Family is at the heart of it all. When we consider what inspires us, what drives us to keep going in the pursuit of happiness and stability, the root of that ambition comes from the affection we feel toward our loved ones. We want to make them proud, and if we are fortunate enough we can leave something behind for the generations that follow. A legacy. It is an asset more valuable than anything worth its weight in gold, for it provides purpose and something worth holding on to in one’s lifetime.
The Graeters have passed down a heritage that has not only been a joy for their kinfolk, but for countless families across the Midwest for over 150 years! When we talk about homegrown gems, in Cincinnati you simply cannot fail to mention Graeter’s Ice Cream as part of that illustrious group. Founded in 1870, the ice creamery we’ve grown to know and love began out of the passion of Louis Charles Graeter and his first wife. Though, it wasn’t until 1900 when Mr. Graeter pivoted the business model with changes to its ice cream production process, and married his third wife Regina Berger, that Graeter’s Ice Cream reached its next level of prosperity.
Together, they propelled the company forward, producing and selling their product from the first floor of their property at their home in Walnut Hills.
“My great-grandmother took over the business when her husband passed in 1919, working to further solidifying our French pot process … and expanding the company throughout the city,” says Chip Graeter, current owner and chief of retail operations for Graeter’s ice Cream. “By 1986, Graeter’s Ice Cream had a foothold in the Kenwood area, and it became a very popular location for us.”
Graeter’s celebrated the grand opening of their new Kenwood flagship on Tuesday, May 25. Deciding to stay in the area was kind of a no-brainer for Graeter’s as they’ve always maintained good success at their Kenwood store.
“We’ve been in this neighborhood for 35 years, and the great people of this community have supported us every step of the way,” he continues.
The new store significantly increased by square footage, with an addition of a drive-thru, playroom and party space indented for young children up to age 11. Although the playroom/party space is not yet an offering available in all stores, it has become an amenity within their larger stores during Graeter’s more recent expansion projects, providing families with additional alternatives for quality time!
May kicked off warm weather and the beginning of summer break, so you bet that the timing of the grand opening was strategically planned. The summertime is obviously Graeter’s Ice Cream’s busy season. As we look ahead to the month of July, National Ice Cream Month, we can anticipate a host of specials and bonus rewards ran on Graeter’s app, as well as “bonus flavors” which will run two to three weeks each through August. Some of those bonus flavors include Peach in June, Key Lime Pie and Strawberry Sorbet!
What’s really “cool” about the bonus flavor offerings is that if Graeter’s customers absolutely love it – where the product is highly requested and production increases to meet the demand – the flavor gets put in a pint and sold as a regular flavor in-stores. We saw this with their Carmel Macchiato and Maple Cinnamon Crunch. Graeter’s is big on delivering for their customers and providing the best experience for every patron.
“Customer service is important to us – it’s the Regina Graeter’s way, and we believe it starts with having a good team,” Chip emphasizes. “I truly believe we have that here at Graeter’s, across our entire operations.”
There is such great pride in the work that is produced at Graeter’s Ice Cream, and it shows! Even when you take a moment to assess their French pot process you’re left in awe. Everything is done by hand, just as it was 150 years ago. It involves the use of a cylindrical metal bowl that is spun around with a mixture of ice, salt, cream, and other necessary ingredients, where that mixture freezes against the side of the bowl to be scooped out by a paddle. This allows for a really dense product with less air in it. Thus, straight out of Bond Hill, Graeter’s master confectioners create the city’s most beloved ice cream from only 40 pots, 2 gallons every 15 minutes. This one location supplies more than 50 Graeter’s locations and their grocer retail partnerships, such as within Kroger stores!
“Our competitive edge? We only use the best ingredients, and we source locally as much possible,” says Chip. “We’re talking the highest quality fruit and chocolate you can find go into Graeter’s products. It’s of the utmost important to us.”
In that vein, Graeter’s believes in supporting other local businesses and establishing partnerships that promote the efforts of entrepreneurs in our region.
“We feel very connected to the people and the city of Cincinnati,” he continues. “We do what feels right, and if there is an opportunity to give back, Graeter’s does.”
Graeter’s has not forgotten their health conscious customer either! Perfect Indulgence is now their new vegan menu option. They’ve collaborated with Perfect Day (a food technology company based out of Berkeley, California) to make a frozen dessert with all the indulgence of traditional ice cream, except crafted with animal-free dairy proteins. Simply put, combined with Graeter’s French pot process word has it – one taste will make you a believer! The flavors currently available in the Perfect Indulgence category are: Chocolate Chip, Cookies & Cream, Chocolate, Mint Chocolate Chip, Black Cherry Chocolate Chip, and Strawberry.
The new Kenwood Graeter’s store is setup to be an experience for the family! It’s the perfect indoor – outdoor scenario to enjoy one of Cincinnati’s most delicious treats, while being greeted with exceptional service from a delightful staff. My 30-minute chat with Chip Graeter was truly refreshing, just as much as the sample of Mocha Chocolate Chip!
During our brief conversation, something most unexpected and extraordinary happened. A happy customer stopped by our table to share a word with Chip. She said, “Graeter’s Ice Cream is the BEST ice cream in all the world!” She thanked Chip and turned to exit the building smiling ear-to-ear. If that isn’t a testament to the legacy of the Graeter family, I truly do not know what is!
Graeter’s is on its fourth generation of business owners, with some bright familia talent in the wing. Graeter’s can found in cities across the Midwest region, in places such as Chicago, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh. Graeter’s is also known for their baked goods, where stores like Graeter’s Finneytown is 50 percent bakery sales – when most locations are 80 percent ice cream sales.
Chip Graeter’s love and respect for his family, and their namesake, helps propel Graeter’s Ice Cream forward. When we are deeply connected to the things we work for, others benefit from it in the most fruitful way. Cincinnati is quite fortunate to be the beneficiary of 150 years of the Graeter’s steadfast tradition!
Learn more and find a scoop shop closest to you at graeters.com.