Business

Doc Burnstein’s wants to be ‘No. 1’ ice cream brand in America

Greg Steinberger founded Doc Burnstein’s Ice Cream Lab in Arroyo Grande in 2003. “We want Doc Burnstein’s to be No. 1 in the hearts and minds of America. When they think of ice cream, we want them to think Doc Burnstein’s,” he said in 2017.
Greg Steinberger founded Doc Burnstein’s Ice Cream Lab in Arroyo Grande in 2003. “We want Doc Burnstein’s to be No. 1 in the hearts and minds of America. When they think of ice cream, we want them to think Doc Burnstein’s,” he said in 2017. dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

Doc Burnstein’s founder Greg Steinberger wants to take the ice cream company from a small-town business to a national brand.

“We want Doc Burnstein’s to be No. 1 in the hearts and minds of America,” he said. “When they think of ice cream, we want them to think Doc Burnstein’s.”

The company, founded in 2003, has taken some steps in that direction in recent years: Steinberger opened a new shop in San Luis Obispo in 2014, followed by a production facility in Grover Beach that allowed it to double the amount of ice cream it makes, and he signed some franchise agreements with other shops to sell the brand.

Still, the company has a long way to go before it hits Ben & Jerry’s status.

To move it along, the company is offering a second public stock option to help finance the company’s move into larger markets. Steinberger also is pursuing renovations at the trio of Doc Burnstein’s ice cream shops on the Central Coast to “enhance the Doc Burnstein’s experience,” he said.

The company first offered public shares in 2013. In that offering, it sold 8,000 shares valued at $50 per share, meaning the company earned $400,000 from the offering. To date, Doc Burnstein’s has about 390 community shareholders, Steinberger said.

The latest public share offering could help the company with a tight profit margin: Doc Burnstein’s brought in $2.5 million in revenue in 2016, up from $2.3 million the year before, according to its annual report. Of that, the company spent more than $2.4 million last year on operating costs and cost of goods, leaving it with a net income of $26,934. This is up from 2015, when the company’s net income was $21,023.

With the help of more community funding, Steinberger intends to break into the San Joaquin Valley market — opening stores where many people are already familiar with the Doc Burnstein’s name because they vacation on the Central Coast. He said he hopes eventually to expand throughout the state and nationwide.

Steinberger also has plans to renovate underutilized spaces at the Arroyo Grande, San Luis Obispo and Orcutt shops.

The shops will soon feature new ice cream “labs” that can be rented for private events where guests can create new ice cream flavors — think Dr. Frankenstein’s laboratory, with a sweet tooth. The interactive labs will fill the spaces previously used for ice cream production but have since been freed up by moving production to the company’s Grover Beach facility.

“We’re bringing the lab experience to more of an interactive experience,” Steinberger said. “We’re bringing in some Willy Wonka-esque images and materials that will make it feel like you’re immersed in a lab experience that is fun, interactive, and we’re actually going to invite people to come in and make custom flavors in our laboratory as an experience. It should be a lot of fun.”

Construction on the labs will take place over the next two to five months, he said, and is expected to cost between $30,000 and $40,000.

Kaytlyn Leslie: 805-781-7928, @kaytyleslie

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