Tahoe Tessy Mudpie Messy is just one of the creative, 36 homemade flavors offered at the Tahoe Creamery store, located at 4751 Galleria Pkwy. in Spanish Springs. Other flavors include Tahoe Flow Cookie Dough, Pistachio Grizzly Mustachio and Swell Cinnamel. And co-founder Jeff Sallan said they’re just getting started.
“The ice cream model in this country is broken,” Sallan said, explaining that mass distribution has raised costs and lowered the quality of ice cream. “Our ice cream will take you back to a time when ice cream was made with homemade creams. It really is the best.”
Created six years ago with fellow co-founders Greg Hoch and Garrett Sutton, Tahoe Creamery has one other store location in the University of Nevada, Reno Joe Crowley Student Union, in addition to several event vending trailers. The founders pride themselves on being locally owned and run.
“We want to change the way that northern Nevada looks at ice cream,” Sallan said. “I invite anyone who loves ice cream to taste our ice cream. We’ve beaten Ben & Jerry’s and HaagenDas in blind taste tests.”
The ice cream, shipped in from Minden, Nev., where ice cream chef Hoch makes all the flavors, contains all local and natural ingredients, Sallan said. The dairy products are all from Model Dairy, with other ingredients coming from farms in Yerington, Nev. and Fallon, Nev.
“We use all Nevada milk and Nevada cows,” Sallan said, explaining that because of the natural ingredients, Tahoe Creamery ice cream is a more environmentally friendly choice.
The 1,200-square-foot store is the largest of the Tahoe Creamery locations but the expanding of stores is not necessarily a priority, Sallan said.
“We would rather have a few good stores,” Sallan said. “Really, we focus on making the best ice cream we can.”
Inside, a large seating area with full oak tables center around a working fireplace, intended to look like a lodge living room.
“It’s designed this way so you feel comfortable,” Sallan said. “We want to make you want to stay here.”
With a staff ranging between four to five part-time and full-time employees, typically of high school and college age, Tahoe Creamery makes about $1,100 on a good day, Sallan said. Weekends are the store’s busiest times.
Offered at all local Scolari’s grocery stores and 7-Eleven stores, Sallan said his competitors like Marble Slab and Coldstone are really in a different category from Tahoe Creamery.
“We’re not mixing our ice cream,” Sallan said, referring to pre-packaged ice cream ingredients. “It’s hard to compete with that because we are a completely different concept.”
Tahoe Creamery relies on local advertisements, including coupons in the newspaper and radio spots. But, Sallan said, word of mouth seems to have the most effect.
And ultimately, as finances seem to plague all businesses, Sallan said he’s not worried.
“It’s hard with the financial situation the way it is now,” Sallan said. “Especially for summer when kids want to go to water parks like Wild Waters, which can be expensive. But you can always spend two bucks for ice cream.”
And while other ice cream shops might serenade customers, Sallan said there are no gimmicks.
“There is no singing here,” Sallan said with a laugh. “Just good ice cream. I want to give out an open invitation for everyone to come and try it.”
Prices range between $2 and $3 and pints are available for purchase, as well, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting The League to Save Lake Tahoe and the Sierra Kids Foundation.
Tahoe Creamery is open Sunday through Thursday from 12 to 8 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays from 12 to 9 p.m.
For more flavor and catering information, visit the Tahoe Creamery Web site at www.tahoecreamery.com.