On Saturday, June 23, the creative forces behind the scrumptious Louisville Cream will celebrate the anniversary of opening their brick-and-mortar location in NuLu.
Insider caught up with Darryl Goodner, who owns Louisville Cream along with partners Zach Hardin and Lynette Hardin. Goodner talked about how the company got started, their most popular ice cream flavors, and their hopes for the future, other than continuing to be one of the best ice cream shops in Louisville.
Louisville Cream began in 2015, but its origins stretch back much, much further.
“I was in high school with Zach Hardin, he was a friend for a while, we used to be roommates,” said Goodner, recalling the years the duo spent at Waggener High School. He added that the other founder, Lynette Hardin, was Hardin’s girlfriend when the business got started. The two are now married.
Beyond that friendship, the specific idea of going into the ice cream business has been floating around Goodner’s brain for a long time.
“I used to joke around in high school saying I was going to open a place called Float Your Boat. Later I just started making ice cream,” said Goodner. “I’m not sure why, but I was bringing it to (the Hardins’) house, just kind of casually. We’d eat it while we hung out.”
But when it came down to how the business actually got started, that was kind of an accident.
“One of our buddies asked if we could cater a wedding, and then that snowballed into another wedding, then that turned into someone asking us to cater an event at the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft,” he explained. “So we formed it into a business and started figuring out what all we needed to do.”
They decided “what they needed to do” included making overtures to local media, and Insider got a sneak peek in January 2015. We were on board immediately.
For their first real public outing, Louisville Cream threw an ice cream social at Louis the Ton, now Butchertown Social, about a month later. They gave away their ice cream, hoping it would drum up business.
They clearly understood the old business axiom, “The first taste is free, but the second one is going to cost you.”
They showed up at street fairs and events, continued to cater and even supplied some ice cream for a select few restaurants. Eventually, the trio started to talk about opening a brick and mortar, feeling that no matter how hard they hustled, without a physical location they would never be able to reach their full potential.
They began looking for a location but continued what Goodner called their “weekend warrior” business in the meantime. At one street festival, their current location fell into their laps. They were scooping ice cream at the annual NuLu Fest and, in passing, someone recommended a specific real estate agent. Later at the same event, Goodner ran into that agent.
“I asked him about property, and he pointed right behind me,” said Goodner. “So we pursued it, and it happened to be the right place.”
“We have a good social media following and we have a good word of mouth,” he said. “We’ve got a good reputation, and I think for a couple years it was one of those things where, if you know, you know. But we had people ready for us when we opened.”
Part of what makes Louisville Cream so excellent is a rotating selection of special flavors. It keeps the public hungry for the next new taste, but it also helps the team stay frosty.
“For us, making the same thing over and over and over again is boring. Just for, like, work purposes, it’s fun to always have something new on the horizon,” said Goodner.
The are a couple of ways they come up those flavors.
“A lot of times my kitchen manager and myself, one of us will have an idea, and sometimes it’s ‘these two things would be good together.’ Or it’s a barely-there idea — like, I wanna use this olive oil, but I’m not sure how,” he said.
And sometimes the flavor crafting is a little more arbitrary, even ridiculously so (in a good way).
“It’s just a name sometimes. Just a really goofy name. And then we build an ice cream afterward, just because we want to call an ice cream something,” he added. “We’ve got one on right now actually. It’s called Electric Boogaloo.”
There have been several surprise favorites over the past year, including pistachio, but one flavor, or rather, one ingredient, keeps rising to the top.
“We had a running joke that the most popular is always what has Oreos in it,” Goodner said. “It’s not really a joke anymore. It’s always the most popular. We just rotate our cookies and cream flavor. Right now for the birthday party it’s Birthday Cake Cookies and Cream.”
That Birthday Cake Cookies and Cream is part of a special birthday sundae.
“It’s birthday cake, with a scoop of Birthday Cake Cookies and Cream on top, and we light a candle, and you can blow it out and make a wish,” he explained.
In addition, there will be gift card and T-shirt giveaways, as well as a generally festive air.
“We’ll decorate the store, because we worked really, really hard to figure it all out and open the shop,” said Goodner. “As much as (the party) is for everyone else, it’s for us — just to celebrate that we made it this far.”
After Saturday, Louisville Cream’s 366th day of operation, the company is moving into the future with several ideas.
“We don’t want the NuLu location to be the only shop,” he said. “We’re always trying to think about ways we can innovate as far as flavors and in how we sell the ice cream. But more than that, we’re trying to have roots here, we want to dig in deep in the community and figure out a way for Louisville Cream to be the ice cream.”
Saturday’s event runs from noon to 10 p.m. at Louisville Cream, 632 E. Market St.