I think about myself an ice cream connoisseur. I’ll fortunately eat all of it yr spherical – straight from the pint when given a selection – and can select it over cake or pie any day. After I’m touring, I at all times attempt native favorites (Ted Drewes, I’m you) to get an actual style of an space.
I don’t consider all ice lotions are created equal and I’m very choosy – though I’ll attempt just about any taste from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Lotions or Salt & Straw.
So, once I was craving — I imply researching — regional ice creams that may very well be delivered across the nation, and got here throughout Atomic Creamery, I used to be intrigued however skeptical. Situated in Newport Seaside, a well-liked Southern California vacationer vacation spot, may it actually stay as much as the hype?
Effectively, inside one spoonful of Chocolate 3 (“Chocolate taken to the third energy”), the reply was an apparent, “Sure.” Actually, extra like “duh,” as a result of there’s no query when you style it.
I made a decision to achieve out to founders/homeowners/operators Joshua and Kari Leasure and Ernest Jacquet to seek out out extra about their enterprise and to study the key behind their excellent ice cream.
Inform us slightly concerning the three of you.
Josh is a retired, disabled fight veteran Navy SEAL. Kari can also be a veteran, serving 4 years within the Navy Nurse Corp. She has a background in advertising and marketing and finance. Ernest can also be a veteran and served 4 years within the Pacific Theater as a U.S. Navy Underwater Demolition Diving Officer. He’s a profitable Personal Fairness and Enterprise Capital investor who began his personal fund, Parthenon Capital, in 1998, which manages $4 billion of capital. He’s retired and focuses on smaller firms the place he could make a distinction as a mentor. He was an early investor in Keurig.
What’s your personal historical past with ice cream?
We don’t have any historical past with ice cream however Kari grew up round meals in a big Jewish household and my uncles opened what’s now a series of sports activities bars within the Southeast. We even have prolonged household that owned sandwich retailers so meals has at all times been part of our on a regular basis existence. Equally necessary, I’ve a advertising and marketing background, having labored at Kellogg’s with their pure frozen meals model, Kashi.
Kari labored with Ernest on varied funding alternatives for a number of years and we have been in search of a possibility for the 2 of them to associate.
In 2017, an funding in a single retailer liquid nitrogen operation that Kari had helped consider and to draw extra traders became a passive funding attempting to assist an outdated acquaintance based mostly on an concept offered on Shark Tank. The three of us labored collectively to develop it however, after a couple of irritating months, we realized we needed to shut down the unique retailer and fully begin over with a unique strategy, menu, branding and site. From the ashes got here Atomic Creamery, a 1950’s ice cream parlor, versus the previous, extremely trendy type that didn’t enchantment to prospects.
The place did the title Atomic Creamery come from?
We began with the theme – a 1950’s ice cream parlor with pink counter stools and a black and white checkered ground – and a imaginative and prescient for a setting that may perform as a spot to unwind and unplug. We needed a throwback to less complicated occasions with a way of nostalgia – full with an genuine jukebox. We additionally needed to pay homage to the diners of the previous that Kari had frequented as a child together with her grandfather. Households at all times touch upon how a lot they take pleasure in escaping to a bygone period, when life was less complicated and iPhones have been science fiction!
The Nineteen Fifties are additionally related to the Atomic Age so we went with that. It made it straightforward to construct spinoff taste names like The Gramhattan Mission, a transparent affiliation with the period and a buyer favourite.
What’s your ice cream making course of? How do you utilize liquid nitrogen?
The flash freezing methodology utilizing liquid nitrogen has been round because the 1800s and was primarily utilized in excessive finish eating places solely via the late ‘80s and early ‘90s as a method to provide on-demand contemporary tableside cocktails, frozen desserts and ice lotions. For us, flash freezing means including liquid nitrogen (minus 321 levels Fahrenheit) to our base through a specialised cryo dispenser that is linked to a big 240L Dewar through a vacuumed insulated manifold.
We make every scoop and pint contemporary when ordered. We begin all of our full dairy ice lotions with an natural four-ingredient ice cream base from Straus Household Creamery, a 75 yr outdated generational natural farm in Northern California, to provide an awfully clean, creamy and dense (much less air) ice cream in 3-4 minutes. As a result of we’re using liquid nitrogen to flash freeze, there may be much less formation of ice crystals within the ice cream manufacturing so our creamier and dense texture shines via.
What makes your ice cream so distinctive?
First is that ice cream base from Straus Household Creamery. Second, we use solely contemporary, premium components to create distinctive flavors that stand other than our rivals. For instance, our rivals use strawberry taste as an ingredient, whereas we solely use contemporary strawberries sourced from Manassero, a neighborhood farm. We use Double Stuffed Oreos for our Cookies-n-Cream, our pistachios are from Turkey and our cherries are imported from Italy. Additionally, we now have created a singular menu that includes a nostalgic Americana part in addition to a European and Center Jap flare which can be distinctive to our familial backgrounds and worldwide travels. We put an actual emphasis on texture, style and odor.
What’s been essentially the most difficult side of proudly owning an ice cream enterprise?
As a small startup in a extremely regulated state like California, there are such a lot of guidelines and rules that have to be addressed in a well timed and cost-effective method. Additionally, recruiting a dependable and conscientious worker base is difficult. It’s troublesome to seek out that “diamond within the tough” who has as a lot ardour and satisfaction of their work as Josh and Ernest and I do as homeowners. As well as, there’s a generational hole. This era is all about extremely automated manufacturing. ATOMIC, then again, is very fingers on and labor intensive.
How do you provide you with flavors?
Our menu was designed as a compromise between what we felt have been essentially the most nostalgic Americana flavors of the 1950’s – easy, on a regular basis flavors everyone knows and love – and taste profiles of mixtures that our prospects would recognize from our ethnic backgrounds and travels. A wonderful instance is our Halvah, which is a fan favourite. It’s a standard Lebanese sesame paste sweet blended with our natural dairy base and Turkish pistachios. It’s scrumptious. Additionally, since we solely use contemporary components, we provide an in depth array of seasonal merchandise comparable to strawberry, mango, peach, pineapple and pumpkin. Some flavors, like Hen N Waffles, are unique concepts that I deconstructed from desserts or different savory dishes.
What number of flavors do you’ve got?
20 flavors can be found all yr round with 3-4 restricted flavors every month of a selected season.
Which is the most well-liked taste?
By way of our easy flavors, it’s Cookies-n-Cream however in our “Creamations” class, it’s a toss-up between Buckeye and Halvah. Out restricted version Pomegranate, which we provide solely within the winter, is a sell-out daily and a labor of affection to provide.
Do you’ve got private favorites?
Halvah and Booza are my favorites. Each are a throwback to my childhood and the household holidays and taste profiles which can be harking back to my grandmother’s kitchen and her tales of the outdated nation. They’re distinctive of their sweetness and underlying homage to cultural delights solely obtainable regionally within the Center East.
How did the pandemic have an effect on your corporation?
COVID pressured us, like many different companies, to pivot shortly. We have been grateful to have my husband be a part of us full time in late April 2020. Josh pushed us to take a look at contingency plans outdoors of our brick and mortar retailer which had instantly turned ineffective over the span of lockdowns and the pandemic.
We shortly constructed an internet gross sales web site and rebuilt our web site. We moved into curbside and take away very quickly and inside two weeks of lockdown have been delivering to all of Orange County, quickly adopted by San Diego and Los Angeles. Supply was key as Josh and I delivered from “retailer to door.” It cast our private teammate mentality to its max. Day by day, we needed to be in sync and on level.
The pandemic pushed us to actually extract one of the best out of our workers and stress the significance of presentation and high quality of the tip product. We needed to replicate our in-store expertise in a 16 oz pint customized container with out the fog and all of the extras.
We additionally designed and renovated a 1959 Airstream Journey Trailer to supply offsite catering for every thing from sporting occasions and birthdays to company occasions, weddings and Bar/Bat Mitzvahs.
We designed an outer shipper to carry an insulated cooler that permits ATOMIC to ship our contemporary, made to order ice cream nationwide in a single day and through two day air at an inexpensive worth.
Creating different income streams has been difficult with new distributors and every thing that goes into that nevertheless it has taught us loads about our personal limitations, our negotiating abilities and our work ethic. COVID was a make or break check of our group that required ingenuity, a long-haul mentality and sacrifices.
What share of your corporation is now on-line?
In 2020, on-line gross sales made up 80% of our enterprise. For 2021, thus far, our on-line enterprise makes up greater than 50% of our gross sales. Our Air Stream and company sponsored occasions have been very profitable and we just lately ready 250 pints for an organization as welcome again items to workers after a yr away from the workplace. We’d love to do extra of that.
What are your plans for the long run?
Our present focus is to develop our occasion and on-line enterprise. We’re additionally exploring a extra streamlined buyer expertise within the retailer. Our largest asset has at all times additionally been our largest problem—we’re distinctive and particular as a result of we insist on utilizing contemporary components and making every thing to order, all of which is extra labor intensive. We refuse to automate and demand on hand-making and hand-packing our product.
Anything you’d like readers to know?
We’re invested in our area people with outreach and help to the native elementary, center and excessive colleges. We additionally help our native Police and First Responders with free ice cream in uniform or low cost with ID.
You’ll be able to (and, belief me, it is best to) order ice cream from Atomic Creamery wherever in the US on their web site, the place if you happen to purchase 5 pints, you get the sixth one free.