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Siesta Key Thursday, Nov. 7, 2019 8 months ago

What's the scoop: Siesta Key gets new creamery

Veteran ice cream shop owner opens store in Siesta Key South Village.
by: Whitney Elfstrom Staff Writer

A new ice cream shop with old Sarasota roots just opened on Siesta Key.

Siesta Key Creamery is owned and operated by Dennis and Nancy Yoder, who opened Big Olaf Creamery in 1982 before it switched hands in 1990.

Andy Graber, Dennis and Nancy Yoder's grandson, was the original poster child for Big Olaf's Creamery.

First getting into the ice cream business in their 40s, the Yoders are now in their 80s.

“The only reason that we would take another adventure at our age is because of the quality of the product,” Nancy Yoder said. “Over all these years, we have been so pleased that Dennis created a great product.”

Dennis Yoder is keeping some of his trademark moves from when he owned the popular Sarasota ice cream chain, such as proudly displaying his grandchildren — and great-grandchildren — on the shop’s walls and making ice cream from scratch.

The shop will have 24 flavors, ranging from the typical chocolate, strawberry and vanilla to pina colada and Kahlua crunch, which Yoder created for his wife in 1985. 

The shop plans to keep the ice cream ingredients as fresh and organic as possible, Yoder said.

Churned on location, each batch is made in small quantities with a batch freeze and takes about two days to make.

Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream is one of the many homemade flavors offered by Siesta Key Creamery.

First he adds the ice cream base ingredients to the batch freezer, which he said begins to harden after a few minutes. 

Two minutes before he removes the base, he adds in flavors, such as strawberries, chocolate chips and pecans.

Yoder said it takes about eight minutes for the mixture to harden, and afterward he moves it to a hardening cabinet, where it stays for 24 hours. 

The final step is to place the final product in a different freezing cabinet that gets the ice cream ready to be scooped.

The shop also features baked goods, such as apple fritters, doughnuts and cinnamon rolls from Der Dutchman and an espresso bar with specialty lattes and smoothies.

In and out of the ice cream business for nearly 40 years, Yoder first found himself learning about the industry during a 1982 golf tournament in eastern Michigan.

It was there that one of his friends told him about the handmade waffle cones that first intrigued Yoder.

As an insurance dealer, Yoder said he wasn’t looking for a new business venture, but as soon as he heard the waffle cones were related to ice cream, he was in because, well, he loves ice cream.

Dennis Yoder's grandchildren and great grandchildren are the poster children for Siesta Key Creamery.

From there he was off to San Diego, where he learned how to make waffle cones though Royal Copenhagen Cone Co. from Denmark before bringing the recipe back to Florida, where he went on to teach Busch Gardens and SeaWorld how to make the cone.

Over the next 10 years, the Yoders opened five stores throughout Sarasota with locations in Siesta Key and St. Armands Circle before selling each store individually in 1990.

The new shop marks the third time the Yoders have entered the ice cream business, the second being in 2009 when they opened a Lakewood Ranch location before selling it two years later.

For Yoder, what he’s most excited about when it comes to getting back in the business is creating a family-friendly environment while giving residents a place to hang out on Siesta Key South Village.

“Maybe third time’s the charm,” Yoder said. “I like the idea of a good atmosphere to surround people. I love people, and when they come for dessert, they’re always in a good mood.”

“It’s a treat-yourself product,” Nancy Yoder added.

I’m the Sarasota community reporter, which means I cover the people, places and things of Sarasota. I graduated from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg with a degree in journalism and digital communication and a minor in English. 

See All Articles by Whitney

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