By Frank Comstock
Bright, clean and cheery in its paint scheme of red and white, the new Bordentown Creamery fulfills one family’s dream while preserving mid-20th century Bordentown history.
After running a gelato stand on the property and then leasing the building for a water ice operation, the Baldassari family has repurposed the building again into an ice cream, soft-serve and Italian water ice location for Bordentown.
The building, fresh after a recent makeover, apparently began as a distribution facility for an ice cream company in the ’50’s. It’s come full circle now, the original large freezers replaced by all new freezers and equipment. Vanessa Baldassari, 20, manages the creamery with help and guidance from her father, Chris, who owns and operates the Russ Ayres Hot Dog Stand on Route 206, just in front of the creamery. Chris spends much of his time at the hot dog stand, but he checks in on Vanessa and her staff regularly.
Vanessa worked in the hot dog stand for about six years before taking over management of the creamery. She chose not to go to college and instead manages the creamery full-time. Though running the store can be challenging, Vanessa said, Chris is often around for help and to answer questions.
Situated behind the freshly painted and remodeled hot dog stand, the Bordentown Creamery appears to already be a hit based on customer traffic on two recent warm days. “We knew when the water ice store left, we wanted to take over and do something with it,” Vanessa said before the rush on a warm, early spring day. “I want families to come in and for everyone to enjoy it.”
When asked what makes her happiest at the creamery, Vanessa said she enjoys serving customers—especially when they bring their furry friends.
“If they walk up to the window with their dogs, we give them a complementary vanilla custard cup for the dog, so I enjoy that, too,” she said.
Both Vanessa and Chris point to a successful first couple of months, even though March was extremely cold. Chris added that March’s cold weather was not all bad “because we got to train the staff and work out any potential issues and practice making the ice cream.”
There are no five gallon buckets of ice cream made somewhere else. Chris and Vanessa make all of the ice cream and the Italian water ice in a large room behind the serving area. The father-daughter duo attended the Ice Cream University in West Orange once they decided to make their own ice cream at the creamery. The school is run by Malcolm Stogo, the person who created cookies and cream ice cream. Stogo was the first person inducted into the Ice Cream Hall of Fame.
Chris notes they usually have about 12 or 14 flavors of hard ice cream made from scratch starting with an ice cream base and mixing in flavors. While the most popular flavors like chocolate, vanilla, mint chocolate chip, Cookie Monster (a vanilla base with crumbled cookies and blue food coloring), peanut butter, and cookies and cream are always available, they can add or subtract other flavors as demand changes. They also offer soft-serve ice cream, commercial from a distributor and mixed in standard soft-serve machines.
“We keep a small variety and we change flavors to keep the product fresh,” Chris said. After making any flavor of hard ice cream, Chris and Vanessa move the fresh ice cream to a blast freezer for eight to twelve hours and then hold it in another freezer for several more hours before serving.
Both Chris and Vanessa say that hard ice cream has been the most popular so far, although both have noticed that water ice sales peak on warmer days, and soft-serve is always popular. The Bordentown Creamery also serves traditional milkshakes and sundaes, as well as a mix of soft-serve and water ice they call the Extreme Blend. Vanessa says their Banana Bomber, a banana split in a tall cup, has been a big hit so far. The creamery offers some sugar-free water ice and it currently working on a recipe for sugar-free ice cream.
With Chris’s help and guidance, Vanessa is running the creamery. “She’s taking over. That’s the whole idea. It’s her place and she’s still training,” Chris said of his daughter.
Vanessa smiles as she takes about the opportunities ahead. She said the creamery’s 16 employees have been “great” in the month since they’ve started training.
For 2017, the creamery will be seasonal through the fall, although Vanessa notes they can provide ice cream cakes all year with customers placing orders through their Facebook page. All seating is outside for now, with four tables with bright red seating and umbrellas and five park benches.
Vanessa and Chris are both pleased to carry on a family-run, family-friendly business and bring their unique take on fresh ice cream to the Bordentown community.
The Bordentown Creamery is located at 680 Route 206 South just behind the bright yellow Russ Ayres Hot Dog Stand.