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Tuesday, June 16, 2015

We Got an Exclusive Tour Inside Smitten Ice Cream's Pacific Heights Shop

Posted By on Tue, Jun 16, 2015 at 8:00 AM

click to enlarge PETER LAWRENCE KANE
  • Peter Lawrence Kane

A “warm little ice cream factory,” in the words of founder Robyn Sue Fisher, Smitten Ice Cream opens at noon tomorrow, June 17, in Pacific Heights in a space that had been a copy store for the last 20 years.

Although this is the fifth location for the company overall, it’s only the second in San Francisco. As each shop is laid-out differently, this one features six Brrr machines (the liquid nitrogen ice-cream-making apparatuses whose contents are -321 degrees Fahrenheit and whose aesthetic might be described as “frostpunk”) plus an open kitchen. For seating, there’s an outdoor area strung with lights that will eventually become a garden with a living wall, and benches made from Radio Flyer wagons, a nod to Smitten’s boostrap beginnings as an un-permitted cart.

click to enlarge TONY GAUTHIER
  • Tony Gauthier

There are nice touches that reflect lots of trial and effort over the years, too. Menu boards with built in lights enable the employees to switch out flavors easily (without depending on anyone’s penmanship) and can highlight the source farm(s) for a given flavor’s ingredients. Smitten features at least one seasonal flavor at any given moment, and this summer, it will be strawberry white balsamic, followed by nectarines and cream, and sweet corn and berries.

click to enlarge PETER LAWRENCE KANE
  • Peter Lawrence Kane

Smitten takes itself pretty seriously, employing a full-time hunter-gatherer who combs California for things like peppermint bark without Red 40 in it and using the socially conscious San Francisco company Fireclay Tile to line the walls. She then introduces me to “Dr. Brrr” (real name: Whitford Fowler), a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Stanford who’s giving the Brrr machines a once-over.

As Fisher explains this to me, I notice she’s wearing ice cream cone stud earrings. It’s clear that the only thing she loves more than frozen desserts is playing with heavy machinery.

click to enlarge PETER LAWRENCE KANE
  • Peter Lawrence Kane

On Sunday, June 21, Smitten will be giving out a ton of freebies. In honor of the first day of summer, the first 100 people get free ice cream, and since it’s Father’s Day, males who’ve achieved paternity will get some, too. But from the milk-crate lights to the exposed brick to the damn-delicious TCHO chocolate ice cream that’s perfectly smooth and homogeneous, everyone who steps in the door is bound to be smitten.

Smitten Ice Cream
, 2404 California St., 415-872-9414.

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About The Author

Peter Lawrence Kane

Peter Lawrence Kane is SF Weekly's Arts Editor. He has lived in San Francisco since 2008 and is two-thirds the way toward his goal of visiting all 59 national parks.


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