Mission’s 12th ice cream shop offers gelato on wheels

Photo by Lola M. Chavez

Coletta Gelato’s Antonio Massimini and Henri Waltenspuhl have parked their custom-made gelato bike cart in the entrance to Harrington Galleries at Valencia and 17th, bringing the total count of ice cream stores in the Mission to a whopping 12.

It’s one of several pop-up shops that will make appearances at the furniture store this summer, except, Massimini said, Coletta Gelato will stay permanently. They plan to get some seating and a sign above the entrance to the gallery that will read “Let’s Spoon.”

Coletta began serving ice cream this afternoon from the Coletta Cruiser, an Italian-made, bright white bike cart with an orange awning, a little sink and a freezer that can hold up to eight gelato flavors. Massimini said they plan to switch those flavors up regularly and are open to suggestions. Particularly tasty this afternoon were the rosemary-infused and guava flavors.)

Waltenspuhl and Massimini fell in love with Italian gelato while they were in business school in Milan. In 2015, after a visit to a gelato producer as part of their program, they decided they wanted to enter the trade and enrolled in the Carpigiani Gelato University in Bologna.

Antonio Massimini and Henri Waltenspuhl, owners of Colleta Gelato. Photo by Lola M. Chavez

They opened their first shop in January in SoMa. They had done their homework, and their market research told them San Francisco was the place to go. The Harrington pop-up is their second location.

Ice cream seems to do really well in the neighborhood. Businesses keep opening up and often have lines out the door. Coletta Gelato’s first afternoon drew a small crowd as well.

Massimini had a few theories about why ice cream is so popular in the Mission.

First, he thinks, San Francisco is a food-centric city. He said people care about eating well. On the producer’s end, it’s easy to get the fresh cream, fruit, and milk they need.

The Mission specifically is a good spot because there are a lot of restaurants, Massimini said. He thinks people like eating a meal and then getting ice cream afterward. It’s also a very walkable neighborhood, and ice cream goes well with walking.

Plus, there’s the weather. In terms of sunshine, the Mission beats most other San Francisco neighborhoods.

“Microclimates, right?” Massimini said.

Colleta Gelato will be open from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays at 599 Valencia Street, San Francisco. 

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