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Annalese Sharrock Strategic Director
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This has been the hottest summer on record. As the sun shone incessantly, New Plymouth locals flooded our beaches and rivers, farmers did rain dances, and everyone got all excited about the opening of the region’s first gelato parlour, the pop-up store Creamy Jo’s.
Sadly, Creamy Jo’s will open its doors for the last time on Sunday 29 April. But, never fear, you can still get your fix of this delicious handmade gelato at other locations around New Plymouth and there’s some exciting news on the horizon … plus, you can earn loyalty stamps for every scoop this week (it’s usually just for every item)!
Creamy Jo’s has quite the following of fans, all crazy about its creamy gelato goodness. So, we thought it was high-time to hear from the people behind Creamy Jo’s and their plans and dreams for the future.
Short answer, yes.
However, Jo Eliason—the craftswoman behind the gelato—wasn’t exactly brimming with enthusiasm when we first suggested the name (for obvious reasons … I mean, would you want to be forever known as Creamy [Insert Your Name Here]?!). But the temporary nature of the store and some convincing from our brand team and her business partners got the friendly and fun-loving name across the line.
But when did Jo start on her gelato-making journey?
“We opened Lush Café in 2008 and wanted to have a point of difference in the business so decided on having gelato,” says Jo. “At the time no one in Taranaki made gelato.
“We entered the New Zealand Ice Cream Awards in 2010 and have had successful results with silver or gold awards every year except one. Last year was our most successful year with three golds.”
Jo is also the co-owner of Public Catering, the ever-popular lunch and coffee destination in the West End Precinct, where they also have Jo’s gelato for sale (as well as Lush). With the success of the gelato and a local market crying out for more, it made sense to let the gelato shine on its own stage.
In 2017, the decision was made to enter the process of gaining approval to distribute to a wider market. So, as part of that journey, the gelato was re-branded from Lush Gelato to Left Coast Gelato. The “left coast” in the name references the connection to Taranaki’s west coast location while still portraying a spirit of summer fun and not being afraid to have things come from left field.
“The long term plan is to get Left Coast Gelato in retail outlets and restaurants in the wider New Zealand market,” says Jo. This is quite a process, though. So in late 2017, Jo saw an opportunity to give the gelato a stage of its own in the meantime: “We produce gelato from our production kitchen in the White Hart, but the cabinets we have in Public are set into the bench and not very visual. Gelato is all about the look as people eat with their eyes first! The shop in the White Hart became available for a short-term, so we jumped at the chance to open a pop-up gelato parlour for the summer months.”
Remarkably, it only took the Creamy Jo’s team four weeks from making the call to open to actually opening the doors for business. Four weeks to do a complete shop fit-out, hire staff, create a brand name and brand identity, produce unique signage and neon lights, install two chocolate fountains, and purchase a cabinet that had to come all the way from Australia—impressive!
With Creamy Jo’s closing at the end of April 2018, Left Coast Gelato’s most popular flavours are still available from Public Catering Company and Lush Café and Jo says they are looking also at making takeaway grab-and-go tubs available in Public Catering. Once they get the all-clear to produce as a wholesaler, there will be Left Coast Gelato popping up on shelves all over the place … watch this space.
However, one of the challenges for making gelato for the wider New Zealand market is that Jo is committed to maintaining the handmade aspect of the brand—part of why it tastes so delicious and fresh. “Once you get into the supermarket chains,” explains Jo, “producers are under pressure to produce large quantities and I think they lose a bit of the love that goes into a handmade product.”
It’s no surprise to us that Creamy Jo’s has been such a hit. “We couldn’t have picked a better summer to open Creamy Jo’s as its been hot,” says Jo. “People of all ages love the concept and we find that the night times are our busiest times of day as people love to grab a gelato after dinner on the way home.”
So, are we going to see Creamy Jo’s pop up anywhere else?
“Yes!” exclaims Jo. “Unfortunately it won’t be in the same shop, as that has been earmarked for another project. However, we hope to find somewhere just as cool.”
Stay tuned for more and, in the meantime, visit Creamy Jo’s until 29 April 2018 (remember, loyalty cards are per scoop!) and then be sure to get your Left Coast Gelato fix from here: