In Italy there are over 30,000 gelato parlours out of about 70,000 gelato stores around the world, with Germany being the second biggest market. But France too can be a good alternative for opening a gelato shop: there is room for new stores, the French have a very sweet tooth, they are consumers with discerning taste and it’s quite easy to find top ingredients. However, various aspects need to be taken into consideration and a good business model needs to be drawn up, while the company’s values and uniqueness also need to be properly communicated.
The first step, if you want to open a gelato shop, is to define your offer: gelato can be produced in various different ways and can be combined with other products, depending on the local culture and tastes. You may decide to open:
• a specialist hand-made gelato parlour
• a creamy express or soft-serve gelato parlour
• a gelato café, with Italian breakfast, chocolate, smoothies
Once you have decided on your business model and offer, you will need to draw up an investment budget and find out about the costs associated with:
- setting up the company
- machinery, equipment, showcases
- purchase of raw materials
- tubs, cones, etc.
- the shop, including furniture and restructuring work where required
- the shop name, logo and communication tools
With regard to permits, contact the local health department to find out which regulations govern the sale of gelato and then get a business license at the local courthouse. Each city has specific regulations, so you will need to check all of these issues carefully.
Setting up the company requires an accountant, who will be able to handle all of the accounting matters relating to the establishment of the company.
Hand-made gelato parlour
A hand-made gelato workshop requires less investment, because less space is needed for production and sale, fewer employees are required, and furnishings are less expensive. In addition, the cost of gelato ingredients is approximately 12% of the final price (about 20% if you include milk, cream and eggs) ensuring a good profit margin on each portion sold. But there are also disadvantages: a workshop hand-made gelato workshop is affected by the changing seasons and weather, which means it could be difficult to stay open for more than seven months a year. It’s also important to know that in France desserts and chocolate have great positioning and image: the streets of Paris are full of luxury chocolatiers, very different from those you can find in other countries.
Soft-serve or creamy express gelato parlour
A soft-serve gelateria has the advantage of economy: the machinery is much less expensive and less staff are needed. You also won’t need a showcase and workshop. This type of gelato may be very common in some countries, but it is less attractive for many European consumers
Gelato cafés have the advantage of offering a comprehensive and varied range of products, suitable for different times of the day, encouraging consumption all year round: pastries, croissants, smoothies, coffees, gelatos (even soft-serve if you prefer) – various different products that may attract the customer.
This type of outlet guarantees a higher turnover but obviously requires various licenses, more space and well-trained staff for different functions, equipment and, often, tables and chairs.
Hand-made gelato parlour: what do you need to start?
Making hand-made gelato requires a whole range of machinery and equipment. The main ones are:
- display cabinets and trays
- pasteurizing machine
- batch freezer
- blast chiller
- cream whipper, immersion blender
- planetary mixer, so that you can make and mix whipped products
- cones, cups, and containers for take-away gelato
Want more information on machinery and equipment?
Learning the art of hand-made gelato making is not difficult, but taking a course is paramount and, as in any other business, so is gaining experience. Making a good gelato might be simple, but today you have to make a great gelato if you want to succeed. You also have to learn how to communicate properly.