Category Archives: Customer Spotlight

Tamara Keefe’s Naughty & Nice Creamery Aims For the Sweet And Boozy In Artisanal Ice Cream Sector

June 3, 2019, By George Dunlap, A great article on a great lady who really enjoy’s making great tasting ice creams.  C. Nelson and I have had the pleasure to serve Tamara for many years with some really cool looking cabinets for her shops.  We wish Tamara all the best in her quest to offer  .. Boozy Artisan Ice Creams and more….to her customers.

Tamara Keefe’s Naughty & Nice Creamery Aims For the Sweet And Boozy In Artisanal Ice Cream Sector

Tamara Keefe's childhood memories of house-made ice cream led to leaving corporate life for a wholly owned store. Photo: Chris Bauer

Tamara Keefe’s childhood memories of house-made ice cream led to leaving corporate life for a wholly owned store. Photo: Chris Bauer

Tamara Keefe

Is there anything more American about the American Dream than opening your own ice cream shop? Especially when you’ve achieved what you thought was your dream in the corporate world?

That’s how it turned out for Tamara Keefe, 43, who left a job as senior brand manager for Abbott Nutrition’s $70 million Ensure Oncology business to open Clementine’s Naughty & Nice Creamery in St. Louis, Missouri. Now with three units, Keefe has already won several top awards for Best Ice Cream for flavors like Gooey Butter Cake, Salted Crack Caramel and Vegan Chocolate Coconut Fudge.

I interviewed Keefe about her decision to take the leap from the corporate safety net into artisanal ice cream making.

TK: I have been making ice cream my whole life.  When I was a child, ice cream entirely changed my sense of community and, therefore, sense of self. We grew up below the poverty line. After church on Sundays, the other families in our community would meet at the local ice cream parlor. I remember tugging on my mom’s dress, begging her for us to join them for ice cream, not knowing the financial burden a trip to the ice cream parlor would cause our family of seven. I can still feel the sting of loneliness from not being able to join the rest of our community.

Then one day, we stopped at a garage sale (that’s where we got our clothes), and my mom ran across an old hand-crank ice cream maker for $2, and decided it was going home with us. That was the day my life changed forever. We made ice cream together as a family and the sweetest tradition ensued.

Word of our amazing creations spread, and soon enough, rather than going out for ice cream, the church families began to gather at our house, with each family bringing a different ingredient. I went from social zero to hero! My whole sense of community changed, because of ice cream. All of a sudden, I had friends I’d never had before, was invited to parties and became popular. I discovered the power of ice cream and I didn’t even consciously know it.

By 2014 I was running a $70 million business, on the road all the time, commuting back and forth from St. Louis to Columbus, working 60-70-hour weeks, and successfully climbing the corporate ladder. Dream job, big company, big responsibilities, big salary—everything I thought I ever wanted, until I didn’t. Exhausted, unhappy, single, no kids, no family, and rarely seeing my friends, I was miserable. On a much-needed weekend away, one of my closest friends turned to me as I was ugly crying and said I should quit.  Bewildered, I asked, what would I do? My other girlfriend  commented, “You’re always complaining St. Louis doesn’t have great ice cream or  ice cream shops, and you are so happy when making ice cream, no one makes it better than you, so go do it.”

So that weekend, the four of us wrote my business and marketing plan, put together my financials and I resigned two weeks later. I figured, what was the worst thing that could happen? Yes, I could fail, but I was highly employable, and could go back. I had nothing to lose, except my pride and money. The rest is history. In early 2014 I attended “Ice Cream College” at Penn State.

I didn’t really set out to create something new in the market. I set out to create something better. Having worked in the food industry, I knew how large CPGs [Consumer Packaged Goods manufacturers] made an inferior product, and how they reformulate to cost cut, confuse and undermine consumers. I knew I didn’t want that. I wanted to do it based on my values, a different way, but a profitable way. I wanted to create a culture and appreciation of makers, bakers and creatives.

I had 20-plus years marketing experience, created and launched new products for CPG big brands, worked closely with sensory science, product development, packaging groups, food chemists, food scientists, spent lots of time in and around food manufacturing facilities, a Six-Sigma Green-belt, and I was acutely aware of food safety … and what it meant and the importance of doing things the right and safe way. It was the perfect storm so to speak. Oh, and I am a trained master taster.

Strict federal standards and controls require small-batch artisanal ice creams to be all natural. Photo: Chris Bauer

Strict federal standards and controls require small-batch artisanal ice creams to be all natural. Photo: Chris Bauer

Tamara Keefe

The Naughty component came to fruition as I was just starting out. A customer asked if I could infuse some rum into a flavor I had. I said it wasn’t possible. He kept after me, and it was seeping into my subconscious all the time, and I started to think, “How can I make this happen?” After all, I had had access to the best food scientists, chemists and product development people in the world. And I was familiar with lots of new and emerging technologies in food and how people were using them in creative ways. I gathered my closest friends and over a few bottles of wine, I started connecting the dots, experimenting until we homed in on some pretty innovative stuff. Once I realized we had something, I knew it was an opportunity and a really good one in a space where there’s been little innovation since the invention of Dippin’ Dots. So, I course- corrected, reassessed and off I went. I named my ice cream after a beloved friend of my grandmother, who was the most sophisticated woman I’d ever known.

Q: Describe what makes your ice creams different from others compared with national brands?

TK: Clementine’s Naughty & Nice Creamery is named around the two types of ice creams we make. Naughty (boozy) and Nice (non-boozy).  We have a trade-secret process for infusing alcohol into ice cream up to 18%. Our ice creams really are boozy. A few companies have tried to hang their hat on creating boozy ice cream, but they use such little amounts it’s not noticeable, or they use liquor flavors, or they cook it all off so it’s a bit misrepresented.

Additionally, we’re one of only a handful of micro-creameries in the country. There are qualifications you have to meet in order to be one. First, it has to be Small Batch  made in a real ice cream machine (batch freezer), not some large continuous mega-robotic machine that pumps thousands of gallons of product through in a few minutes that no one sees, or tastes, or quality checks. I like to say ours is made by real people with love, concern and care for the quality and the taste of the product.

Handcrafted also means that everything in the ice cream has to be hand crafted and made. If there’s a pie, cake or cookie in it, we make it, bake it and see it through. We salt our own caramel and candy our pecans. Or, for some flavors, we collaborate to support another local artisan maker and use their product in it.

All-Natural means the cream needs to be made using no artificial ingredients, and we are the onlyice cream maker in the state of Missouri that is all-natural.

A micro-creamery has to have less than 30% overrun, which is a technical term that describes the air whipped into the ice cream. Large commercial ice cream manufacturers and most local ice cream shops use 100% overrun, meaning that the pint you get at the store is actually only 50% ice cream; the rest is air. Ever had a cone that instantly melted? That’s a great example of 100% overrun. Big commercial brands and most ice cream shops do that to get more volume using less product.

Our ice cream is made with approximately 26-28% overrun, so when you taste our pint of any flavor and compare it to another, ours is heavier and denser.

Butterfat is the component in ice cream that gives it the richness in flavor, the creaminess or smooth texture, the body and the ability not to melt so fast. It coats your tongue and makes the flavor last and gives it that great creamy mouth feel. Additionally, it carries the other flavors in the ice cream so you can enjoy it longer, leaving you with a lingering aftertaste.  But it is very expensive, in contrast to using 10% butterfat, which is what big commercial manufacturers use. All of our ice creams have between 16-18% butterfat, which is why they are so decadent.

Q: Has the corporate take-over of brands like Häagen-Dazs compromised the original product?

TK:  Yes, corporate takeovers and now venture capital firms often do ruin the integrity of the product. They are so guided by making the most profit possible that they tinker with it little by little, and before you know it, a co-packer is making the product and it no longer is what it once was. It is completely different.

As for gelato, 99.995% of all U.S. gelato makers use a premade dry blended bag mix, chock full of artificial colors, flavors, fillers, emulsifiers, etc. It’s made start-to- finish in 25 minutes. Authentic gelato takes a long time and is much more expensive to make. Our ice cream takes three days to make one batch.

For the modern millennial consumer we are targeting, Häagen-Dazs exists as an iconic name with a tremendous marketing and sales legacy; however, in terms of a product that can excite the palate for flavor and mouth feel, it is no longer a benchmark.

Conventional wisdom in the CPG world, in general, and food industry specifically, would dictate that a corporate takeover of a brand like Häagen-Dazs is a good thing.  Size used to be one of the most important factors of success; however, e-commerce and direct-to-consumer brands have leveled the playing field, allowing smaller brands to reach consumers without needing to fight for limited shelf space or making large investments on their brand. Additionally, the millennial consumer has demanded a new level of transparency for the products that they put in and on their bodies. This transparency has been best met by on-line born or upstart brands that experience fast growth, which consumers view as having a more authentic story or healthier, fresher and more eco-friendly offerings.

For me a pint of ice cream will forever be a volume measure of 16 ounces. In January of 2009, Häagen-Dazs downsized the volume measure of its pint from 16 to 14 ounces, citing rising costs. That’s “customer betrayal” and I will never again buy a “pint” of Häagen-Dazs.

Q: Are there any Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau rules about booze in ice cream?

TK: Yes, as to content by volume, by weight and whether or not it is viewed as a beverage or food. Additionally, it depends if the manufacturer is looking for a drawback, meaning a tax refund on the alcohol purchased.

In the beginning, we sent all of our Naughty ice creams to the TTB for analysis at great expense and time. We worked with their team on our formulation and understanding of what and how the overrun and fat affect the alcohol by weight and volume. We had a liquor license in the beginning because we thought we had to, but ultimately the TTB decided our ice cream was a food and not a beverage, and we did not make shakes in our stores, which by nature changes the form into a beverage. From the start, based on my own values, I chose not to sample or serve anyone under the age of 21. This practice continues in all our stores, even though technically we don’t have to. The silver lining is that it has worked as a great marketing tool as well, because now young adults look forward to sharing their “21st” with us so they can try and indulge in Clementine’s boozy ice cream.

Q: Explain: All of the milk Clementine’s uses is from local, grass-fed, pasture-raised, hormone- and RBST-free cows.

TK: We work with small dairy farmers who choose to raise herds differently than their big commercial counterparts. By using dairy from local, grass-fed, pasture-raised, hormone and RBST-free cows you’re starting with the purest, most unadulterated, best tasting, non-altered, fresh dairy you can imagine. As a result, our base dairy is so much cleaner, richer, creamier. Its healthier, tastes better, it benefits the cows, and our environment.

Q:  How did you round up investment? Are you wholly privately owned?

TK: I am completely self-funded and solely owned by me. I’ve invested almost 500k to date from my personal savings, cashed out my 401k, and continue to grow from profits. As we look more to capitalize on our momentum and take advantage of the market opportunity, we will be considering smart outside investment that can help take us to the next level in becoming a national brand.

Marketing skills and access to food scientists eased the way to open Clementine's. Photo: Chris Bauer

Marketing skills and access to food scientists eased the way to open Clementine’s. Photo: Chris Bauer

Tamara Keefe

Q:  Is the market for new ice creams in America limitless?  What are your current overall U.S. sales?

TK: In America, there is never a barrier for an excellent product that delivers on its promise. Ice cream is a $14 billion market. But overall consumption in the U.S. is declining. On the flip side, the craft segment keeps growing.  I believe consumers are reveling in all the newcomers and their inventive market niches. Their entry into the market have stimulated growth, motivated excellence and differentiation, and better products are being produced, especially in niche markets like vegan, low-carb and micro-creamery, which are taking market share fast from the big brands.

As long as the artisan ice cream business continues to deliver to customers what they crave—the flavors, ingredients and experiences underrepresented in the hyper consolidated ice cream market—then there is no limit to its growth.

Keefe has plans to expand slowly but thinks she can maintain quality on a national scale.  Photo: Chris Bauer

Keefe has plans to expand slowly but thinks she can maintain quality on a national scale.  Photo: Chris Bauer

Tamara Keefe

I opened my first shop in May 2015, second in July of 2017, and my third this month in May 2019, with our fourth coming along in July. Our sales are around $2 million to date. My initial goal is to do $10 million in revenue from 12 shops, and an entry into grocery channel within five years, with the ultimate goal of $50 million, 50 shops, grocery and online expansion in 10 years.  That is, unless another opportunity comes our way that is better than I have charted for us now.

Q:  But won’t expansion nationally compromise what is now a small artisanal company?

TK: For us, no; we will be better than we are now. At the moment, we have different expansion plans and have seen one other artisanal ice cream maker on the West Coast whom we respect a lot expand the way we are planning to. Their values mirror ours. They are choosing to expand mindfully and authentically. The end result will be a national presence without compromising the best parts of being small.  I can’t wait to see how high is “high”!

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Cedar Crest Ice Cream keeps it old school | 2018-02-01 | Dairy Foods

Another great customer of C. Nelson Mfg., Co. ice cream dip cabinets.

Cedar Crest Ice Cream keeps it old school The family-owned company prides itself on its small-batch ice cream making, premium quality and variety of flavors. prev next February 1, 2018 Sarah M. Kennedy KEYWORDS ice cream news / ice cream processor / ice cream products Reprints 0 24 One Comment The four brothers who make up the ownership of Cedar Crest Ice Cream — Ken, Robert, Bill and Tim Kohlwey — all agree that their company may not be the biggest….

 

Source: Cedar Crest Ice Cream keeps it old school | 2018-02-01 | Dairy Foods

Chaney’s Dairy Barn – Carl Chaney talks about the journey – Episode 12

I had the pleasure to meet Debra & Carl Chaney, the summer of 2003, before they opened their shop, I had the pleasure to work with the Chaney’s on their recipes and flavorings for their great tasting homemade ice creams.

This is the story as told by Carl Chaney,  “if you are welling to get up early and stay up late you too can enjoy the fruits of your hard work”.

This is a story about an American dream by a hard working family from Bowling Green, KY.

May I introduce to you Carl Chaney.

The Solar Eclipse at Chaney’s Dairy Barn

 

NICRA Join today!

NICRA, National Ice Cream Retailers Association

 

Ice cream alert! Humphry Slocombe just opened in Oakland

ice cream alert! Humphry Slocombe just opened in OaklandHumphry Slocombe, the far-out-popular ice-cream company with strange-sounding names, just opened a “parlor” in a shipping container in Oakland. (Courtesy Humphry Slocombe)Humphry Slocombe, the far-out-popular ice-cream company with strange-sounding names, just opened a “parlor” in a shipping container in Oakland. (Courtesy Humphry Slocombe)By Angela Hill | ahill@bayareanewsgroup.com | Bay Area News GroupPUBLISHED: September 11, 2017 at 1:00 pm | UPDATED: September 11, 2017 at 4:46 pmAt least the recent hot weather in the Bay Area served up a sweet silver lining: a screaming desire for ice cream.And that desire has been fulfilled, especially for the cult followers of Humphry Slocombe’s.For more food and drink coveragefollow us on Flipboard.The SF-based ice cream company, founded by Jake Godby and Sean Vahey in 2008 and known for its wild and wacky flavors (like Hibiscus Beet Sorbet, Elvis: The Fat Years and Here’s Your Damn Strawberry), opened its first East Bay site in Oakland a couple of weeks ago. Mmmm, “First East Bay Site.” That could be one of their flavors!The new Humphry Slocombe can be found at The Hive in Oakland’s Uptown district, a shopping/gathering space that’s already home to hip spots like Drake’s Dealership brewery and Firebrand Artisan Breads.And you can’t miss Humphry Slocombe. For one, there’s probably a huge, long line. Plus, the ice cream stand is in an electric-blue shipping container, just across from Peoples Barber & Shop.They do indeed plan Oakland-centric flavors, like Oatlandish — a combo of Drake’s stout and oatmeal cookie.Like the Oakland Tribune Facebook page for more conversation and news coverage from Oakland and beyond.Humphry Slocombe is at 2335 Broadway (between 24th and 25th streets), Oakland; open 1 to 11 p.m. Monday-Thursday, noon to midnight Friday-Saturday and noon to 10 p.m. Sunday; www.humphryslocombe.com.

Source: Ice cream alert! Humphry Slocombe just opened in Oakland

 

Another satisfied C. Nelson customer.

Freddy Simon of Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers

Customer Spot light.

We at C. Nelson are happy to be a supplier to Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers.

 

KAKE.com | Wichita, Kansas News, Weather, Sports

 

Designed for Freddy's Frozen Custard by C. Nelson Mfg., CO.

Designed for Freddy’s Frozen Custard by C. Nelson Mfg., CO.

C. Nelson provides specialty and customized freezers to the Freddy’s operations.  C. Nelson can design and support your world-wide business model.  Call today.  419-898-3305 X204

A Local Choice: Ice Cream Dreams Velvet Ice Cream

BY: George Dunlap,  C. Nelson and I have had the pleasure to work with the Dager family, owners of Velvet Ice Cream, for over 30 years. We have supplied their ice cream dipping cabinet needs for the Ye Olde Mill as well as for their many scoop shop customers.  The attached blog post from Nicole at A Local Choice tells a great story of, an Ohio business owned by an Ohio family, the Dager family and their great tasting ice cream.  Enjoy the read and enjoy a day trip to Utica, Ohio for a visit to the Ye Olde Mill and when you are there enjoy a scoop of their great tasting ice cream.

A Local Choice Thursday, September 1, 2016 Ice Cream Dreams Velvet Ice Cream

Recently my nephew, a self-proclaimed expert in the field of ice cream, accompanied me on a trip to historic Ye Olde Mill and the Velvet Ice Cream facility in Utica, Ohio. A short drive northeast of Columbus lands you at this 26 acre property where you can not only view your favorite ice cream flavors being made right before your very eyes, but after you work up an appetite touring the scenic grounds and learning the deep rooted history of the company, you can visit the full service restaurant and adjacent ice cream parlor where you are encouraged to eat your dessert first.

My visit began by meeting with a member of the Velvet marketing team, whose job comes with the most delicious of perks – free ice cream! As the story behind one of the oldest family owned

(above the newly designed can holding kit by C. Nelson Mfg., Co.)

and operated ice cream companies in the country was shared, my mind began to fill with thoughts of towering scoops of Raspberry Fudge Cordial, Buckeye Classic, Mint Chocolate Chip, and Cookie Dough Extreme. In 1903 founder Joseph Dager emigrated through Ellis Island from Lebanon in search of the American dream. As other family members went to work in the Cleveland steel mills, Dager realized the city life wasn’t exactly what he had in mind, instead meeting up with a relative who was making chocolates in the rural city of Utica. Dager decided to focus his future on something much sweeter 1914 Velvet Ice Cream began offering the first of what would grow to be a myriad of flavors – Original Vanilla. With a company name derived from the velvety texture of their product, Dager soon expanded Velvet’s flavors to include chocolate and strawberry, as well as producing their own ice to combat a lack of refrigeration. As the years passed, the 2nd and 3rd generation of Dagers grew the business beyond the state of Ohio. In the 1960s, the family purchased the current property including the original grist and lumber mill which date back to 1817! Two centuries ago, the old mill used the power of the Licking River to turn its massive wheel in order to grind wheat into flour and later cut lumber. Although the mill is no longer operational its photogenic appeal adds to the charm of the property.

Source: A Local Choice: Ice Cream Dreams

Clementine’s Naughty and Nice Creamery: October customer spotlight

Clementine’s Naughty and Nice Creamery, St. Louis, MO, Customer spotlight October 2015

I had the pleasure to meet Clementine’s Naughty and Nice Creamery owner, Tamara Keefe, at the NICRA 2014 show in Lexington, KY. Tamara and I talked about the challenges of opening a new business let alone an ice cream shop.  She was looking for quality ice cream dipping cabinets that would display her great tasting handcrafted ice creams.

She purchased several C. Nelson  Curved-Glass ice cream dipping cabinets.

http://www.riverfronttimes.com/foodblog/2015/10/02/clementines-creamery-honored-by-yelp-for-online-savvy

Check out Clementine’s Facebook page and see how she is marketing her brand.  Tamara’s passion and her quality ice creams set her about from the crowd. I can’t wait to try the whiskey and cream flights…..

Whiskey and Cream Flights

Gamlin Whiskey House is taking whiskey and ice cream to new heights with Boozy Ice Cream Flights. Creations from Clementine’s Naughty & Nice Creamery are paired with 1-ounce pours of Gamlin’s top-shelf whiskeys, including Rally Point Rye from St. Louis-based Still 630.

Clementine's Creamery dipping cabients by C. Nelson.

Clementine’s Creamery ice cream dipping cabinets by C. Nelson.