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Is an Ice Cream Shop Considered a Restaurant or Retail Store?

Ice Cream Shop Business

The answer to the above question will surely depend on the size of the ice cream shop, product offerings, and the business model of operation (storefront or wholesale).

If you sell ready-made ice cream and your day is spent placing and accepting deliveries and ensuring all inventory is fully stocked, then it might be considered a food retail business.

But if the ice cream will be made in-house and the bulk of your day is spent creating those sweet treats, then it can be considered a restaurant establishment.

If your business model is focused around wholesaling to grocery stores and other food vendors, then note that your business can be more classified as a food retail business.

Also note there are franchises in this business where owners have added duties of tracking sales and reporting to the main office.

But all in all, irrespective of the type of ice cream shop you open, have it in mind that with each coming day in the United States, the line between restaurants and food retailers grows thinner and is now quite hard to differentiate.

The struggle for America’s food dollars continues to intensify as consumers can now find fresh prepared ready – to – eat food options at a wide array of outlets across almost every channel: convenience stores, chain drug stores, restaurants, grocery stores, club stores, ice cream shops, vending, gas stations, and even dollar stores.

Whether you decide to serve your own creations in – house, supply to other vendors, or serve a read-made brand, an ice cream shop will offer a great opportunity especially if you love to get creative with food.

The hours are long, but bringing people together makes the work you put in worth it. When starting an ice cream shop, your goal is to get people in the door.

After that, the product should speak for itself. Just like any successful entrepreneur in the United States, you should be business – minded and competitive.

Also note that it is pertinent you have strong interpersonal skills and a knack for listening and identifying your customers’ tastes and preferences. An ice cream shop’s success will be defined by the quality and taste of the products.

10 Useful Tips to Consider When Starting or Running an Ice Cream Shop

Note that most ice cream is served by the scoop. Standard serving options include cups, cones, and specialty sundaes.

Many ice cream shops in the United States satisfy their customer’s sweet tooth by offering a variety of topping options, which are also paid for by the scoop. Here are very important tips to have in mind when managing an ice cream shop in the United States.

1. Know your concept

Note there are many options within the frozen dessert world. Have it in mind that the right concept can help define your success. For instance, does your demographic and location prefer a certain product? 

Will your shop be walk in or walk up? What will your theme be? Will you have homemade product or wholesale? Your store needs to have an identity built around your concept.

2. Don’t use the internet as your buying source

Indeed the internet can be a strong resource for some information, but buying equipment off the internet is dangerous. Have it in mind that ice cream equipment is imperative to the quality of your product and its performance is directly tied to your bottom – line. So acquiring the right equipment from the right company is a must.

3. Understand the process

When starting a business from the scratch, there are many business things you will have to do. Create a legal entity, registering with the town, providing architectural drawings for permits and construction. Hiring contractors and employees, preparing balance sheets, and profit and loss statements.

Even Employee handbooks, uniforms and payroll! Have it in mind that all these are very necessary and can sometimes be very daunting to achieve. Always take them seriously!

4. Have adequate capital

To ensure the success of any business, you have to be properly capitalized before you can begin. Always ensure you understand the costs involved.

This includes hard costs such as equipment, furniture, signage to variable costs like construction, permits, architect fees and more. You also want to ensure you have some opening operating capital to get you through the first few months.

5. Don’t cut corners or settle for less

No matter what it is, be it your capital, your location, your vision or your equipment – don’t cut corners. It is very critical to follow through on every item throughout the process.

Note that once you start taking shortcuts now, it will not stop. You will start to take shortcuts on your employees, your product, your vision, your customer service.

6. Know the importance of a good location

In this business, there are some standards such as good visibility you need to consider when choosing a location. Easy access in and out and strong population density! Nonetheless, an ice cream business should become a destination for people.

So always remember that being a bit off the beaten path is not a deal breaker.  Having a good location is a key component to your success and it is a decision you shouldn’t rush.

7. Never withhold on quality

In the ice cream business, quality counts and customers are willing to pay for it. Always make use of quality ingredients and fresh products that will keep your customers coming back again and again.

Irrespective what your product is, gelato, soft serve, or sorbet your customers are looking for high quality, homemade products that are unique. Quality is also about providing great service to your customer and creating a fun, safe, friendly environment.

8. Don’t listen to everyone

Normally, when you decide to open a business you will most likely start telling people.  Family! Friends! Business associates.

Well, these people will have an opinion. Some will be supportive and helpful. While some will be negative, others in the middle.

However, don’t let your passion be compromised by others.  Stay on course. Keep your head in the clouds but your feet on the ground.

Take it all in but don’t try and convince someone else that you should do something you want to do. Understand the difference between actual useful advice and verbal diarrhoea.

9. Always do your homework

Homework does not consist of late night internet surfing expeditions. There is a lot of information online that is just wrong.

When starting up a business, note that weeding through the rights and wrongs is almost impossible. Your best bet is to get out there and visit stores.

Talk to owners. Talk to customers. Note that most business owners are willing to share as long as you are not future competition. You can learn more from a few days in the field than you will from weeks at your laptop.

10. It is always about hard work

You might know someone who owns their own business. Maybe you’ve seen them out golfing in the middle of the day. Maybe they come and go as they please. We’ll, have it in mind that it is nearly impossible for start ups to be that carefree.

Opening a start-up ice cream business is taxing. You need to be there. You need to provide the business the proper foundation so that it gets off to the right start. Also note that your employees won’t care like you. Managers won’t care like you. Family and friends won’t care like you.

You and what you bring cannot be replaced. After the business does open, you cannot just show up at night to count the register.

A business owner is invested financially, emotionally and physically into their business. Starting a business is a lifestyle you need to take seriously.