Walking into A Little Gelato you see the cases full of pies, cookies, eclairs, and then the gelato. The flavors of the gelato are created daily and with customer input. They also serve soups and will be serving sandwiches and cakes and all of it is homemade by the owner, Ken Jordan. But, this was not the original vision of A Little Gelato. Ken knew he had to add to his menu for the winter months, but he didn’t think a bakery section is what The Heights needed (we recently lost 2 due to lack of business). However, he proved himself wrong as the pies for thanksgiving have been flying off the shelves and his soups are selling out.
Ken always knew he wanted to be in the world of desserts going to a vocational high school and then college both focused on the art of baking. He then went to the Gelato Pastry Institute twice! The second time was to brush up on his skills when he decided to open a gelateria. Before he opened A Little Gelato, Ken was working in the bakery section of local supermarkets learning the business. Then once he decided to open the shop, he realized he needed to know real estate. So, he did that for a few years and “hit a grand slam” with his current location.
He chose to open the shop in The Heights because he has lived here his entire life. “I love our neighborhood. My favorite spot is Pershing Field because “I am able clear my head and just breathe in the open. It also reminds me of my childhood.” Ken and his partner, Christine, (in life and business) are renovating a Victorian around the corner from the shop and he is able to raise his 2 daughters where he grew up.
Ken prides himself on the product he produces using fresh fruit in the fruit gelato and sorbets. He gets flavors from the best sellers and uses real Italian pistachios in his pistachio gelato. He is always testing new flavors and trying to create what the customers ask for. Banana with crunch and nut, mint, and the mango sorbet are huge hits. He is a vanilla guy and makes an amazing vanilla bourbon. He is always asking, changing, and readjusting making sure he is providing the community with what they are looking for. He also able to “provide great pricing because we are in The Heights.”
I could eat his sorbet for every meal. When I asked him why is it when you get a palate cleanser the sorbet is always hard? He explains, “It is because we set it to the right temperature. At restaurants they put it at the ice cream temperature which is 19 degrees. We have it at 10 for gelato and 12 for sorbet.”
By the time I normally get to the shop around 6pm, the gelato has about a 1/3 left.
The biggest surprise so far has been, “the customer reaction and positive reaction.” Along with that his biggest learning was “understanding market trends. I didn’t want to do a bakery, but here we are!” While I was sitting with my friend Erin eating homemade chicken noodle soup in a bread bowl and a cup of gelato, and she got gelato and a cannoli (it was amazing), he had 5 customers come in and buy pies along with a scoop of gelato or another little treat. When he told them he would be open on Thanksgiving they said they would be back! Ken has definitely found a way to sell his amazing gelato and provide the community with the bakery goods we obviously so desperately needed.
It is the little places with the good food and a warm neighborhood feel that make you want to buy more and come back again, A Little Gelato fits the bill.
Next time you stop in tell them Growing in Jersey City sent you and get $1 off any order of $5 or more order.