Move over, gelato, ice cream’s in town
“Sorry about that,” Joan McCullough says as she picks up the phone again. “I’m making ice cream in the back and serving customers in the front.”
She’s busy running her new ice cream parlour, Marble Slab Creamery, which opened on Sept. 12 at 31 Colossus Dr. in Woodbridge, a place not unfamiliar with ice cream.
“Marble Slab is very unique,” she says. “We’re hearing a lot of feedback from local people that it’s a nice change from the gelato and what they’re used to in the local market.”
McCullough and her husband Kirk opened their Marble Slab location after searching for a franchise opportunity with the help of a broker.
“My husband and I didn’t care for anything that was coming our way,” she says, until an ad she spotted in the Toronto Star jogged her memory of a vacation she had taken years ago with some friends.
“We went out for an ice cream treat one evening,” she recalls. “It was a Marble Slab that we had gone to and I had remembered that experience – it was something to remember.”
The company is based in Houston, with franchises sprinkled throughout the U.S., western Canada and as far afield as the United Arab Emirates. McCullough says she saw an opening in the Vaughan area – the closest stores are a pair two hours west in London.
“I knew that there was nothing in the market like this,” she says, adding that being a trailblazer has its challenges. “It’s been going slow because the Marble Slab brand name isn’t well known here.”
What makes Marble Slab unique, McCullough says, is the homemade approach to everything. All the ice cream – roughly 40 flavours worth – is made in-store, as are the different varieties of waffle cone.
Add 20-something toppings and mixings to choose from and “each person is creating their own unique ice cream”, she says.
The 108-square-metre store is open seven days a week and employs six, though McCullough says she’ll need more in the spring when the weather turns warm.
Besides familiar cones and sundaes, Marble Slab also offers sundae bar catering, ice cream cakes and will even help groups in their fundraising efforts. McCullough says she’ll donate $5 for every cake a group sells.
Though her store doesn’t have a properly illuminated sign yet, due to a variance issue with the city, and her time is full with making and selling ice cream, her enthusiasm hasn’t melted. She already has an eye on a second location.
“We’re really, really excited,” she says. “The feedback that we’re getting and the repeat business, we know it’s going to be a big thing.
“Basically, once I get the ice cream in their mouths, they keep coming back.”
Vaughan Today Friday, October 5, 2007 Page: 7 Section: Vaughan Business Byline: Philip Alves