Chocolate caramel and sea salt, brown butter sage, Earl Grey, celery and raisin, fresh mint, winter squash, caramel apple sorbet, chocolate sorbet and vanilla. For ice cream lovers there is only one way to decide which scoop to pick: Sample them all.
The Penny Ice Creamery is the only ice cream shop in Northern California that makes ice cream in-store completely from scratch. The new ice cream shop, which opened on the hottest day of the year, features a menu of rotating ice cream flavors and other desserts that are all made exclusively from organic and locally grown products.
“We never use a premade ice cream mix,” said co-owner of the Penny Ice Creamery Zachary Davis. “For all of our ingredients, we know exactly who it came from, where it came from, and what has been done to it prior to us.”
The ice cream is pasteurized in-store in the “clean room” at the entrance to the shop, where customers can observe the pasteurizing process. Davis and Penny Ice Creamery co-owner Kendra Baker are both licensed pasteurizers, giving them full control of what goes into the ice cream production.
And most agree that the bona fide quality of their ingredients makes a difference in the taste. Santa Cruz resident and ice cream aficionado Mike Rava said that the Penny Ice Creamery sets itself apart from other brands.
“Penny Ice Cream has a really pleasurable texture and delicate flavor that appeals to real ice cream connoisseurs,” Rava said. “You can really taste the difference in their ice cream versus other brands. Plus, because the ingredients they use are all natural, I know exactly what’s going into my body, and that makes me feel less guilty about eating ice cream.”
Under the direction of architect Christian Nielson, the space was remodeled from an old Spanish Colonial building previously used as a hair salon. After complete renovation, the space was converted to a fully equipped restaurant furnished with stone counters and wooden benches along with wooden tables.
Utilizing a minimalist design, the interior white walls are clean-cut, decorated with contemporary light fixtures and all items on the menu are simplistically handwritten in chalk on slate, a display that Baker said is ideal for showcasing what is on the menu.
“We just want it to be about the ice cream, the flavor, the taste,” Baker said. “We want people to enjoy it without a lot of other distractions.”
Customers can be involved in the invention of new flavors by submitting their ideas for new ice cream flavors in the “Penny for your thoughts” jar. If a person’s flavor idea is chosen, he or she wins a free pint of that flavor of ice cream. The Penny Ice Creamery also has an ice cream bicycle that serves ice cream at the downtown farmer’s market every Wednesday.
“We’re always just coming up with new ideas to try to make it fun,” Baker said. “Ice cream has always just been a passion of mine. I’m a pastry chef, and this is my art.”
The owners, who are both new parents, always keep in mind what they want families to experience and enjoy.
“As a parent myself, I want to provide a product that I would feel comfortable with my own kids eating,” Baker said. “I feel very blessed to have received such a warm response from the community.”