The sun came out in Ranelagh at just the right time, said Redmond Kennedy on Sunday.
Kennedy — owner of new gelateria Scoop on Sandford Road — had been waiting for two or three weeks for some equipment to arrive in from Italy. Just as it did, the city heated up, he says.
“We just threw open the doors and started giving out samples,” he says. “We’re playing a bit of catch up, but we’re getting there.”
Scoop opened just a short stroll from the centre of Ranelagh village about two weeks ago. It has a sky-blue facade, slouching outdoor deck chairs, and gleaming lights inside.
Close to 10 pm on Sunday, there is a steady string of customers getting their fix of gelato, milkshakes, crepes, and coffee.
Kennedy and his two staff take orders, attend to the rumbling coffee machine, punch the till, distribute free samples, and whisk up the milkshakes. They also make crepes.
Kennedy sprays a hot plate with oil and attentively spreads batter on it. He flips it, lays out banana slices in a perfect triangle, and adds fragments of digestive biscuits and salted caramel sauce.
To finish, he carefully folds it and places it in a cardboard pocket, topping the banoffee crepe with fluffy cream and more of the gooey sauce.
Kennedy made a living marketing food businesses for 15 years before deciding to open his own 18 months ago. He started with a mobile creperie but soon, he and his business partner decided to mix it up a bit.
A gelateria, they decided, would be a natural fit with the crepe business. Four months ago they set about starting Scoop, and found this tiny premises — just big enough that everything could be produced on-site.
Kennedy heads in each morning at 7 am to help make fresh gelato in a rainbow of flavours.
There’s bubblegum, strawberry, vanilla, Ferrero Rocher, chocolate, salted caramel, hazelnut, orange, Nutella, Oreo, pistachio, and marshmallow-studded Smurf.
I call it ice cream and Kenny corrects me – it’s gelato. “Don’t say ice cream,” he says.
Despite the wide grin on his face, I take him seriously. Kennedy and those who work at Scoop are trained in the art of gelato, after all.
The head gelato chef, Enrico Rapella, studied the craft at university in Bologna. Kennedy and other staff took lessons with Giacomo Schiavon, a master gelato maker also from Bologna.
So far, the Ferrero Rocher and the Oreo flavours are probably the most popular, says Kennedy, but his favourites are the pistachio and salted caramel.
The caramel’s taste is pierced by a hit of Irish sea salt; as the creamy gelato melts, it leaves behind big chunks of chewy golden caramel. Similarly, the pale-green pistachio is infused with generous amounts of roughly chopped nuts.
The doors open at 7.30 am and stay open late. Kennedy doesn’t close up until 10.30 pm Sunday to Thursday, and 12.30 am Friday and Saturday (“Though I think we might bring that back to midnight,” he says.)
On Sunday night, customers seemed surprised to find Scoop still serving. “We didn’t think you’d still be open,” said one women.
“Roll up, roll up,” he says, as he offers samples of flavours on miniature ice cream spoons. His plan, he says, is to win over any customers who come in looking for a 99 by offering them a sample of what Scoop has to offer.
At the moment, you can get one, two or three scoops (€3, €4.50, €5.50), a milkshake made of organic milk and gelato (€4.50), or a sundae (€6).
“If you want to make up a sundae or a milkshake, you choose any three scoops of gelato,” says Kennedy. “So you can have a mix of pistachio and Ferrero Rocher, or maybe orange, or anything of your choosing.”
One couple order a scoop to split. “A biggy for the locals,” says Kennedy to his colleague. “And two spoons!”
Crepes and Coffee
For the colder days, Scoop also offers crepes and coffee.
Kennedy’s first venture into running a food business was his mobile creperie – Classic Crepes. Two renovated 1970s Citroen HY vans sell French-style sweet crepes and savoury galettes. On Sunday, one was in Kildare, the other at Dún Laoghaire pier.
Almost all the ingredients used in Scoop are sourced from Italy or Ireland. The only exception is the flour for the crepes, which comes from France.
Kennedy’s food truck galettes are made with organic, gluten-free buckwheat flour. Although he sells sweet crepes at Scoop, he keeps some of this gluten-free galette batter to cater for any coeliacs that might wander in looking for a crepe.
He believes it’s important to cater for people who don’t eat gluten and sees it as a key part of his business. The strawberry and the vanilla gelato are gluten-free too, he says.
The crepe-and-waffle station has two hot plates, and toppings of fruit, chocolate, marshmallows, and cream. They cost between €4 and €5.
To the right of the door is the register and a majestic coffee machine, which serves artisan coffee from Coffee Culture in Rathcoole.
“It’s a really nice blend that we use,” says Kennedy. “It’s a nice mild, roast. We’ve got the complete coffee offering and in the morning fresh pastries get delivered.”
Hot drinks come in at between €2 and €3.
Kennedy doesn’t seem to have any doubts about Scoop’s success, even at this early stage. He’s already got plans to expand, he says.
He’s currently checking out if it’s possible to squeeze all the vital gelato equipment into a food truck, he says, and is looking to rent a larger premises elsewhere in the city.
Update: Corrected gelato chef Enrico Rapella’s surname on Monday June 13 at 16:00