Tammy Radtke once dreamed of being a stay at home mom. Now, at 58, she wakes most mornings at 4 a.m. to file paperwork and scoop ice cream.

Her signature baby blue “Miss Twist” ice cream truck has been passing through the Locust Point neighborhood in Baltimore for nearly 30 years. The business, which began as a hobby for Radtke when her kids started kindergarten, has grown into two storefronts across Baltimore County. After February, Radtke will be opening up her first brick-and-mortar shop in the city.

She plans on opening the storefront a month or so after she takes over a space Feb. 1 at 1433 E. Fort Ave., which is currently occupied by Southeastern Roastery Coffee Lab. The community has served as a second family to Radtke, who does not live in the area, but says she’s become “like a neighbor” to the customers that chase after her truck.

They often call in the morning to ask her when she will ride through, Radtke said.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

“I have people that have been coming to the truck since they first dated … now they’re having me come to their weddings,” she said. “I think we’ve served three generations in Locust Point.”

Her trucks have been a reliable source of frozen comfort food for residents. As other small businesses have struggled to find their footing through the pandemic, the Miss Twist trucks have remained open — cruising the streets despite lockdowns and a 2020 fire that destroyed one vehicle and prompted Radtke’s kids to start a GoFundMe for the business. At the time of the incident, the truck service accounted for more than half of her income, according to a SouthBaltimore.com report.

The business has sparked a joy in Radtke, who now finds herself having to explain to family why she keeps taking on more. To her, it’s simple: She’s watched parents celebrate their children’s graduations and birthday parties, using the treat to mark the sweetness of each moment.

“It just always makes people happy and I like being a part of that,” she said.

Some customers have bought ice cream from her every day of the week, she said. Radtke would park her truck on a street corner and wait for the familiar face — a strategy that has become less sustainable as the business has grown. She sees the Locust Point storefront as a means of maintaining her beloved customer base while the business further invests in catering special events. She’s unsure whether she will continue to operate the trucks in the area.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

“We’re looking forward to just being more a part of the neighborhood,” she said.

City Councilman Eric Costello, who represents District 11, including the Locust Point neighborhood, called Miss Twist “a staple on the South Baltimore Peninsula,” in a Friday afternoon statement regarding the Radtke’s expansion.

“When neighbors hear the truck coming they spread the word far and wide,” he said. “The communities I represent are thrilled that this beloved small business will be opening a brick and mortar.”

More From The Banner