Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams brings James Beard award-winning flavors and ingredients to East County area.
What do gooey butter cake, brambleberry crisp and brown butter almond brittle have in common?
They are all flavors available at one of the East County area’s newest ice cream shops, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream.
Jeni’s latest location opened in February at 190 N Cattlemen Road in University Town Center. The store is named for “Chief Creative Officer” Jeni Britton Bauer, who founded the company in 2002 and won a James Beard Foundation Award in 2012 for her first cookbook, “Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home.”
Bauer said what separates her ice cream from the rest is her focus on using whole ingredients and dairy from grass-pastured cows. That means no synthetic flavors, dyes or additives. The process of making the ice cream is longer without them, but it also gives the ice cream a smooth texture and more depth of flavor.
In addition to the selections listed, Jeni’s signature flavors include darkest chocolate, salted peanut butter with chocolate flecks and salty caramel. The store will also offer dairy-free options such as dark chocolate truffle, new flavors such as skillet cinnamon roll and seasonal options.
For those who live within five miles of the store, pints of ice cream are available for delivery via third-party delivery services.
As with many businesses that make their way to the Lakewood Ranch and Sarasota area, Bauer said she was attracted to University Town Center because it is part of a busy and quickly developing area. She said despite the area’s size, UTC and the surrounding area have a strong community feel, and Jeni’s can become a part of it. She was also impressed by the size of her newest store, which was designed in tandem with architecture firm Gensler.
“I love the design of this shop so much,” Bauer said. “We don’t always have so much room to work with, but we took full advantage and loaded the shop with as much color and seating for gathering — when we can all do so again safely — as possible.”
The gathering aspect is especially important to note. Bauer views her stores as more than places people go to grab dessert. She views them as places where people can come together and feel like part of the community.
“Our shops are designed to be gathering spaces,” Bauer said. “We have a mix of built-in seating nooks, bistro tables and community tables. We also have a large chalkboard wall for kids to enjoy.”
The store also has a wall dedicated to artwork and a waffle station that can be seen from the storefront window to display for passersby. The cones are made fresh in-store. It took Bauer five years to hone her recipe for waffle mix, but it will take only a few minutes for customers to watch that mix become a cone before their eyes.
There’s one other aspect of owning a business Bauer takes seriously: environmental impact. Jeni’s uses compostable bowls, spoons and napkins, and 95% of the store’s products are reusable, recyclable or compostable.