Written by The Business Journal Staff
Director of Operations
Ampersand Ice Cream
Education: Organizational leadership B.S. from Biola University.
Family: Wife Amelia and 1-year-old son Roscoe
WHAT WE DO: Ampersand Ice Cream is a small batch creamery focused on utilizing the best products the Central Valley has to offer.
What made you decide to do ice cream as a business?
Before opening Ampersand I had about 20 years of experience in food service and management, so when it came time to open something of my own, Amelia and I thought about what we could add to Fresno’s food scene. We had lots of ideas in mind, but there was nothing close to artisan ice cream. So, Amelia decided to take a go at making it, and when acquaintances started to offer money for ice cream, we felt like we could take the leap of faith and go for it.
What are some of the new flavors at Ampersand that you’re most excited about?
We have gotten to a point where we have a pretty good arsenal of specials that are hard to pass on bringing back when it’s their time, but this time of year I love the Drunken Apple and the Candy Cap Mushroom. This is made with apples soaked overnight in apple brandy cooked down in butter sugar and cinnamon. The applesauce is then mixed in our classic cream base and swirled with our salted caramel. The Candy Cap Mushroom has a natural maple flavor to it that is unexpected and delicious!
What have been some of the ways you’ve been connecting with other businesses in the Central Valley?
We connect to other Central Valley businesses in a variety of ways. We buy from as many as local small businesses as possible from our dairy with Top O’ The Morn Farms to eggs, honey, coffee, etc.We also sell to a select few restaurants like The Annex Kitchen and Cracked Pepper. We also have our Fresno Proud Project that connects us with non-profit organizations. It has been part of our mission and vision with Ampersand to be as much a part of the community as possible!
What sets Ampersand apart from chain establishments like Baskin Robbins and Cold Stone Creamery?
What sets Ampersand apart from chain or franchised ice cream is that we make everything completely from scratch on site. We are a licensed dairy plant with the state of California and that allows us to curate our recipes from the very beginning, and daily! If you come to the shop, you will be eating ice cream that was made and frozen no more than two days prior.
How have preparations been going for the second location in north Fresno?
We are very excited for our second location at Marks and Herndon. Our landlords have been tremendously supportive and helpful in bringing us to the northwest side of town. However, plans have been in the city for months and there have been a lot of hang-ups there. As soon as we get those back, things will hopefully move much faster. We are making a large investment in this next spot, so we are eager to get it up and running!
How does the use of locally sourced products affect the overall quality of your product?
Using local ingredients adds to the freshness quality of our ice cream. Because our milk comes from only 40 min away and our produce is being delivered often by growers, we get to have relationships with these amazing local business owners that gives us an ability to communicate needs and share appreciation. Local is always the cheapest option, but the quality and relationships that come with it certainly make the cost worth it.
How does the husband/wife dynamic play into your business?
Working with your spouse is not for everyone, but we decided VERY early on that our marriage was No. 1 and the business No. 2. We also preach the importance of job roles, that way we know our lanes and can be supportive and hold each other accountable. Overall, it has worked really well for us and it’s an amazing feeling to have created Ampersand together.
What are your roots in the Central Valley?
Amelia is the one with the Fresno history – her family moved here in 1998. I came here from Santa Barbara after Amelia and I were engaged. It took a couple summers to really fall in love with Fresno, but now I’m all in!
What do you like to do in your spare time?
In my free time I like to spend time with Amelia and our son. I have always loved to play hockey but not a ton of spare time these days, so I hope to get more rink time in soon.