LUV Ice Cream to open manufacturing facility in downtown North St. Paul

Co-owner of LUV Ice Cream, Susanna Gorodisher, 50, stands in front of the company’s new manufacturing building at 2590 E. Seventh Avenue, North St. Paul. (Erin Hinrichs/Review)
Co-owner of LUV Ice Cream, Susanna Gorodisher, 50, stands in front of the company’s new manufacturing building at 2590 E. Seventh Avenue, North St. Paul. (Erin Hinrichs/Review)
Ilya and Susanna Gorodisher distribute samples of their no-sugar-added LUV ice cream at the Seward Community Co-op in Minneapolis. (Submitted photo)
Ilya and Susanna Gorodisher distribute samples of their no-sugar-added LUV ice cream at the Seward Community Co-op in Minneapolis. (Submitted photo)
LUV’s Friend Zoned French Vanilla ice cream, served with fresh berries.
LUV’s Friend Zoned French Vanilla ice cream, served with fresh berries.
LUV’s I’m SO Over Him cacao chocolate chip ice cream is gluten-free, sugar-free and made using organic milk and cream from grass-fed cows at Crystal Ball Farms in Osceola, Wisconsin.
LUV’s I’m SO Over Him cacao chocolate chip ice cream is gluten-free, sugar-free and made using organic milk and cream from grass-fed cows at Crystal Ball Farms in Osceola, Wisconsin.

Owners blend passion for sweets with healthy living

When Susanna, 50, and Ilya Gorodisher, 52, set out to craft a sugar-free ice cream, they began surveying what other cultures use for sweeteners. With family ties to Italy and Russia, respectively, their research brought them around the world.

It wasn't until they reached South America that they found a substitute they thought could rival refined sugar. But they knew it couldn't stand on its own.

"When we started blending, then things started working," Susanna says.

Nearly two and a half years later, their passion project has evolved into a full-fledged business. Providing specialized ice cream and chocolates to a number of cooperative and natural food stores in the Twin Cities and beyond, the couple will be opening LUV Ice Cream's first permanent manufacturing facility in downtown North St. Paul.

"We are not a big corporation. We are just a husband and wife trying to do something fun," Susanna says, laughing with a bit of disbelief before delving into the blueprints illustrating their vision for the new space. 

1 cup science, 2 cups LUV

Susanna attributes her penchant for experimenting in the kitchen to having grown up in a Sicilian family. As a little girl, she fondly remembers the gelato shop her grandparents opened in Connecticut and the care they took in preparing meals.

"I grew up in the wonderful influence of these cooks," she says.

As a young adult, however, she realized the culinary instinct she'd inherited didn't necessarily translate into healthy eating habits.

Motivated by a desire to be able to keep up with her young son, she lost more than 150 pounds and changed career tracks, transitioning from fine jewelry to personal training.

For the past 15 years, she's been working as a personal fitness and wellness consultant, based just outside of Stillwater. Nowadays, she's carving out more time to make LUV products by hand and market her health-conscious treats.

Ilya's professional background in research science, she says, has been instrumental in the development of LUV products. 

She initially brought him on board her health kick on Valentine's Day, 2012, when she convinced him that his weight gain was compromising his health. 

"He said, 'Susanna, if you think I'm going to live a life of kale, this is never going to work,'" she recalls, adding they could agree that everyone needs a treat every now and then.

Both ice-cream lovers, they decided that's what they'd focus on first — bringing new gluten-free, soy-free and dairy-free flavors to market.

The couple hosted a taste-testing party in November 2012 to launch their first 10 flavors amongst friends.

"By the end of the night, they convinced us to go into business," Susanna says. 

We all scream for ice cream

Susanna's initial goal of selling 60 pints a month to break even quickly turned obsolete as their market continued to expand.

"We have no competition in the marketplace," she says.

"We really fill a niche with people with food allergies or just people dedicated to eating a certain way."

Consumers can now purchase LUV products from area retailers including Fresh and Natural Foods in Shoreview and Tailor Made Nutrition in Woodbury. According to Susanna, the company now sells more than 60 pints a day and sales continue to rise.

"[Our customers] love the flavor of the product itself, and they love supporting a very local business," says Andre Bessette with River Market Community Co-op in Stillwater. "I think it's very exciting that they're growing."

Currently, LUV Ice Cream operates out of Minnesota Foodcrafters at 865 Pierce Butler Route in St. Paul. The incubator kitchen provides local food and beverage startups with a shared space to prepare their products for sale.

Establishing a home base

The recent purchase of their own building in North St. Paul, Susanna says, marks a new chapter for LUV. They are ready to invest in building their own commercial kitchen to support continued growth.

"We're thrilled to be here in North St. Paul because we live in May Township and this is within our distributor's pick up range," Susanna says. "Also, the council members and staff have been so amazingly helpful and welcoming."

According to the blueprints, the back third of the building will be used for storage, a commercial kitchen will run through the middle, and chocolates will be made in the front.

"It won't be like an ice cream parlor," she says, noting there may be a few high tops, but no seating.

"People will be able to buy scoops of ice cream, but it will be kind of a take out thing."

Susanna anticipates the new location may open for business as early as September 1. Until then, she plans to soon be selling ice cream outside the building every Friday evening at the History Cruzers car show.

Working with the couple as they settle into their new location, community development director Paul Ammerman says LUV is a good fit for the downtown strip.

"This is craft chocolate and ice cream," he says. "I think it's really going to help draw people from further out, as well as citizens."

Erin Hinrichs can be reached at 651-748-7814 and ehinrichs@lillienews.com. Follow her at twitter.com/EHinrichsNews.

 

 

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