Business Overview

Gelato started getting more attention in the late 1990s and really started to pick up steam in the early 2000s. It falls under the $14.3 billion a year ice cream industry, and recently experienced an uptick in sales. There is a distinct market trend showing customers want to pay more for premium ice cream treats like gelato.

Who is this business right for?

Gelato started getting more attention in the late 1990s and really started to pick up steam in the early 2000s. It falls under the $14.3 billion a year ice cream industry, and recently experienced an uptick in sales. There is a distinct market trend showing customers want to pay more for premium ice cream treats like gelato.

What happens during a typical day at a gelato business?

Owners must hire the right staff, advertise their business, and find the best location to attract hungry crowds. A typical day may have the following to-do list:

  • Order supplies
  • Create a budget
  • Perform hands-on customer service
  • Schedule employee shifts
  • Commission work for the company website
  • Respond to customer concerns on feedback sites like Yelp
  • Ensure all food and beverages are being made responsibly and up to company standards

Ordering must anticipate higher volumes of customers without wasting too much product. To a certain extent, an owner may be able to distance themselves from the actual production of the gelato, but it helps to have a full understanding of all sides of the business.

What is the target market?

Owners need to attract a crowd who is willing to pay for a premium experience when they want a fast but delicious dessert. The ideal customer would be someone who lives near the store who will consistently look to your business as their go-to for quality treats. You may also want to attract those who primarily want a coffee shop, but with a bit of a twist.

How does a gelato business make money?

A gelato bar serves Italian-style ice cream to paying clients in a variety of forms (e.g., in shakes, cones, cups, etc.) Gelato bars may also offer other products, such as specialty coffee.

As owner, you will need to account for location costs (rent, inflation, etc.), employee salaries, and the cost of ingredients. They will then have to determine a price for each individual menu item that will cover these costs and allow for a profit. It is not recommended that a gelato bar try for a budget angle due to the cost and effort to make the products.

What is the growth potential for a gelato business?

From 2013 to 2014, the amount of people purchasing gelato increased by 247%, and has achieved modest gains since then. The amount of gelato purchased in stores and from neighborhood businesses is predicted to remain strong, however the overall trends do not necessarily point to growth spikes as high as were seen a few years ago.

The most successful shops are rooted in innovative flavors (e.g., toast and jam, olive oil) and standard dessert menu items (e.g., cakes, pies, specialty sundaes.) Gelato bars are most likely to do well in large cities where residents are always looking for a little novelty. As long as the business can change with the times, there should be plenty of room for growth.