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Eeveryone has a favorite flavor of ice cream or gelato. Whether you crave vanilla, mint chocolate chips, buttery pecans, or rocky road, the childhood memories of running to catch the ice cream truck or meeting friends at the local ice cream parlor have instilled in you. the love of frozen treats in all of us. So when consumers have the opportunity to complement a good meal in your pizzeria with a delicious frozen dessert, it’s hard for them to say no. “At least 75% to 80% of our customers come just for our ice cream,” says Ajan Sathan, owner of Mario’s Ice Cream and Pizza ( in Naples, Florida, which offers 30 flavors of ice cream and the slogan, “Where every day is Sundae”.

While you might not be looking for percentages like Mario’s, the numbers show that there is a hot market for frozen desserts all year round, whether you have three flavors or 30. So let’s see how to add one or two. balls on each ticket. .

To make your own signature gelatos, start by researching local suppliers for key ingredients. Milk & Honey, for example, supplies ice cream to its sister restaurant Community Pie. Meanwhile, wholesale suppliers are offering ready-to-serve ice cream and private labeling options.

Ice cream versus gelato

Mallory Strickland, general manager of Milk & Honey in Chattanooga, Tennessee, makes delicious homemade ice cream.

When considering a frozen dessert to add to the menu, many pizza operators consider traditional and still popular Italian ice cream first. This rich, creamy taste sensation appeals to consumers looking for something unique and indulgent. But making your own ice cream can be an expensive endeavor. If you want the same quality ice cream as in Italy, the investment in the equipment could cost you over $ 100,000, according to Taylor Monen, co-owner of Community Pie ( and Milk & Honey (milkandhoneychattanooga. . com) in Chattanooga, Tennessee. “We worked with a chef in Bologna, Italy, to learn how to make authentic ice cream and get our equipment,” says Monen. “When all the equipment didn’t fit into Community Pie, we opened a satellite site, which turned into our sister restaurant Milk & Honey and now supplies all of the ice cream to our pizzeria.”

If you have the equipment or a supplier with the right equipment, the flavor combinations are endless when it comes to Italian ice cream. If you don’t have your own ice cream making equipment, a number of vendors offer homemade ice cream and other desserts in ready-to-serve packaging.

Plus, private labeling and co-packaging options are available so you can always create your own distinctive ice cream flavors, even if you don’t make them yourself. And since relatively few restaurants offer ice cream, it’s usually easy to entice customers with weekly specialty flavors. “I have created over 400 recipes over the past two years,” says Monen. “We always have five or six flavors on hand at the pizzeria and featured specialties such as bacon or basil and cream.”

Ice cream, on the other hand, is also widely adored by the masses. Ice cream flavors can range from plain vanilla to some pretty wild extremes – think horseradish and foie gras – for those who want to become a true dessert destination. “We are working with a local company that creates homemade ice cream,” says Sathan. “Some of the more popular flavors are Salted Caramel Crunch with Cashews, Turtle Cheesecake, Cake Dough and Superman. We are able to respond to requests and customize what customers want.

“Gelato flavor trends run the gamut, from savory candies, such as salted caramel, to herbal and tea-infused sorbets, such as lemon, basil and peach tea. “

—Jillian Hillard, PreGel America

Find a flavor niche

With so many flavor possibilities, it’s easy for your frozen treat menu to get out of hand. To find a healthy balance between pizza and dessert, consider offering a well-known but limited rotating flavor menu, which changes weekly and encourages dessert lovers to come back to try more. “We have an ice cream trio option on the menu that people love to share,” says Monen. “Between 25% and 50% of our customers order ice cream after their meal. “

“We still have vanilla, chocolate, strawberries, and several kid-friendly flavors, such as chewing gum or Scooper Hero, which is a fun red, blue and yellow ice cream,” says Maggie Brown, Head of service at Sal & Mookie’s New York Pizza. & Ice Cream Joint ( in Jackson, Mississippi. “Our most popular flavors are without a doubt mint chocolate chips, buttered pecans, birthday cake and plain old vanilla.”

Sometimes your flavors will be dictated by your demographics, so pay close attention to who your customers are and what flavors they gravitate to. “Naples is a great retirement city, filled with people who love to golf and go to the theater next to our pizzeria,” notes Sathan. “Some of our most popular ice cream and dessert flavors are those our customers remember from childhood: maple walnut, black cherry, root beer floats, soda floats, and more. “

Local procurement

The idea of ​​sourcing local ingredients has never been stronger, and it doesn’t end with ice cream and gelato. “We get all of our milk from a dairy farm about 100 miles from us,” says Monen. “We get eggs from a family farm in Chattanooga and chocolate from a chocolate maker in Nashville, and we use local produce in our recipes. We’ve also created a popular ice cream flavor called Cold Toddy, which uses a local whiskey from Chattanooga to mimic a Hot Toddy cocktail.

Can’t make your own ice cream or gelato? Talk to your local distributor to find a national or regional supplier who can provide you with the right flavors. Then pair them with pastries from a local bakery to show your support for the community and cross-promote with another business. “All of our scoop treats – brownies, pecan bars, chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter cookies and Cowboy cookies (an oatmeal cookie with nuts and chocolate chips) – are made in our restaurant. partner, Broad Street Baking Company & Cafe, ”says Brown.

Sundae sundaes and splits are frozen favorites at Sal & Mookie’s

Marketing your fuses

A good thing about ice cream and gelato is that the cost of giving a dollop of it here and there to boost word-of-mouth is pretty negligible. Also, rewarding town folks with a scoop of ice cream or a sundae is a fun and nostalgic way to draw people into the pizzeria. “We have coupons that we give to schools and [fundraisers] to include in gift bags; we call it a “sweet treat,” and it’s good for just one scoop of ice cream, ”Brown said. “We’re also celebrating National Ice Cream Scoop Day and other fun foodie holidays.”

Sathan agrees that marketing ice cream is easy when you involve your community (remember the good old days of social ice cream?). Mario’s is giving away free scoops for children under three with an adult ice cream purchase. Customers can also get 10% off bringing in a movie ticket, and Mario’s gives dogs a free scoop of vanilla ice cream on Wednesdays. “We coordinate with our local churches and give out free scoops of ice cream and business cards on Sundays,” says Sathan. “People here appreciate the personal touch; we even organize senior Sundays at the pizzeria where we invite the elderly from the community for a meeting. They pay $ 5 for a sundae and a drink and meet new people.

Monen says she uses social media to cross-promote Community Pie and Milk & Honey’s ice cream offerings to fans while using in-store menu boards and signage to alert customers to new flavor offerings.

Whether you decide to gift ice cream or ice cream, don’t miss the opportunity to make more sales with frozen treat options.

Liz Barrett is the editor-in-chief of PMQ.

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