Gelü Italian Ice creates one of the Grand Valley’s favorite treats
WHAT: Downtown Grand Junction Farmers Market
WHEN: Thursdays, 5:30-8:30 p.m.
WHERE: Third through Seventh streets along Main Street, Downtown Grand Junction
COST: Free to attend
GELü FUN FACTS
Most popular flavors: Mango & Piña Colada.
Kids’ favorite flavor: Blue Bomb.
7,000 — approximate gallons sold since business opened in Aug. 2013.
227+ — number of local public and private events Gelü Italian Ice has attended.
1,750+ — free samples handed out at the 2015 Home Loan Taste of the Grand Valley, which totaled to 25 gallons of Italian ice.
25 — teens employed on a seasonal basis.
18 — number of flavors.
40 — number of Palisade peaches it takes to make 6 gallons of its peach-flavored Italian ice.
10 — pounds of fresh strawberries needed to make 6 gallons of Gelü Strawberry Italian Ice.
5 — pounds of fresh cherries it takes to make 6 gallons of Gelü’s Very Cherry Italian Ice.
3,500 pounds — total amount of fresh fruit Gelü has used for its Italian ice.
50,000 — approximate number of spoon-sized, free samples handed out since Gelü opened.
-10 degrees F — temp inside freezer holding Gelü Italian Ice.
23,800 — cups of Gelü Italian Ice sold … and counting.
Source: Gelü Italian Ice’s website
Gelü — a unique name for a unique frozen treat.
Gelü Italian Ice started in August 2013 with two push carts filled with several flavors of Italian ice. Today there are more than 20 flavors, six push carts and one large truck, called the “ice box.”
Contrary to many popular beliefs, Italian ice isn’t ice cream, gelato, sherbet, sorbet, shaved ice or slushy. It is a blend of water, fresh or pureed fruit and sugar. While the process is similar to making ice cream, it is a different style of dessert.
Karin Gookin, co-owner of Gelü, explained Gelü is a good dessert for those with allergies since it is fat, dairy, gluten and cholesterol free.
“It’s completely different,” she said. “You have to try it to understand.”
While visiting one of the push carts or ice box, free samples are always available to try a certain flavor or even to try Italian ice for the first time.
The “ice box” at the Sutherlands parking lot in Grand Junction (2405 F Road, Grand Junction), opened in May 2015.
New flavors featured at the ice box include pineapple, root beer, salted caramel, and vanilla. A small (up to two flavors) cost $3 and a large (up to four flavors) costs $4. You can also take home a pint ($4), quart ($6), gallon ($18) or three-gallon ($40) to-go buckets, to share, or eat at a later date.
Every Tuesday at the ice box they offer a two-for-one special for customers — buy a large or a small and get one free of same size. It is open daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Gookin explained that Gelü uses fresh, local fruits as much as possible, including Palisade peaches.
The carts can be found at the area farmers markets, including downtown Grand Junction’s on Thursdays. It has also expanded operations both at the Business Incubator with the recent purchase of a batch freezer and with carts at Lake Havasu, Glenwood Springs and coming soon to Denver. Currently, Gelü employs around 20 locals.
Carts can be hired for special events as well including employee appreciation parties, weddings, rehearsals or birthday parties.
The Italian Ice is made out of the Business Incubator, which is where production originally began, and has made and sold more than 7,000 gallons.
Gookin hopes to find licensees to set up push carts or another ice boxes to expand to other markets like Arizona and the Front Range.
“The product is great, customers love it, and we have great people working for is,” Gookin said about Gelü’s success.
Frequent customer Rhett Abegglen of Grand Junction stopped by the Gelü ice box for an afternoon snack with his two daughters.
“We love it,” he and his daughters said, “We’re the best customers.”
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