Although Labor Day is fast approaching, Latella Gelato of Carolina Beach isn’t slowing down any time soon. Owners Erik Dietrich and Jeanie Shaffer say their first three months in business have brought them a steady stream of tourists and locals alike.
Named after Erik Dietrich’s grandparents Mario and Valeria Latella, the business specializes in authentic Italian gelato that is made fresh daily.
Dietrich and Shaffer studied with Carpigiani Gelato University to learn the art of gelato making.
Jeanie Shaffer said it was their instructor, Silvia Bertolazzi, who inspired the couple to be creative and think outside the box when creating new flavors such as her salted avocado basil, which has been popular this summer.
Shaffer said that because everything is made in house, Latella, at 11 Boardwalk Avenue in Carolina Beach, has lots of freedom to experiment. Sixteen rotating flavors are served daily and Shaffer and Dietrich now have about 78 creations in total.
Some of their favorites include traditional Italian flavors such as chocolate hazelnut and pistachio, as well as new creations like jalapeno cornbread, pineapple rosemary and spicy hot chocolate made with ghost peppers.
“We get lots of flavor suggestions from our customers and we welcome new ideas from our employees as well,” Shaffer said. “Not all of them are successful, but it takes a few failures to come up with something great.”
Shaffer describes gelato as having a creamier texture than traditional ice cream. This is because it contains less heavy cream than ice cream, and less air is incorporated during the blending process, yielding a richer flavor as well.
In addition to gelato, Latella serves dairy-free sorbetto, smoothies, milkshakes, slushies, and hot and cold coffee and espresso drinks.
Allan Fox and Don Harley, agents with Coldwell Banker Commercial SunCoast, negotiated the 1,701-square-foot lease for Latella Gelato at 11 Boardwalk Avenue in Carolina Beach, representing both the tenant and the building owner in the lease, according to a news release.
“Latella Gelato did an outstanding job with the build-out of their space,” said Fox in the release. “The interior design, the tile work and the overall quality of the finishes are really extraordinary.”
With the Latella Gelato lease, the contiguous buildings at 11 Boardwalk Avenue and 12 Carolina Beach Avenue N are now fully leased. These properties replaced the former arcade building that burned down at the same location in 2014. Additional tenants within the property include Go Sauce Yourself, Sea Bee Subs, Carolina Beach Arcade and Seaside Gifts.
The buildings were rebuilt in time for the 2016 summer season, and with the Latella Gelato lease, were full this summer, said owner Joe Meir, president of Blue Ridge Realty of Raleigh.
Meir has been pleased with the way leasing has gone for the new buildings and attributes the success in part to Carolina Beach.
"I think it’s a really good example of urban planning, and I think the town has done a very good job of infrastructure improvements, the Boardwalk and putting power lines underground and benches and light fixtures and all that, and it really created a beautiful place," he said. "I think with all the improvements the town has made in the past five or six years, they’ve created a destination where people are coming there, even if they’re not going to the beach, to shop and get a bite to eat."
Latella Gelato is open noon until 10 p.m. Monday-Friday and 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday through Labor Day. Hours may be scaled back for the off-season.
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Staff writer Cece Nunn contributed to this report.