Have you decided to open a hand-made gelato shop or a gelato café? That means you too are passionate about gelato and moved by the desire to do something creative.
At last, everyone’s becoming aware that hand-made gelato is a healthy food in its own right, that it has great nutritional value, so much so that it’s moving away from being just a seasonal product to being something to enjoy during the winter or even as a lunchtime snack.
Searching for new flavours, satisfying new demands: gelato-making might be a traditional trade, but success still takes both imagination and cutting-edge practices. That said, like any other business scheme, opening up a gelato shop means taking on a business risk, given that the initial investment can be quite substantial.
It’s a significant decision that requires clarity on various issues – what training to do, how much to invest at the start, how to learn all about gelato-making before going for it, about the market, and most of all, about the raw materials, machinery and regulations, and to have a pretty clear idea of what marketing strategies to adopt.
Given that there’s so much competition, there’s more to success than just making delicious gelato! Indeed, quite often you will need to sell other products alongside your gelato, such as coffee, chocolate, and dry mini pastries.
This is a guide for anyone, just like you, looking to enter the gelato business.
Hand-made gelato shop or gelato café? Just gelato, or other products too?
The hand-made gelato market is very competitive, and if you’re going to make a name for yourself, you’re going to need not only a good high-quality product, but you’ll have to innovate, surprise the customer, and offer a variety of products.
Have you considered selling other pastry products alongside your gelato, or opening an Italian-style café in your shop? In fact, remember that in many parts of the world, a gelato shop will generally only be open for a few months of the year, whereas gelato cafés can afford to stay open all year round.
Even though gelato is increasingly becoming an all-year product, variety is a way of making sure that you carry on selling without worrying about seasonal peaks and troughs. Having said that, no single solution is in itself better than another; the main thing is to understand the differences and choose the right solution for the country you are aiming to open in.
Traditional or soft hand-made gelato?
There are different types of gelato, and each one has its own characteristics in terms of the investment required, the type of ingredients and machinery needed, the optimal level of knowhow, and minimum space requirements.
There is traditional hand-made gelato, which requires one type of equipment and machinery, and then there's soft creamy express gelato, which needs less equipment and space. And then there is frozen yogurt, which has been a huge hit in the USA. Today a number of gelato parlour chains have begun to open up, with a central workshop that distributes the mixtures to the various outlets.
Each alternative has its own advantages and disadvantages, and has to be evaluated considering the amount of investment capital, the demand and the culture of the country where you are looking to open.
Do you know the difference between Italian artisan gelato and industrial ice cream?