We are very fortunate to have a range of incredibly talented customers who are specialists in their field. One of these customers is Max Shatkhin, owner and founder of Little Sky Gelato.
Little Sky was started with a passion for better gelato (splendid, natural gelato!) free from artificial colours and flavourings, to be shared with friends and family.
In this special blog addition, we chat with Max about all things Artisan Gelato, owning and operating a small business and surviving COVID.
Where did the name ‘Little Sky Gelato’ come from?
The name came from us being a little business, and the fact that we all (big and small businesses alike) look up at the same big sky. That is, we all live on the same planet with the same sky, so we should act in a way that considers the environmental impact we all have on our own and as a business. We need to recognise we are part of a community and cannot act in isolation. All of our decisions have consequences.
How and why did you decide to open a Gelato shop?
I have always been interested in food and cooking at home. As a parent I noticed that there was a real lack of quality gelato in the local area I lived in and thought that there was a business opportunity.
When did Little Sky Gelato open? Were there any hurdles? If so, how did you overcome them?
We opened in January 2020 and there were plenty of hurdles along the way. Finding a location, finalising the design, getting permits etc were the first hurdles even before opening. Once opened we were faced with bush fires in the same week which covered Melbourne and the streets in smoke. Several weeks after that, COVID started making itself known in Melbourne and eventually, as everyone knows, we went into lock down. It was a very hard first 12 months in hospitality let alone in a brand new business without a name in the industry. We all worked hard to stay committed to our suppliers and quality, this eventually got us written up in several articles including The Age Good Food, and has helped us come out of 2020 in a good direction.
What do you believe makes Little Sky Gelato stand out in comparison to other gelato shops?
The first thing people notice is the shop; the size and design is very different to what people are used to. Once people have tried the gelato they can’t believe the taste. This is down to the quality of the gelato, due to the recipes I create and the care that goes into sourcing the ingredients. The flavours stand out better when you use higher quality ingredients in combination with recipes that use a lot less sugar.
At Little Sky Gelato, we also focus heavily on the environment. This means all of our single use items are fully compostable (for example, that means no brightly coloured plastic spoons even though they are cheaper than compostable ones) and we use green energy as well. We also compost all of our organic waste and try to re-use all of our wholesale containers by talking with our customers and helping them to better understand the importance of not wasting materials and returning containers.
What do you believe is the key to a successful gelato shop?
Quality, friendly service and consistency, most people are not adventurous with their flavours. There is no point having 95 % of your menu with wild exotic flavours when it’s only going to confuse your customer. Eating gelato should be an enjoyable experience; from the person serving you, to the taste in the cup or cone, and then finally the atmosphere. All of these combine to create the best experience.
What is your best-selling gelato?
There is not one stand out, it’s probably shared between Chocolate, Salted Caramel, Iced Coffee and our signature Cookies and Cream.
What has been your most rewarding experience in the industry?
There are two things that really stand out: First is the learning of a totally new industry and how it works. Second is meeting new customers each day, seeing their reaction when tasting our gelato for the first time and hearing how my gelato takes them back to their holiday in Italy.
Where do you see Little Sky Gelato in ten years / what’s planned for the future?
It’s hard to think that far ahead, we are still so new and the industry has taken such a beating with COVID. For now, we are just making sure we can do it the best way we can until life comes back to some sort of normal. It would be nice to have new locations pop up around Melbourne, however that feels like a while away.
Little Sky Gelato is located at 332 Bay Street, Brighton VIC 3186. If you are looking to treat yourself this week (or whenever for that matter) and Little Sky Gelato falls in your radius, make sure you get down and indulge in this incredible gelato. You won’t regret it!