Doc Burnstein’s Ice Cream Lab, famous locally for nearly a half-century of frozen treats, is expanding into a new realm of sweetness.
The corporation is planning to open a chocolate factory at an undisclosed Nipomo location, and once the equipment is installed and running — targeted for mid-November — the more than 2,000-square-foot facility in an existing building is expected to churn out 150 pounds of Doc’s Fine Chocolate every day.
“We chose Nipomo because it was an opportunity to bring in another area to contribute to the local economy … ,” said Molly Kasdan, corporate promotions manager for Doc Burnstein’s. “We wanted to keep this new venture local, creating jobs and giving Nipomo some sense of community pride [and] contribution in our company as well.”
Kasdan said the company is not ready to reveal the site chosen for the new factory, but the plan checks have been completed by San Luis Obispo County and the company expects to get the OK to proceed within the week.
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“The location will be announced when all facets are in place and confirmed,” she said.
Of course, Kasdan said, that output will increase as needed to keep up with demand.
Gerald Reed, former owner of Gerald’s Olde Tyme Chocolates in Arroyo Grande, will be the candy maker, acting as a mentor, creator and developer along with Cale Munro, who will be the general manager of chocolate production.
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Kasdan said the company will be hiring local people to work in the factory, but it won’t be many at first. She estimated the factory will have about six employees until the operation begins to grow.
All the chocolates will be made from scratch using generations of chocolatier and candy-maker recipes, she said.
Doc Burnstein’s decided to flow into chocolates to balance the company’s revenues from ice cream.
“Our objective is to create a year-round revenue product, since ice cream is somewhat seasonal,” Kasdan explained. “As we expand, this project allows us to have more opportunities to contribute to the community [with the increased revenue] and support the lull in ice cream sales during wintertime.
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“Chocolate is also easier to ship as gifts than ice cream, and with the holidays fast approaching, it would be a great idea for corporate gift giving,” she added.
The company, which will be doing business as Doc’s Chocolates Inc., hasn’t settled on a final marketing plan — whether the chocolates will be sold exclusively through Doc Burnstein’s Ice Cream parlors or distributed to other retailers as the ice cream is.
“We are open to all possibilities,” Kasdan said. “We are currently strategizing the best path for our reach to the public.”
Locals salivating to buy directly from the factory will have to curb their appetite for freshly made chocolates, at least for the time being.
Direct sales are not initially planned, although that will likely happen in the future.
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“This is something we are still exploring [and] fine tuning, but, yes, we plan on being able to share the chocolates from our new facility if that works well with the landscape,” Kasdan said.
Doc Burnstein’s also has no immediate plans to open an ice cream parlor in Nipomo, since it already has parlors at Enos Ranch in Santa Maria, the original location in the Village of Arroyo Grande and a third in the heart of San Luis Obispo.
The grand opening of a new parlor in Chico was held Saturday, and the company is considering opening one in Sacramento, Kasdan said.
Although not owned by Doc Burnstein’s, the company’s ice cream is also available at Café Dolce in Solvang and other locations in Pismo Beach, Avila Beach, Cambria, Atascadero, Kettleman City and Fresno.
Beat the heat. Take a tour of the Doc Burnstein's Ice Cream Lab and get a little closer to your favorite flavor!
Let's be honest, we didn't need much of a reason to ask for a tour. Doc Burnstein's founder Greg Steinberger pointed out that naming July as national Ice Cream Month is much like naming December 'national Christmas month'. It isn't so much an attempt to encourage people to eat ice cream, but an acknowledgement that we eat a lot of ice cream — even more during the month of July. Even so, in celebration of the wonderful concoction we took a tour of Doc Burnstein's production facility in Grover Beach to see how they make the sweet, creamy, cool treat that we all enjoy during hot summer months - cool fall months, drizzly winter months, and warm spring nights.