franchising a new type of
ice cream parlor (again), which not only will serve European style, and
quality, ice cream, but also espresso cafe as well as ready to eat, or
to take home, Viennese pastries and deli
include European bread, white and rye, as well as the finest sausages,
which can be eaten heated or cold. Anyone that has
been to Europe and experienced these, will know exactly what we mean,
know that these types of delicacies are not readily available here.
We started out in 1970, importing ice
cream production machines from Italy.
We tested our first
machine in our office at the Cannery in San Francisco, by producing
five Gallons of ice cream. As that was too much to eat, we
invited all the people in the building's 100 offices to come for a free
A retired fireman,
who had rented an office in order to have the peace and quiet to write
a book, came into my office the following day and asked "Do you know
what I am going to do?".
I smiled "You will
write a book." He had talked about that before.
"No," was his reply,
"I am going to open an ice cream parlor." And so he did.
Using the equipment I had imported, he started the first parlor at 201
Parnassus Avenue, and later started additional stores on Union and
Clement Streets under the name of Gelato Classico Italian.
One of his first
employees, a young woman, after she parted company with her employer,
approached me about opening an ice cream parlor in Berkeley, near the
University, which she opened with 2 friends, and which became extremely
We opened a parlor
in San Rafael (see above pictures) in order to test the machines,
recipes as well as customer reactions to the product. This was
done in a building that had become available due to the failure of a
mexican style fast food restaurant, which was made available to us on a
month to month basis, until the owner had made his plans to do
something with the whole property.
The parlor was run
by a bunch of girls from the adjacent high school.
Some of the
anecdotes that came out of that were:
A couple coming from
South San Francisco, because they had heard of the 'whip cream like'
ice cream. They were not disappointed.
Another time when I
came on one of my visits to check how things were going, a man in his
30's was pointed out to me eating out of a quart container outside the
store. "This is his second quart", I was informed.
On weekends I would
often take care of business myself. On one such occasion, an
elderly couple that had become regulars, made the statement, that this
was the only ice cream that didn't give them heartburn.
In the beginning of
operating that store, I would sometimes hear that there were initial
complaints because the ice cream sold for a lot more than that of other
stores'. But once these people had tasted the ice cream and
experienced how much heavier the product was than what they were used
to, these complaints vanished.
Some mothers would
buy our ice cream for themselves, then go to the Thrifty drugstore next
door and buy the cheap stuff for their kids (about $ 1.00 versus 25
Cents at the time).
When we closed the store due to the loss of the property lease, there
were many steady customers who when alerted to that fact, lamented the
closure greatly. Since at the time we had other irons in the fire
that looked more interesting as well as profitable, we gave up on
following this up.