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Armed with just a dream and the determination to make it come to life, Simona Faroni & Guido Tremolini came from Italy and settled in the US 14 years ago. Their dream? To show Americans just how good Italian gelato really is.

If you’re not aware of what exactly gelato is, it’s an ‘evolutionized’ version of American ice cream. Instead of heavy cream, gelato uses milk. Throw in some fresh fruit and some other ingredients and you have a taste of heaven without the guilt.

Tell us a little about San Gelato Café.

San Gelato Café is meticulously modeled on authentic gelateria shops that are common throughout Italy. The café is an upscale, quick-casual concept specializing in Italian gelato and sorbet as well as authentic Italian foods and desserts. The menu includes natural and fresh products such as artisan panini (Italian sandwiches), wraps, salads, pizzas, and several classic Italian desserts. The cafe features a true, contemporary Italian themed décor that provides a very European ambiance meant to provide customers with a trip to Italy right in their own neighborhood.

What was the inspiration for it?

Owners Simona Faroni & Guido Tremolini came from Italy 14 years ago with a dream and a goal to share authentic, Italian gelato and sorbet with America. They were here on vacation in Northwest Florida and fell in love with the area as well as each other. They decided to make the area their new home and open up a gelateria just like the ones in their native Italy. When they moved to the US, they knew no English and were unable to receive approval for their Italian gelato and sorbet equipment because no code was even in existence for that sort of equipment! After 14 long months of working with the Department of Agriculture and the Food & Drug administration, they finally received approval!

Responding to a growing demand for healthier food alternatives, the café‘s menu stays true to cherished Italian culinary traditions. Since then, the couple has opened another store in the area and has begun franchising out the concept nationally. In November of 2009, a franchise store was opened up in South Jordan, Utah.

What is gelato & sorbet?

Gelato & sorbet are in essence fine Italian ice cream, though they hold several advantages over typical American ice cream. We always say that gelato is the evolution of the ice cream world. Gelato uses milk as its main ingredient as opposed to American ice cream which uses heavy cream. The result is that gelato is 93% fat free! Gelato also uses less whipped air during the creation process than ice cream which makes gelato very dense with a creamy texture that just bursts with flavor.

Sorbet, or sorbetto in Italian, is similar to gelato but uses pure water instead of milk as its main ingredient. They are simply made with fresh fruit, filtered water and natural stabilizers. Sorbets are 100% fat-free, dairy-free as well as gluten-free and are considered to be Vegan. All our products are all natural with no additives, preservatives or artificial flavorings. We use some of the best ingredients in the world from Gherkins Cocoa from the Netherlands to Pistachios and Blood Oranges from Sicily to Vanilla Beans from Tahiti.

How many different flavors are available?

In a typical café, there are several dipping cabinet options to choose from depending on space considerations. A typical store will hold either a 32 or 20 flavor cabinets. G.S. Gelato & Desserts is the manufacturing company Simona Faroni and Guido Tremolini created to produce gelato and sorbet for San Gelato Café. They have produced over 100 different varieties! Similar to Willy Wonka, if we can dream it, we can make it! We have around 70 flavor varieties at any given time ready to be shipped, however we are always experimenting with new flavors! Some of most recent successes include an Organic Rosemary Gelato with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Green Tea Gelato, Mediterranean Citrus, and Disaronno Amaretto with Italian Cherry to name a few.

Where can we buy it?

Our gelato and sorbet are available in several different locations. It can be purchased online via our website, www.gsgelato.com, or www.icecreamsource.com by the pint. If you live in the southeast, it will soon be available at over 260 Winn Dixie locations starting in May. If you live in the Northern California, Whole Foods Natural Grocery Stores also carry 7 of our flavors.

If you already own a business and would like an additional revenue stream for different day parts, we have distributors all over the country who can deliver the product to you or we can ship it directly from the factory. Of course there is no better way to offer the complete Italian experience than opening up a San Gelato Café of your very own!

When was San Gelato Cafe launched?

San Gelato Café was originally launched in 1996 with its first location at Silver Sands Factory Stores in Destin, Florida. G.S. Gelato produced gelato and sorbet out of a small unit that was less than a 1,000 square feet.

In what ways has it grown/changed since then?

Today, San Gelato Café has multiple locations now and has recently begun franchising to select individuals around the country. The company has plans to open several more stores both domestically and nationally in the coming year. G.S. Gelato recently upgraded its facility and moved into a new 26,000 square foot location in sunny Fort Walton Beach, Florida!

What are some of your long term goals for the business?

Long term, we plan to expand the concept on the national level by franchising as well as open up several new corporate owned stores. We recently began working with a professional franchise development director, Mr. Larry Butler, who will be taking San Gelato Café to the next level. With such great products and a great concept, we anticipate it will not take long to open several new stores.

Any tips you’d like to offer some of our readers that will help them as they start their own businesses?

Our company started and has thrived by adhering to four basic Italian proverbs.

  • When a door closes, it is because a better one has opened up
  • When the water comes to the throat, you better start swimming
  • Where there is a will, there is a way.
  • Never give up on your dreams.

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Originally posted by Angela Shupe on April 29, 2010 in Biz Ops / Interviews.

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