A COUPLE of Perth entrepreneurs are defying the covid odds to open a new gelateria in Leederville.
Ben and Stacy Lawrence launched their first Swan River Gelato in Fremantle in 2019, and it’s done so well they’ve decided to expand during these unprecedented times and open another outlet in Perth later this month.
“Fremantle really needed to go well and we’re lucky that our location has worked for our customers,” Mr Lawrence says.
“They’ve recognised that we make a premium product and that there’s something different about it which has led to the expansion to a new location.”
Mr Lawrence grew up working in his parents’ gelateria in Byron Bay.
“I was raised in their Gelato shop. I began working when I was 12, making gelato at 14 and then owned a shop when I was 18 in Lennox Head.”
His gelato is made in-store using fresh produce from WA suppliers like Bannister Downs Dairy, MacNuts WA and Walkers Candy Co.
“Using local products I think makes a creamier, fresher tasting gelato. It’s expensive to make but if you want a good product you’ve got to wear that extra cost hit.”
Fremantle city centre has more than 15 ice cream shops, some specialising in gelato, but Mr Lawrence says his stands out from the crowd because it’s made from traditional recipes that avoid texturisers and other additives.
“Most gelato shops now create an industrialised style gelato with a lot of added stabilisers. It’s creamy, but you can tell there’s something different added to it,” he says.
“Our gelato is made in store using just milk, cream and sugar. It breaks down a lot easier and is smooth on the palate.”
Many cafes and restaurants went out of business during the early days of the pandemic, but Swan River Gelato weathered the storm.
“We’re really lucky that our product is considered a cheap luxury, so even through financial hardship people can always afford to have an ice-cream,” Mr Lawrence says.
Co-owner Stacy is in charge of social media and marketing, and also helps out behind the counter at the Fremantle store.
Originally from France, she met Ben while holidaying in Darwin, who at that point was working for Virgin Australia, flying all over the country. They are in the final stages of fitting out their Leederville store in Carr Place, situated near the popular tapas restaurant Duende.
The gelato will be made using Mr Lawrence’s family recipes, with up to 42 different flavours available at one time.
“It’s a great spot with lots of foot traffic and not a lot of competition,” he says.
“I can’t wait to get behind the counter and get feedback from our new customers.
“It’s one of the most rewarding things I get out of the business.”
by PIP WALLER