We own three businesses in Belleville, but my wife Sharon and I have a trailer on West Lake and we come to Wellington all the time, so we know it’s an amazing, booming little town with lots of new businesses. When one of Sharon’s clients at The Cat’s Meow Salon asked us to sell our ice cream as the flagship business in his Wellington building, we jumped at the chance.
Ice cream has been in our blood for the last 5 years. We liked the idea of having a great product prepared that we could serve quickly, as well as our more time consuming catering operation. I guess we’ve had too much bad ice cream in our past, so we wanted to make really good ice cream. I went to Penn State for their short ice cream course and then did a more comprehensive gelato class.
We run Urban Herb Catering on Victoria Street and the salon is next door. When the adjoining building came on the market I tried to hide the For Sale sign from Sharon, but she saw it and we bought it. Then we had to fill it with something, so we decided to do ice cream production in the back and keep a café up front. It’s called Nice Ice Baby Ice Cream Café.
Sharon’s client Anthony Lemke had the brilliant idea of putting a bunch of small boutiques in one building, and when he discovered we were making ice cream he asked us to open Nice Ice Baby in Wellington. We are just seasonal and we sell only ice cream, but I think there will be more people doing what Anthony has done, dividing up space in these cool old buildings to accommodate exciting little businesses.
THE ICE CREAM
Our ice cream is artisan because it’s small batch made with very few ingredients. We keep it simple, local berries, Canadian peaches, very little stabilizer, just enough sugar. No preservatives, no artificial colour or flavour. Of course when we put in Turtle pieces and Skore chucks, I’m sure they’ve got added stuff, but people LOVE it! One of our most popular flavours is Vegan Coconut Vanilla. In ice cream our best seller is Espresso Score Crunch. A full scoop gives you about the same caffeine as a 6 oz. coffee, so on a hot day you get a good caffeine hit from beautiful cold ice cream. In gelato, our top flavour is Earl Grey Tea. I’m a chef. I know how to deal with ingredients. I experiment with the chemistry and I have fun. I wrapped Earl Grey tea leaves and soaked them in the mixture overnight and next day the taste was fantastic. I do the same with Prince Edward County lavender for a beautiful flavour.
We launched Nice Ice Baby in Wellington during Maple in the County, and had a huge hit with County Maple and Candied Bacon ice cream! It was awesome. We didn’t sell a lot, but everybody had to taste it and it really got people talking.
We support local farmers, we use local ingredients, so of course we use wine, too. Our Terracello wine sorbet has three and a half bottles of a sweet red wine in each batch. It’s a creamy red wine sorbet, but the alcohol is reduced, like wine reduction in a savoury dish, so it’s not enough to intoxicate. It just tastes great.
We don’t sell wholesale. We sell ice cream and gelato in our year round café and it’s all ice cream in our seasonal Wellington shop. Perhaps we will go to the wholesale level, but not for now.
As well as the catering business, we have a food truck, Urban Herb on the Curb. There’s a bit of a food truck explosion in The County, which is great. It takes a lot of energy, it’s not an easy gig, you’re weather dependent. But people get into it because of their love of food. It’s a good entry level to show what you can do and get people tasting your food. I know Guapos Cantina considered a food truck, but Mike Traynor suggested they set up barbecues at his Traynor Family Winery and go the outdoor kitchen route. It’s like an evolution of entrepreneurs! It’s great to see.
For startups or businesses looking to expand or re-locate to The County, you can fill out this Business Inquiry Questionnaire, and the Community Development Department will respond in 48 hours.