“I started the company selling out of this machine in 2009, mostly in the Mission,” says Smitten Ice Cream founder Robyn Sue Fisher, referring to the Brrr machine she invented and installed on a Radio Flyer wagon. “So the fact that we’re opening a real store in the Mission is back to the roots.”
Smitten’s fourth San Francisco location opens at noon Thursday, March 23, with a pay-what-you-want special (with whatever money that does come in donated to La Cocina). The original battery, which Fisher built out of an old motorcycle battery, has been installed in the floor, where it will be illuminated to show how the seven-year-old company has returned to its origins.
“We’re doing only ‘Mission flavors,’” Fisher adds, which means a Turmeric Gold Latte flavor from a partnership with Samovar Tea Lounge, followed by a Chevre & Apricot flavor through Mission Cheese, and a Mission Hot Chocolate in collaboration with Dandelion Chocolate. Beyond that, Smitten will put together “fine-dining partnerships with chefs around the city to feature limited-edition flavors that come and go quickly at their restaurants and our shops.”
“We’re also going to have a passport, where you can collect the different flavors and then you get a reward, to get to know your local purveyors through ice cream,” she says.
Smitten’s also got a commissary kitchen in the works nearby, which will include a clean room to produce all its own bases from scratch — a rarity, considering how many artisanal ice cream shops rely on Straus Creamery — and allow the company to bake its own products for the first time. That means, among other things, ice cream sandwiches. It also means a better relationship with farmers, who will no longer have to deal with each Smitten on an individual basis.
Sourcing mint, for example, has been an issue. After years of drought followed by excessive rain, Fisher says the mint she’s procured is “super-diluted,” and since she refuses to use extracts, “we’re super-excited to be farm-driven.”
“This is why I’m excited to grow,” she adds. “The Mission is our home — and that’s why the store is so pretty.”
Smitten Ice Cream, 904 Valencia St., 415-590-3144 or smittenicecream.com