The wagon set up on the streets of the Mission back in 2009 is poised to return early summer of 2016 as a full-grown ice cream shop.
Robyn Sue Fisher, fresh from Stanford with an MBA, began Smitten Ice Cream by selling frozen treats in the Mission district out of a Radio Flyer®. Since then, she has opened shops in Hayes Valley and Pacific Heights in San Francisco; Lafayette; Los Altos; Rockridge in Oakland; and The Point in Sepulveda. Now, she plans to combine two storefronts at 904 and 908 Valencia.
“It’s really core to our opening,” she said of the Mission. The community supported her business when she was “broke and just wanted to get [her] food out there” so she is thrilled to return.
Fisher hopes to showcase the homemade and often local ingredients at her new place, as Smitten is immensely “obsessive about our ingredients.” It is this commitment to quality ingredients, she said, that means “we fit right into that family” of businesses on Valencia that deeply care about their products.
By combining two storefronts, Fisher hopes to make “a true gathering spot” that is warm, welcoming, and vibrant rather than a grab-and-go.
Fisher views her ice cream as the meeting of old and new. “A lot of the time, technology makes food less food,” she complained. She set out to make delicious ice cream without the high-tech ingredients that extend ice cream’s shelf life. The result was Brrr™, a patented ice cream machine that relies on liquid nitrogen.
The latter freezes at extremely low temperatures, resulting in tiny ice crystals and smoother, denser, ice cream. Because the new-fangled Brrr™ can churn out ice cream in just minutes, Fisher can make old-fashioned ice cream to order without “all the yuckiness that technology brings.”
Although she emphasized that Smitten’s focus is on making the best ice cream, she has a few other ideas for the new opening because, as a startup, “It’s fun to play a little now and then.”
She also has plans to exhibit the story of Smitten Ice Cream, including photos and a display of the original wagon she used to set up near the Mission Pool. “It’s really core to our opening,” she said of the district. Just as Brrr™ returns to an old product through new technology, Fisher returns to her old district through a new ice cream shop. Of the opening in the Mission, she said, “I always dreamed I could come full circle.”
For a blog that largely covers gentrification woes in the Mission, it’s odd that Mission Local would promote Smitten Ice Cream, where a small scoop costs $5, without even mentioning Xanath, half a block away, where a small scoop of the creamiest, most delicious ice cream you could imagine costs only $3. Talk about the woes of gentrification….
Why is the Smitten owner acting like that block doesn’t already have a great ice cream place? I think it’s rather un-neighborly to put your shop right on the same block as if your neighbor didn’t exist. And as if there aren’t any ‘true gathering spots’ on the block that have stood for much longer than 2009! These newcomers seem desperate to fit in but don’t seem to have any concept of community. Sad.