In 1999, Justin and his family took a trip to Italy, where Justin fell in love with the smooth silkiness and intense flavor of gelato. He found himself returning to gelaterias day after day to savor the simple pleasure of good, honest food enjoyed at a charming outdoor café. The more gelaterias he visited and the more gelato he tasted, the more determined he grew to recreate this experience back home. This dream percolated for almost a year before serendipity struck: the space adjacent to our Petoskey store — on the edge of lovely Pennsylvania Park — became available. Nine months and thousands of reclaimed bricks later, American Spoon Café & Gelato opened, serving 24 flavors of authentic Italian gelato produced from the bounty of Michigan’s Northern Fruitlands.
Today the Café is beloved by both locals and visitors alike, and its reopening every Spring is an eagerly anticipated event. Although the Café itself still looks pretty deserted, behind the scenes there is a flurry of activity. We’re putting finishing touches on the menu and sending it to the printer, rearranging tables and chairs and, of course, making gelato.
If you’ve ever been in the Café, you’ve probably seen our gelataio Kim in the big glass room behind the counter. She comes in each morning — typically around 7:00 but sometimes as early as 3:30 — and begins mixing. It’s a lengthy process, but making gelato from scratch in small batches is the only way to make gelato that delivers what it promises: half the butterfat, half the air, and twice the flavor of industrial ice cream.
Consider our strawberry gelato. It’s made from with the same Early Glow Strawberries we use to make our Early Glow Strawberry Preserves, which results in the same sort of intoxicatingly fragrant and intensely flavorful strawberry experience. Each silky-smooth spoonful of gelato is packed with the authentic taste of summer strawberries, in a way that’s somehow rich and refreshing at the same time.
But you don’t have to take my word for it. The Café opens on April 30th. Stop by and enjoy a cup at one of our little tables overlooking the grassy green park, but first make sure you order my favorite Farm Egg Sandwich and a cup of coffee freshly roasted by our friends at Zingerman’s.
Gelato can also be shipped right to your doorstep, and we serve it at our Harbor Springs, Downtown Traverse City and Saugatuck stores as well.