Sub-zero scoops — SLO's newest ice cream shop uses liquid nitrogen

An ice cream shop without a freezer? It can be done.

New San Luis Obispo business Nite Creamery— owned by 25-year-old Nino Eng and his 26-year-old wife, Cheryl Eng — freezes its ice cream using liquid nitrogen.

Since its grand opening on May 26, the parlor, which is open between 3 p.m. and 10:30 p.m., has been steadily busy, Nino Eng said.

During peak night hours, customers have formed lines out the door and into the courtyard at the newly remodeled Creamery complex at 570 Higuera St. Suite 103. Other Creamery tenants include Foremost Wine Co. and the expanded Spike's Pub.

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Nite Creamery ice cream shop is located in the Creamery in downtown San Luis Obispo. Joe Johnston

Eng said using liquid nitrogen, a colorless clear liquid that freezes foods in a matter of seconds, gives Nite Creamery's ice cream a thicker, creamier taste while avoiding freezer burn or a grainy texture.

"We don't have ice crystals, and so for two scoops of regular ice cream, you can get the same amount of actual ice cream in one scoop of our version," Eng said.

Nite Creamery makes waffle cones from scratch and offers original flavor combinations such as pineapple picante and salted caramel crunch. The most popular of 10 menu options is the Central Coast Crunch, which features vanilla ice cream with brownie bits, praline almonds and caramel, Eng said.

The San Luis Obispo store is the couple's second Nite Creamery location. The first opened in Santa Maria in December 2017.

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Charisma Baxter injects liquid nitrogen into a milk base as she makes an ice cream creation at the Nite Creamery ice cream shop in San Luis Obispo. Joe Johnston

Eng, who is from Long Beach, said he and his wife, a Santa Maria native, discovered that local dining options were limited at night compared to what's available in Los Angeles.

The Engs decided to pool together their savings, quit their jobs in tax services and insurance and start Nite Creamery.

After the Santa Maria business opened, Creamery complex owner Damien Mavis of CoVelop, Inc., approached the Engs about opening a shop in the Creamery.

"He saw what we were doing and saw our photos on Instagram and said he’d love to have us in the Creamery," Nino Eng said.

Eng declined to reveal the cost of leasing space in the Creamery, but said it's less expensive than other locations they looked at in downtown San Luis Obispo. Nite Creamery on a five-year lease agreement.

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Nino and Cheryl Eng are the owners of Nite Creamery in San Luis Obispo and Santa Maria. Joe Johnston

"We want to expand throughout the whole Central Coast and California," said Eng, who travels daily with his wife to both Nite Creamery locations. "We're looking at Paso Robles or Santa Barbara for our next location."

Nite is the second ice cream shop to open in downtown San Luis Obispo in recent months with a different approach to making dessert.

Rolld opened May 12 at 785A Marsh St., a space formerly occupied by Subway sandwiches and Ubatuba Acai.

Using a practice common in Thailand, Rolld spreads a liquid base and toppings on a frozen plate, where the mixture solidifies. The ice cream is then cut and curled into rolls.