Midwest franchise Wonders Ice Cream is expected to open by next month in Southeast Fresno. Photo via Wonders
Written by Edward Smith
What began as a concept for rolled ice cream in Minneapolis, in August 2018 has already found its way to Fresno with an expected July opening.
Construction for Wonders Ice Cream is underway at 6127 E. Kings Canyon Road, Ste. 102, according to Joungkong “JK” Yang, co-founder of the franchise. Though he and franchisee Mayko Ly expect to open by July, it may open sooner, Yang said.
Instead of churning the ice cream, Wonders serves rolled ice cream made on an anti-griddle that uses a freezing-cold surface to crystallize the cream.
The ice cream is always fresh, Yang said, prepared as soon as 30 minutes prior to serving it up.
The simple method allows the creamery to make a wide-assortment of ice creams. They have the standards such as strawberry, chocolate and a mint that’s dyed blue “because it’s awesome,” Yang said, adding that they can “make anything.” Wonders also serves taro root ice cream smashed with mixed berries that comes out a purple color.
Being from the Central Valley and loving fresh fruit, Ly is looking forward to the “mangonada,” which is mango, chamoy and Tajin, a Mexican chili, lime and sea salt blend. In addition to the frozen treats, they also have Italian ice, shaved ice and desserts like the baked honey buns topped with ice cream.
The ice cream is made before the customer’s eyes. Yang refers to his concept as “the hibachi of ice cream,” likening the process to the showmanship and excitement of teppanyaki chefs.
Because they don’t sit on large quantities of inventory or need large amounts of freezer space, startup costs and overhead are relatively low, Yang said.
Ly only needs a single-door freezer and a double-door refrigerator to operate. Her machines came in last week and she’s begun studying to perfect her ice-cream making.
Yang opened the first Wonders Ice Cream in August of last year in Minneapolis, when the rolled ice cream trend caught his and his partner Kit Houngnakhone’s eye. They penciled out the concept and opened the first store in Minneapolis. Another 13 are either open or under construction.
Ly found out about Wonders through Houngnakhone, a mutual acquaintance.
“The Hmong community is pretty small,” Yang said, “whether it’s California or Minnesota.” Yang has his own connections to Fresno from the numerous times he’s been to the Hmong New Year celebrations.
Houngnakhone explained the concept to Ly, who then reached out to Yang about franchising two years ago before it was ready.
By this February, Yang felt the model was proven and contacted Ly about opening. Now, she is converting a former dry cleaner at an up-and-coming shopping center at Kings Canyon and Fowler avenues. She said though some of the units are still under construction, they’ve all had their leases signed.
Ly will start with her and her kids running the shop, and hopes to employ about 15 people in total. She sees the job as a perfect opportunity for those looking for job experience. It takes about three training sessions before employees “break the ice” and make the ice cream for customers. Ly will be heading out to Minneapolis soon to see the store in action before the July opening.
“Summer’s coming and what better time for ice cream than now?” Ly asks.