The look of pure joy on a customer’s face while savoring one of Rori Trovato’s ice cream concoctions is not something the cream connoisseur has really been able to regularly see firsthand — until now.
Rori’s Artisanal Creamery made the move from wholesale to retail this month when the organic ice cream brand opened a stand-alone shop in Montecito.
Santa Barbara’s first organic creamery that two years ago began selling pints at one location in Gelson’s at Jeannine’s has expanded into nearly 70 stores along the Central Coast and in Southern California.
The retail shop opening at 1024-D Coast Village Road on Dec. 8 has capped off a successful two-year span for Trovato’s ice cream, which is made fresh in small batches with fruit from local farmers markets, chocolate from a fair-trade organic company, Sweet Earth Chocolates, and Straus Family Creamery’s milk, cream and eggs.
With any luck, Montecito won’t be the only community graced with one of Trovato’s ice cream shops, she told Noozhawk.
“The reaction has been great,” Trovato said, adding that she would like to see a shop in Santa Barbara or Isla Vista. “It’s really fun to sell in retail.”
Sitting outside her small shop in one of many comfortable orange chairs and tables, Trovato was greeted warmly by and received congratulations from passersby and fellow retailers excited to see her brand in the string of other shops.
With fewer than 300 square feet to work with, Trovato has given the small corner shop the feel of a classic ice cream parlor. Orange-colored menu items and a closet refurbished to look like a refrigerator are some of the highlights.
She said her 12 wholesale flavors — including favorites salty caramel, malted milk ball and fresh mint patty — have also recently been added to specialty shelves at the Whole Foods Market in Santa Barbara.
Depending on sales, Trovato’s ice cream could soon move into Whole Foods stores in Sherman Oaks and Westlake Village. Once she masters the region, she said, the ice cream could also travel to Arizona and Hawaii.
No worries about the ice cream losing its local touch, however, Trovato said.
“I wanted to just offer people an alternative to what they call continual freeze,” she said. “We do it in a small batch. We will just get more small-batch machines. It still stays local no matter where we go.”
The goal, she said, is to expand into larger and larger markets while staying with farmers and products local to that area.
Trovato said a big part of getting her ice cream out there includes free demonstrations to get customers hooked. She recently started demonstrations at Whole Foods.
“I haven’t made much money yet,” Trovato said, smiling. “People aren’t used to eating really creamy, yummy ice cream. We use such great cream and milk that you taste it. What I think that differentiates us from the competition is the ‘punch.’”
Whether her brand expands to throughout the country isn’t at the forefront of Trovato’s day-to-day thinking, she said.
She joked that her new shop is still waiting for proper signs above its door.
“Such a big part of our market is in L.A.,” Trovato said, noting that more work is needed to be truly profitable and marketable. “Once we do that, we’ll go play with the big boys in San Francisco.”