Follow-Up File: Business is sweet for Fruit Freeze

Name: Dean Giordano

Job: Owner

Organization: Giordano’s Fruit Freeze

What he said then: In April 2009, The Tribune reported that Giordano’s Fruit Freeze ended its first year with a move from Morro Street to Broad Street.

The San Luis Obispo shop serves Italian-style icy snacks, handmade by Giordano with fresh fruit or chocolate.

“I couldn’t ask for a better location,” said Giordano, who’d also recently acquired wholesale accounts with Cal Poly grocery stores and New Frontiers Natural Marketplace.

In the new store, he added sandwiches and hot chocolate.

What he says now: The Broad Street location offers better visibility, especially during Thursday night Farmers Markets.

The move gave Giordano a chance to revamp the image and logo. His store features a freezer modeled after the cart his great-grandfather used to sell ice cream.

Sales in his second year were about double the first year, Giordano said.

Many customers ask about franchise opportunities.

“The wholesale’s really what I’m trying to build,” Giordano said. “That’s what’s building the name-brand recognition.”

He’s using the slower winter months to pursue new accounts. His all-natural freezes are now also sold at Spencer’s Fresh Market in San Luis Obispo and De Palo & Sons in Shell Beach.

He hopes to expand to all five Spencer’s locations. Other potential customers are Cuesta College, Scolari’s Food & Drug Co. and Kennedy Club Fitness.

Giordano heard from customers that flavors such as pineapple mix well with flavored rum. He has supplied freeze to mix with alcohol for special events.

He hopes to have a liquor license by summer to serve such icy concoctions in his own shop. He may also offer pre-mixed beverages to local bars.

To test the coffee shop market, he placed a freezer of his products in Joe Momma’s Coffee in Avila Beach late last summer. Eventually, he envisions replicas of his old-style cart-freezers in cafés throughout the county.

But he worries about expanding too fast.

“I don’t want to jump the gun too soon,” said Giordano, who has two part-time employees. “I didn’t plan for the wholesale side to take off as quickly as it did.”

To capitalize on popular flavors with a short peak season, such as blood orange, he’ll buy more during harvest and freeze the juice to last all summer.

“Blood orange is hands-down the best seller. Once it’s in, it goes really quick,” he said. “When you’re dealing with the fresh fruits, it’s tough to control quality.”

Food items like sandwiches haven’t taken off, but the hot cocoa — crafted from Ghirardelli chocolate — has seen consistent sales all winter.

“That’s been staying really steady,” Giordano said. “We go through a few gallons on Farmers Market night.”

— Raven J. Railey