Gelarto Italian Ice Cream and Global Arts, founded on Bainbridge Island, is expanding to add an Alki Beach location.
We discovered this in the city permit files over the weekend, with remodeling work planned at 2648 59th SW, former home of Alki Beach Dog. After sending a note to Gelarto’s proprietors, we went by the Alki site this morning to look, and found “COMING SOON – GELARTO” information already up in the window. We have since heard back from co-proprietor Jennifer Al-Abboud, who shared a detailed backstory:
We love West Seattle and considered moving there when searching for a home back in 2012. We were teaching overseas at the time, and there was very little inventory during our short search window so we landed in Poulsbo and ended up on Bainbridge where we now reside in a tiny 607 SF condo we share with our cat Jazz. We opened Gelarto in late August 2013 amidst threat of teacher layoffs, and we have since retired from teaching to pursue our gelato passion full time. We pride ourselves on having a strong owner presence, and we run the shop by ourselves with exception of the busy summer months.
Gelarto has been well received on Bainbridge Island, but our product offerings are limited due to a voluntary good-neighbor policy with the cafe next door. Despite strong community support, a seasonal product in a seasonal location proves challenging in the slow months when our small shop requires only one of us to run it. So in order to maximize our human resources and provide year-round sustainability, we decided to reach out across the water in search of a second location. While we intend to stay small and independent, we always felt West Seattle would be a natural fit for our family business if we ever decided to expand, so we started pounding the pavement in November.
We spent nearly every Tuesday exploring the area, and on our last day off for the winter, we took a long walk from Alaska Junction to Alki and back, and this is when we discovered the Alki Beach Dog vacancy. It was the perfect location, but the Seattle permitting process is indeed a challenge. It has been a short but intense roller-coaster ride, but with health and building plan approval, we hope to bring artisan-quality gelato to this unique beach neighborhood in early May.
Having tasted gelato all over the world, we are very particular about our product, and our research found the highest-quality Italian gelato right here in Seattle at D’Ambrosio’s Gelateria, a father-son operation based in Ballard. Following the Italian tradition, Marco and Enzo make gelato the way it was intended to be made: from scratch, in small batches with local organic dairy and natural ingredients. They do not use base mixes common in the frozen dessert industry, and their gelato and dairy-free sorbets contain no artificial coloring or flavoring. They use local ingredients where available, and they import their coffee, dark chocolate, Sicilian pistachios and Piedmont hazelnuts from Italy.
… The Alki location will allow us to offer a full espresso bar to complement our gelato, including D’Ambrosio’s decadent Italian hot chocolate. Additionally, we are exploring the possibility of serving waffles in the fall and winter. Gofres, as they are known in Europe, are often paired with gelato and would offer a warm alternative for the cooler months.
We are thrilled to become part of the West Seattle community and hope it is as welcoming as Bainbridge. The two communities share similar demographics with well-traveled locals and tourists from all over the world, and each shoreline is visible from the other, so we already feel connected.
You might recall that the building has been proposed for replacement with a mixed-use development. That project completed the first stage of Design Review last summer but hasn’t gone to the second stage yet. Al-Abboud says they have a lease running at least through the next two summers.