A local man and volunteer Chinese interpreter for the U.S. Coast Guard has created a successful ice cream and coffee shop in Miramar Beach.

MIRAMAR BEACH — A local business with footprints in three counties plans to continue serving niche ice cream across the Gulf Coast.

After opening in Miramar Beach in 2017, Frozen Dune Rolled Ice Cream & Coffee has expanded to Panama City Beach and Crestview.

The Crestview shop goes by the name Polar Bear Ice Cream.

According to Alex Ou — who created the brand and said he owns 100% of the Miramar location, 50% of the PCB shop and bought the Crestview venue for his wife — rolled ice cream originated in Thailand.

"If people only want regular ice cream, they don't have to come here. They can go to another ice cream shop," he said. "Here is more Asian culture."

The idea for the brand stemmed from Ou's time living in New York City. After moving to Florida in 2016, he decided to tweak his plan to fit the coast.

"It was my dream to open a coffee shop because there were coffee shops on every corner of New York City," said Ou, who added Chinatown was the first place in the U.S. to offer rolled ice cream. "I thought Florida was too hot for coffee, (so) I thought why not open an ice cream shop and also serve coffee."

Most of the menu is inspired by Ou's time spent traveling to different Asian countries during the off season. His shops also offer regular ice cream, in addition to other unique items like Boba Tea.

After escaping from Hurricane Michael basically unscathed, Ou hopes to eventually open a fourth and final location near the HarborWalk Village.

In addition to serving ice cream and coffee along the coast, he also works as a volunteer Chinese translator for the U.S. Coast Guard.

As a Chinese immigrant with a childhood dream of joining the military, Ou said his duties allow him to satisfy a deeply rooted passion for service, along with giving back to the country that has become his own.

"My face is a Chinese face, my accent is a Chinese accent, but by now, (I'm a) U.S. citizen," he said. "I wanted to do something for this country. This is my country right now."