A Jeremiah’s Italian Ice is the latest entrant into the booming business of selling ice cold treats around Lakeland.
Rita’s Italian Ice, Mimi’s Italian Ice, Culvers and Andy’s Frozen Custard have all recently entered the market within the last two years.
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The Central Florida-based Jerimiah’s is known for unique Italian ice flavors and gelati that come in both year-round staples and seasonal varieties. Its menu of 40 flavors has tried and true veterans such as lemon, strawberry or cookies and cream either as an ice treat or gelati swirled with vanilla or chocolate ice cream.
Seasonal regulars include pumpkin pie and candy cane gelati, as well as their trademarked flavor Scoop Froggy Frog with a mint chocolate chip flavor.
Ocala-based franchise owner, iServ LLC, is run by Hayden Boyd, 24. He said construction for the Lakeland location has started inside the former dry cleaner space at the plaza and it should be open for business in June.
As the largest franchise owner in the chain, iServ has locations in Florida and Texas. Boyd would not say where he plans up to two more locations to service Lakeland and he would not rule out other locations in Polk County if there is an opportunity presents itself.
“I would expect to see continued growth,” Boyd said.
Boyd said since 2017 when Jerimiah’s had 20-plus Central Florida locations, it has expanded to 100 locations due to franchising, which has spread the business throughout the Southeastern U.S. and as far West as Las Vegas and throughout Arizona.
The menu has also grown with new locally developed gelati recipies or staff inspired “Flavor-ites” − prepared with classic gelati and layer-ins − and available on its J-List customer loyalty app, he said.
“If there is anyone out there that would like to do something custom, you can always submit it for review,” Boyd said.
While most Central Florida locations have a drive-thru and walk-up windows, customers will enter Jerimiah’s and order at indoor counters. There will not be a drive-thru at this location, but inside and outside seating. A mural with a hand-painted Lakeland-themed imagery will adorn a subway tiled wall in the dining area, Boyd said.
“So if you are a local you might see something you see driving through the communicty, but if you’re just visiting you being introduced to the community through the mural,” he said.
As the market gets more crowded, will the competition get fiercer?
At Rita’s, franchise owner Gina Tullio was not worried about the competition hurting her Italian ice business, which has been booming since she opened in December 2021 at 3115 U.S. 98 N.
“I’m not very concerned about them (Jeremiah’s) as far as a competitor,” she said, at her Market Square Shopping Center location. “They are on the other side of town. They don’t make their ice fresh daily, so we pride ourselves on product and quality control. That would probably be the biggest difference between them and us.”
“I wish them some amazing success,” Tullio added.
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The Jeremiah’s is coming soon to the Publix shopping center at the corner of Lakeland Highlands Road and County Road 540A E, its website said.
That’s more than eight miles away from Rita’s in an industry that attracts most of its customers from a five-mile radius, she said.
While Culvers has two locations now, its frozen concoctions are a mix of toppings such as candy or cookie bits and custard mixed together, known as a concrete mixer, so their offering is different than the Italian ice businesses. Although Andy’s Frozen Custard is the closest frozen treat to the new Jerimiah’s location, it too offers a much different taste experience.
Mimi’s opened in December at 3120 S. Florida Ave., according to its owner Mimi Rivera. She sells her Italian ice at least five miles from the new Jerimiah’s. But location aside, Rivera says her products are much different compared to the other places.
“We have two totally different things going on,” she said in comparison to Jerimiah’s. “Ours is Italian ice but I’m not even stressing them.”
Mimi offers 16 flavors of fresh fruit Italian ice and the texture is thicker because each frozen treat contains real fruit pieces in its ices differentiating itself from the city’s other Italian ice restaurants. That’s in addition to eight flavors of dairy-free, glutton-free vegan ice cream with a coconut base in her gelati.
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“No worries here,” Rivera said. Concerning the plethora of new frozen delights in and around Lakeland, she added, “I think we all each offer our own different things.”
“Ours is where a lot of people who have food allergies, they can actually have a spot now to come and eat with more options than the one or two options elsewhere and we always change our flavors out so usually one to two times a week we are putting a new flavor in,” she said. “But it is to where our flavors are so good that even someone who doesn’t have food allergies can eat it and never tell there is no dairy in it.”
According to Erik Peterson, planning administrator for Polk County, the planning department has completed its review and building inspectors are engaged in signing off on the remodel of a commercial interior for Jerimiah’s.
A building permit for the 2117 E. County Road 540A restaurant details plans for a $333,425 interior remodel in the plaza owned by Publix Super Markets Inc.
The applicant is listed as CDS Consulting LLC along with the construction firm of R E Crawford Construction LLC – both Sarasota-based firms. The renovations include electrical, plumbing, and heating and air conditioning as well as the interior improvements.
Paul Nutcher can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
News Source: https://www.theledger.com/story/business/2023/03/09/jeremiahs-italian-ice-coming-to-lakeland/69964187007/