Born four years ago out of a kitchen corner and sold around Penn, Weckerly’s Ice Cream now plans to open its own storefront in Fishtown this December.
Weckerly’s, founded by pastry chef couple Jen and Andy Satinsky, is a local microcreamery that specializes in small-batch French-style ice cream and is particularly known for its ice cream sandwiches. Its roots are close to Penn — starting in the kitchen of the Green Line Cafe on the corner of 43rd Street and Baltimore Avenue. Its products have been sold at Gourmet Grocer and Metropolitan Bakery. Their process of making ice cream, from sourcing to churning to selling, reflects mindfulness towards the ethics of consumption and production.
In 2012, with what little they had in savings and experience as, respectively, a kitchen manager and bike shop manager, Jen and Andy decided to tackle their goal of making their own ice cream.
“We were originally thinking, ‘Oh we’ll have an ice cream shop,’ then asking how could we do this with the money we’ve saved and still working full time jobs so that we don’t go broke,” Andy said. “The way that ended up being is finding a business to partner with.”
In the beginning, they partnered with Green Line to make single batches. At that point, they started looking for retailers by offering free samples, hoping that stores would be interested in stocking their product.
“Initially, it was a lot of pounding the pavement. Luckily with ice cream, unlike some products, you can go in and be like ‘Hey I don’t mean to bother you but we make this ice cream and here is some ... give us a call if you like it,’” Andy said.
Eventually, facing issues with storage and organization, they moved into the old dye laboratory of the Globe Dye Works in the Frankford section of North Philadelphia, an old converted dye plant that now rents space to art and photo studios and other businesses.
“Having everything in one place is amazing, it made everything so much more efficient,” Andy said. “When we were at the Green Line we had a corner of the kitchen, which was a great way to start but [after starting the work day] only three hours later we could start making ice cream.”
After moving into the laboratory space and buying new machines with a credit union loan last winter, Weckerly’s started making a name for itself. Selling scoops and sandwiches outside the Barnes Foundation, local festivals and farmer’s markets, Weckerly’s started to develop a following.
The central appeal was the ice cream sandwich, which draws in gourmands with the novel appeal of scratch cookies and ice cream.
Initially hesitant of big expenditures, the two decided to hire a graphic designer to create a cohesive brand for their ice cream. By branding, they sawa way to further market their product and maintain sales in the winter, when demand drops by 75 percent, they said.
“We’re in a place now and sometimes people will reach out,” Andy said. “They’re just too far away or we already have a lot in that area.”
Their relationships with the farmers who provide their ingredients is most central to the Weckerly’s identity. Although their sugar and flour mostly comes from distributors, their cream, eggs, special ingredients and herbs all come from nearby farms that practice sustainable farming. Relationships flower, as at every step in production a personable interaction occurs between farmers and creamery.
“It was also a really personal endeavor and one of the things that I think makes it fulfilling is knowing the human element behind the core ingredients of what we make,” Andy said.
Weckerly’s has come a long way since its humble beginnings and learned from the growing pains of cultivating an entrepreneurial dream. From starting in the Green Line Cafe to being crowned in 2014 by Philadelphia Magazine as Philly’s Best Ice Cream, the effort to source sustainably has been central to the Weckerly’s ethos. This December, Jen and Andy’s dream to open an ice cream shop will reach fruition.
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