Joining a host of guests invited to sit with the first lady for tonight's State of the Union address are Kendra Baker and Zachary Davis, who opened Penny Ice Creamery, an artisanal ice cream shop in Santa Cruz, CA, with the help of a $250,000 Recovery Act SBA loan. Baker and Davis posted an open thank-you in the form of a a YouTube video back in October that got the attention of the White House, and in November, Vice President Biden personally called them to thank them for the video and wish them luck with their shop. From the White House's release on the first lady's State of the Union guests:
Business partners Kendra Baker and Zachary Davis had a dream of opening an organic, homemade ice cream shop in Santa Cruz, California, but had trouble finding a lender that would help finance their dream. With the help of a Recovery Act SBA loan of $250,000, Kendra and Zack were able open the doors to The Penny Ice Creamery in August 2010. The SBA Recovery Act funding allowed them to not only open the shop, but also to employ eleven people, purchase American-made equipment, and to hire nearly twenty local businesses to design and renovate the space. Kendra and Zack were so thankful for the financing help, that they posted a video on YouTube thanking the Administration and Members of Congress for their Recovery Act SBA loan. As a result of the video, the Vice President called them in November 2010 to thank them for the video and wish them good luck.
Unlike most ice cream shops, Penny Ice doesn't buy pre-made bases, which means they have to pasteurize their homemade base in-house. In a recent interview with Civil Eats, Baker explained the detailed process:
In order to make your ice cream from scratch, you have to pasteurize your base, so that's kind of the step that most people don't do. They buy a pre-made base from a large distributor and they are adding flavor to it. When we were developing this business plan we wanted to have complete control over our recipes and what went into our product. Any time you create an ice cream base it has to be pasteurized, that's the California Department of Food & Agriculture law. So we had to create a creamer, which is essentially the micro version of what you would find at a large milk production facility. We had to purchase a pasteurizer that fits our production cycle, which is seven to 15 gallons, because we make everything in really small batches. The process for that is you have to bring up the base to a minimum of 155 degrees with an airspace temperature of five degrees above that. We have to hold it for 30 minutes after which you draw your product and pull it down to below 40 degrees. Our production cycle is actually a two day process. There is a cooling and an aging period, because ice cream is actually enhanced when it is allowed to sit for about 24 hours. The next day you spin it and then it goes through a hardening period where it needs to go into a deep freezer. After that we can start to temper it, which is a softening of the ice cream, before we actually serve it. So it's a lengthy process.
They also discussed the work involved in starting up, and their November call from the White house:
ZD: ...I'm a firm believer in the American dream and I want everyone to believe that anything is possible. It's not to say it's not a lot of work. We put in over two years now, putting this together, just the loan part itself was over six months of extremely frequent back and forth to the bank giving them all the information they needed, proving ourselves. It's not like we just said, "Oh, we're going to go get an SBA loan" and walked into the bank and they gave us the money. There's work, it's all real work.
KB: We had no idea what type of response we would get and we never anticipated that we would actually get a call from the White House...that was pretty incredible.
Penny Ice Creamery's YouTube thank-you video: