Newmilns Food Festival – Putting the OO in Food!

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Newmilns is holding its first food festival and we’ll be there! Come along and sample local food and drink in the covered Marketplace, watch some fascinating demonstrations and bring the kids for a great family day out.

Organised by the Newmilns Regeneration Association and supported by local businesses, the Community Food Fund and Awards for All, this FREE to attend Food Festival will showcase the very best of local food and drink. Artisan produce will include: baked goods; locally produced meats; ice cream; cheese; spreads; jams and chutneys; sweet treats; craft beers and of course our range of fruit-infused liqueurs.

We’ll be there with a range of Scottish gin, whisky, rum and vodka fruit-infused liqueurs, mouthwatering coconut macaroon and heavenly homemade tablet. Come and sample them all at our Sugar & Spice stall in the covered Marketplace.

There will also be street stalls; children’s entertainment; cooking, craft beer and cocktail demonstrations; competitions and the Newmilns Bake Off. A fabulous day out!

The Festival will take place on Saturday 17th September 2016 from 11am at Jamieson Park, Newmilns.

Find all the details here – we are very excited to take part in this event and hope you can make it along!

 

4 Star Award by Visit Scotland

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We are delighted to announce that Visit Scotland has awarded us an amazing 4 stars in their Quality Assurance Scheme within the tourist shop sector.

Visit Scotland’s Quality Assurance scheme is a benchmark for quality across the tourism industry and operates across accommodation, visitor attractions and food sectors.

Once a business signs up to be part of the scheme, an assessor visits the shop unannounced and under the tourist shop category grades three main aspects of the business: pre-arrival; arrival; and attraction/presentation.  Under these headings they assessed our online presence, the exterior appearance and signage of the shop, the interior orientation, decor and layout, the range and presentation of products and the general appearance, attitude and efficiency of the staff.  

The feedback we got from the Visit Scotland Assessor was fantastic and we are over the moon with our Four Star rating!

Given that this Quality Assurance Scheme is recognised on an international level, we are honoured to be part of it and look forward to working more closely with Visit Scotland over the coming years.

Did you know?

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After last week’s blog about the start of the ice cream season and Geraldo’s 10th birthday I was sitting in my office this morning wondering what to write about next.  So I’ve decided to introduce a weekly (this may be wishful thinking on my part) blog called:

Did you know?

Haven’t a clue what its going to be about but I’m sure if I book myself in for a day spa at Cameron House this week the inspiration will come to me. (Now that’s definitely wishful thinking!)

Here goes for this week’s instalment…

Did you know that Monday is our usual day for stripping down our Mr Whippy ice cream machine?  The whole process takes about an hour or so, all the parts are sterilised and lubricated then the machine is filled again with fresh ice cream; Geraldo’s ice cream, of course, and we’re the only shop in Largs who puts fresh ice cream in our Mr Whippy machine.  Did you know it’s Gluten Free? And did you know we now have Gluten Free cones to serve it in?  Please tell your coeliac friends all about it and they’ll be your BFF!

 

Monday is also a day for stock orders and Bon Bons is usually first on my list.  Did you know we stock over 100 different flavours of traditional hand packed sweets from Bon Bons? They also supply us with their melt in the mouth fudge, giant chocolate slabs, gourmet mallows and gorgeous gift bags filled with retro sweets, cinder toffee and flying saucers.

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After a busy weekend with lots of visitors to Largs, did you know that the days following a busy period is when most small business owners like me start preparing for the next one?  After all the stock orders for the week ahead are done, there’s admin, banking, accounting, payroll, staff rotas, forward planning, website updates, marketing…..the list is long but if the business is going to be ready for the next instalment of good weather and lots of visitors, we have to be organised and prepared for it.

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Despite all of this, did you know Monday is my favourite day of the week?  I like it even more if I’ve had a busy weekend.  It’s a real shame for those of you who don’t enjoy, sorry LOVE, what you do, dread Monday mornings and the idea of going back to work.  For someone like me who, 15 years ago didn’t like the idea of starting a business in Largs one little bit, did you know I absolutely love it here.

Have a great week everyone and keep your fingers crossed for me that I manage that well-deserved spa day.  I’ll let you know next week!

Toni x

The story of Geraldo’s ice cream…

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My Dad, Gerald Dawson, aka Geraldo!

I guess most girls think of their Dad as handsome but I remember this picture in particular because I took it. He had a great sense of style, a fabulous smile and was always upbeat, outgoing and full of energy. That was before the recession of the 90’s kicked in and he lost everything, home included, after 35 years in business. My parents moved in with me and shortly afterwards he was diagnosed with bowel cancer. That was the beginning of a long hard struggle against ill health and trying to make a start again in business. Dad was absolutely determined to keep going no matter what.

I took the opportunity to start up myself in Largs operating a seasonal ice cream outlet near the CalMac ferry terminal. With a great deal of family support, Mum and Dad moved to Largs and whilst I accompanied Dad to hospital for ongoing treatment, Mum assisted me in the business. Two summer seasons later another shop came on the market directly opposite me. Dad was obviously feeling better around then and encouraged me to “go for it!”  After successfully securing the lease on the property, Sugar & Spice started up in March 2000.  With little more than a few £100 in cash to get going, I fitted out the shop with very basic kitchen units, hand painted them in bright candy pink stripes and tried to get really creative filling such a large space with well-packaged confectionery and holiday rock.

My Mum had always been in the ice cream business and started up ‘Caroline’s Ices’ in Ayr back in the early 60’s and I knew from the family’s previous business interests that I had to sell ice cream to make the business work long term.  Largs has a strong history of Italian ice cream families and the Nardini name is known all over the world.  Equipment is hugely expensive and there was no way I could afford to buy.  What chance did I have with so much going against me?  I decided to contact several suppliers to see who could loan me a display cabinet and supply me with good quality ice cream.  The Orkney Creamery was a family business like ours and their wonderfully creamy ice cream was just what I wanted.  It was a small cabinet to begin with, 8 flavours I recall, and situated inside the shop.  Knowing that ice cream is an impulse buy, I knew the cabinet had to be within eyesight of passing customers if it was going to work so after the first season I submitted a planning application to open up one of my front windows so that the ice cream could be served directly onto the street.  What a difference that made!  Three years on and the Orkney Creamery could no longer keep up with demand and they told me at the end of that summer they could no longer supply me.  It was a real blow at the time but sometimes you don’t realise that a seemingly bad situation is really an opportunity in disguise.

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Dad was hugely supportive but his health took a turn for the worse.  Mum and I continued to look after him at home with nurses, doctors and round the clock medication all part of the daily routine for several months.  I always remember him saying “Take control and go for it kiddo!”  So I did!

Mum and I enrolled in training courses with Carpigiani’s Gelato University, travelled to Hereford to study courses in recipe formulation and research ice cream making equipment and, within 6 months during the quieter winter season, I remortgaged my home, borrowed every penny I could on credit cards and set up my own production unit at the back of my shop.  It also happens to be the smallest production unit in Scotland but you’d be amazed at what comes out of it.

Dad was terminally ill at that point but was constantly asking how it was all going.  I contacted one of the best graphic designers I know, Derek Goodchild at Ocean Agency, and asked him to create a logo for my new ice cream brand.

My Dad was a very good footballer and won 5 caps for the Scottish Showmen’s International Football League.  He was spotted by a talent scout who wanted to sign him to play professionally for Preston North End.  Faced with choosing between this fantastic  opportunity and his commitment to the family business at that time my Dad decided to give up any notion of a professional career in football.  He continued to play for the SSIFL and everyone who played with him and against him likened him to one of the world’s best Brazilian football players at that time, Geraldo Jose da Silva.  Everyone knew my Dad as Geraldo and so…

Geraldo’s Luxury Ice Cream was born!

My newly branded cabinet was installed in the Spring of 2005 along with branded tubs, napkins and wafers and another ice cream season was upon us.  On Father’s Day 2005, I nipped home to check on Dad and tell him we’d just had a power cut and all my ice cream was melting in the middle of a busy, hot and sunny, Sunday afternoon.  Mum was in the shop giving it away. Why waste good ice cream and what a great marketing opportunity that turned out to be.  He settled back down, smiled and passed away later that night.

There’s not a day goes by when I don’t think of him and the inspiration that he was to me and every day the sun’s shining brightly in Largs there’s nowhere I would rather be than scooping and serving my award-winning ice cream to the visitors and hearing them say Geraldo’s is the best ice cream in Largs.

Incidentally, my Mum affectionately called my Dad Gerry Berry.  That’s now my signature flavour – Classic Vanilla rippled with Amarena Cherries soaked in Kirsch and Balsamic Vinegar.  Dad would’ve loved it!!

Gerald Dawson
1937 – 2005

Young at heart in Largs!

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My brother Maxwell met this lovely little lady in Largs today enjoying the sunshine during her visit to the seaside with her “shades” on.  It just goes to show how this fabulous weather brings out the best in everyone and creates smiles all round – especially if you have an ice cream in your hand!

Give us a visit if you’re in town and “show us your shades!”  OR visit us online