Feature Customer Q&A: Keeping it Fresh

The guiding principle for consistently dishing out addictively delicious gelato not only depends on the quality of ingredients used, but also how and when the gelato is made. Producing fresh gelato, batch by batch, on a daily basis is what continuously draws customers back, sometimes twice in one day, to enjoy the final result of fresh, frozen decadence. This kind of dedication to customer satisfaction is happily displayed time and again at Mangiamo Gelato Caffe. The very passionate owner of this gelateria conducts his business using this golden rule: above all else, simply keep it fresh.

Mangiamo Gelato Caffe

Bob Hoxie (BH), Owner
122 Main Street
Huntington Beach, CA 92648
714 536 5388

JM: What inspired you to open a gelateria?

BH: For years, I wanted to open a restaurant. After 30+ years of working in construction, tired of driving to LA, it was time for a change. Convincing my wife, Tanya, was a totally different story. “Most restaurants fail!” was her response every time the subject came up. Finally, I tried a different approach by talking about my Italian heritage and reminding Tanya, often, about our vacations in Italy and how much we both loved the country, the culture, the gelato! Eventually, she started listening, and then one day, we visited a small gelato store and tasted freshly made gelato. It was amazing! That’s all it took.

JM: What do you think is the key to your success?

BH: Often, gelato in the States is made in a warehouse, frozen and shipped to the store. Mangiamo gelato is made fresh, right in the store every day. If you’re going to take the risk to change your career, invest your retirement, work seven days a week – your product better be the best.

JM: If you could create any flavor, what would it be?

BH: Bacardi and Dr. Pepper.

JM: How long have you been in business?

BH: Just 20 months, but who’s counting!

We opened July 1, 2009, in the first block of Main Street, Huntington Beach. I’ll never forget the first day. We just had a health department inspection and brought staff in for training. We had a line out the door and down the street buying out of only one pan of gelato in the case, MANGO SORBETTO. I remember the moment like it was yesterday.

JM: How many stores/shops do you own?

BH: Only one right now, but we plan to open our second store this summer. We are also working on expanding our wholesale business and catering.

JM: What’s on your menu?

BH: Gelato and coffee are the menu basics. We serve Italy’s brand, Lavazza coffee, and use our gelato to offer flavored coffee drinks. Everyone loves them!

JM: What is the main thing you would want people to know about your business?

BH: We put our heart and soul into everything we do, and this store is no exception. We believe in our product, in our community, and we are thrilled that so many folks have supported our efforts. Seeing repeat customers makes this all worthwhile.

JM: What are your goals? Would you like to franchise your business or expand your menu?

BH: We want to keep doing what we are doing … having the time of our lives making great gelato, owning a business and being part of the community we have grown up in and love. Who knows what tomorrow will bring? For today, we’re having a blast!

JM: What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned so far in business?

BH: Develop a plan and stick to it. Don’t chase the dream by offering everything under the sun. Figure out what you do the best and do it.

JM: What drives/inspires you?

BH: My first response is the rent and the loans. But the true reason is that we believe in what we do and that being second has never been an option to either of us.

JM: Do you have events at your shop? What kind?

BH: We had a gelato party last year, and that was really fun. Also, we are huge supporters of our local Boys & Girls Clubs. They are working hard to build a new facility on our city’s community college campus, and we believe when a child grows up on a college campus, they will probably go to college. So, every Monday, we donate 10% of our sales to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Huntington Valley’s Build Dreams Campaign.

JM: Is there an occurrence/business blooper you would most like to forget?

BH: Yes, and I’ve almost forgotten about it, so why did you ask?

JM: What do you think sets you apart from other gelaterias?

BH: We make the gelato fresh daily, and we use only fresh ingredients. Since we’re not a franchise, we can change and develop new recipes whenever we want to. Customers are always excited to come in and see what we have that’s new. OKAY, they didn’t much like the wasabi gelato, or the pear and gorgonzola … but everything else has been a hit!

JM: How did you come up with the name for your business?

BH: My wife, I wanted “Fragile”, but she said that I love to eat gelato… so Mangiamo it was.

JM: What is one of your most rewarding experiences/greatest success?

BH: Our most rewarding experience happened the first day we opened, and we saw people actually walking into the store! We even had customers coming back for seconds the first day! Most recently, it was the day Whole Foods Market came to us asking to carry our gelato in their stores.