Global gelato empire Gelatissimo has chosen Texan food-capital Houston as the location for its first US storefront, opening in the Baybrook Mall this December – with official grand opening celebrations to come in early 2022.
Beloved for their photo-worthy, decadent artisanal flavors, wholesome ingredients, and made-fresh-in-house ethos, Gelatissimo has the soul of a local business but boasts 65+ stores globally, a multi-million-dollar annual revenue, a 20-year track record of success – and a booming master franchise model.
Respected Houston entrepreneurs and first US Gelatissimo franchisees Phanary Hok and Simon Stankevicius said frequent travels to Europe sparked a love affair with gelato, but there was nothing comparable in their city, or even in the US. “Houston is a city of foodies, so it seemed crazy to me that we were missing authentic gelato – it’s mainly ice cream here,” said Hok.
While hunting for franchising opportunities online, the couple discovered Gelatissimo, and after trying the gelato they were compelled to become the brand’s first store owners in the US. “I fell in love with the texture, flavor and the way it looked. You could taste the real ingredients; the strawberry really tasted like strawberry. We know Houstonians will fall in love with the gelato just like we did,” said Hok.
Gelatissimo CEO Filipe Barbosa said international expansion was at the heart of the brand’s strategy for 2021/2022 and described Houston as a natural first choice to lay down US roots thanks to its international reputation as a foodie mecca. “We feel the time is right to really ramp up our international presence and cement our brand on a world stage, starting with Houston,” he said. “With Phanary Hok and Simon Stankevicius at the helm, we are working with passionate franchise partners who really share our values.”
With decades of franchising success under her belt including four Shipley’s Donuts locations and two fitness franchises, Hok knows the ropes, but for her partner Stankevicius, this is new and exciting territory – and a welcome challenge. “Knowing how Gelatissimo has such a proven record of almost 20 years of success in other markets puts my mind at ease; its successful for a reason. The product is truly great,” he said.
In-store at Gelatissimo, you’ll find everything from classic favorites to unchartered flavor creations and collaborations with local brands; like Texas’ own Yellow Rose Distilling, with whom they’ve created a bourbon-infused gelato as part of a ‘Tastes of Houston’ collection.
Other deluxe, must-scoop flavor favorites include Chunky New York Cheesecake and Wicked Double Choc Brownie. Decadent, but lower in fat than ice cream, with no artificial colors and flavors, plenty of vegan and sugar-reduced options, plus a friendly team serving up pure happiness by the spoonful – Gelatissimo is a better way to indulge.