Cream Over the Years
Wade Nelson purchases Brown’s Ice Cream from his Uncle Art and added the large ice cream cones and changes the name to Nelson’s Dairy Store

Nelson’s Dairy Store Sells

Brown's Ice Cream Over the Years
Upon retirment, Wade Nelson sells Nelson’s Dairy Store AKA Nelson’s Ice Cream

Brown’s Ice Cream Founded

Brown's Ice Cream Over the Years
Wade Nelson who made ice cream from Dairy Home located on 7th Street in St. Paul purchases Brown’s Ice Cream in Minneapolis

2nd Generation Family Business

Brown's Ice Cream Over the Years
Wade Nelson retires and sells Brown’s Ice Cream to his sons Bob and Tim Nelson

7th Avenue Pizza is Born

Brown's Ice Cream Over the Years

Patrick Nelson, son of Tim Nelson , creates the 7th Avenue Pizza brand and distributes via Brown’s Ice Cream