There's a promising newcomer entering the East Bay ice cream scene: Curbside Creamery plans to start scooping from its new space in Oakland's Temescal Alley this fall. In the meantime, you may spot owner Tori Wentworth rolling through the streets this summer on her unique vending trike making deliveries, popping up at local farmers' markets or serving up her sweet treats at special events.
I met Tori through the Bay Area cycling community, so it's no surprise she's launching her new venture through pedal-powered means. She recently graduated from UC Berkeley two years ago with a degree in philosophy, but eschewed academia and jumped onto the entrepreneurial track right after college.
"I decided somewhere along the way that I wanted to start a business of some kind. It runs in my family--my dad and grandfather were both business owners, as well as a bunch of my extended family. On a trip to NYC, I went with a friend to an all-vegan, cashew-based ice cream place in Manhattan called Lula's Sweet Apothecary. It was delicious, cool, cute and offered soft serve -- which I loved. I thought the [Bay Area] could really use a shop like that, [which offered] such solid vegan ice cream. So the day after graduating college, I started developing my own cashew milk-based recipes. There wasn't much info out there on the subject at all, so I more or less started from scratch. Later on when my recipes were solid, I decided to venture into dairy as well, which was fun and easy after all the work I'd already put in."
The East Bay is already chock-full of delicious ice cream offerings, such as Ici, Scream Sorbet, Tara's Organic, Tucker's, CREAM and the venerable Fenton's in Piedmont among many others. How will Curbside Creamery stand out?
"I suppose the first big difference is going to be quality and sheer amount of my vegan, dairy-free offerings--I can make all my flavors either way and plan to rotate through a full range in the shop. And it's not sorbet style. It really delivers the flavors and texture like a cream base. Secondly, my goal is to offer the quality level of the new, artisan ice cream shops combined with the experience of a hometown-style shop. I've focused on creating the most amazing versions of classic flavors people love rather than focusing on creating flavors they've never seen before. I want you to feel nostalgic, to get jimmy sprinkles if you want, to bring along the kids or hang out with friends. Ice cream is all about enjoyment and fun, after all. Or at least it should be! The plan is for the front of my shop to be able to open up nearly all the way across, so on warm days it has an airy beach boardwalk feel. I think we were able to capture this in the look of my logo. The font was based off of the sign for an old saltwater taffy shop."
Tori's churning out her ice cream from her home kitchen for now, but she'll be moving production to the Uptown Kitchen in Oakland in the near future. She sources her dairy products from Straus, and several other ingredients come from local companies. Bicycle Coffee and Verve are two suppliers for her coffee-flavored confections (and she'll probably rotate companies on a regular basis), while her cookies and dough are provided by the Little Ladybug Bakery.
Tori's currently in the most challenging phase of Curbside Creamery's ongoing development: raising funds for equipment and renovating her future space in Temescal Alley.
"The shop is going to take a huge investment of time and money--construction, equipment, permits, inventory, etc. So I'm focusing on securing the money I need, and that means applying for bank loans and [promoting] my Kickstarter campaign. I'm setting my fundraising goal at $20,000, which is the price of the commercial ice cream maker I need. Since it's the literal and figurative backbone of my business--it will produce every bit of ice cream I sell--I thought it would be a good, clear goal to push for. If all goes well with Kickstarter and with the loan, I hope to start construction within the next two months, and to get the doors open in the fall. Right now the unit in Temescal Alley is a completely gutted space, so it's going to take time to get everything into place. But it's a beautiful little space with a high ceiling, and I couldn't ask for a more awesome spot than the Alley. I'm super excited about it."