Opening a gelato shop in the US

Opening a gelato shop in the US

Most Americans love Italian food: coffee, pizza, pasta and, more and more in the last years, gelato, a frozen dessert very popular in Italy and all over the world, thanks to its taste and its lightness. 

Gelato shops are growing fast in Europe, South America and in the Far East. But gelato is knowing a great success also in the USA, where there is still a lot of space for new gelato shops.

But is gelato a convenient business? Is it better to offer just gelato or also frozen yogurt and coffee? One shop is enough to make your business worth?

There is not a single answer to all these questions. Opening a gelato shop requires, as any other start-up business, an in-depth evaluation of many aspects and a good knowledge of the production process because gelato, as any other food product, is the result of the transformation of different ingredients to produce a final food.     

But there are some steps that you can follow before opening your gelato shop.

Analyze and understand the market

  • Try to find statistics about gelato consumption and shops in the US and in your area.
  • Visit gelato shops in your state.
  • Check the most successful gelato shops and chains in the US.
  • Try a real Italian gelato, possibly in Italy.
  • Talk with experts, in your country but possibly also in Italy.
  • If you can, visit SIGEP, the most important trade shows about Italian gelato, held in Rimini, Italy, every January, or check one of the trade shows in the US.
  • Ask support from one of the many Italian gelato ingredients companies. They often have offices and distributors in the USA and can offer advice on how to open a gelato shop and free training.
  • Define your business: just gelato or also other Italian goodies? Organic gelato or not?

Before opening the gelato store

  • Develop a business plan, with the help of an expert, making sure you have all the information and an estimates of sales.
  • Select a location, with the right dimension, taking into account that foot traffic is always important.
  • Select the suppliers (ingredients, machines, equipment), ask for  a few offers, select the best, considering not only the price, but also the quality.
  • Define the values, the positioning and corporate identity of your gelato shop.

Learn how to make a real Italian gelato: there are several training courses in Italy and most ingredients companies offer training also in the USA. They will teach you the secrets to produce a great gelato, how to market it, how to open and manage the shop.

Obtain all business licenses and permits required by your state and local governments. You will need to have your shop inspected before receiving approval from the state health inspector. You will also need to register your business with your state. This can be usually done on the state's secretary of state website and involves a search to make sure the name you have chosen is not already in use in the state. You also will need to obtain an Employer Identification Number from the Internal Revenue Service as well as the proper insurance.

Would you like to receive free advice on how to open a gelato shop? We will put you in contact with the best Italian gelato companies. Write us at

Opening a gelato shop in the US
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