By Kelly Lovering
There I sat, surrounded by the aftermath of Lake Effect Artisan Ice Cream’s undertakings. Satisfied and guilt-free, I stared at the empty cartons: Green Tea and White Chocolate, Frozen Hot Chocolate, Crystal Beach Loganberry, Salty Caramel, and Banana Pancakes.
Spoon in hand, I was willing to take on the other 50 plus flavors that co-owners Erik Bernardi and Jason Wulf had concocted.
Wulf and Bernardi established their ice cream business in 2008. Since then, the company has grown substantially. Retail has spread into local supermarkets including the Lexington Co-op Market, Tops Markets (Lockport), Dessert Deli, Niagara Produce and soon Tops Markets (Lewiston) and Budwey’s Supermarkets.
“One thing we have really come to find is that people from Buffalo are fiercely loyal to Buffalo and everything made here,” Bernardi said.
There are approximately 13 flavors sold in regional stores, and the co-owners will change two special edition flavors every few months. After seeing the Queen City Roller Girls (bout this Saturday) at a local festival and asking them to taste test a variety of flavors, Lake Effect and the Roller Girls reached out to one another to work collaboratively. Appropriately, Wulf and Bernardi conceptualized the new, Queen City Girls Rocky Road flavor. All the proceeds will go to benefit the Roller Girls’ team.
“We are a new business and we want to have positive exposure. So many people are in need, and collaborating allows us to get to know them and work with community. Everything we do we has a personal connection to it. We like to help people out,” Wulf said. “I really enjoy working with like-minded people and at a natural pace.”
Lake Effect has donated ice cream to help causes such as Breast Cancer Awareness, Huntington’s Disease Society of America, Kenmore East and Lockport high schools, the YWCA, The Buffalo Zoo and several others.
“We want to grow, sure that each step we take is based on the solid footing we started with. We don’t want to blow our houses of the water. We want to see growth in both what we offer and what we can say we made as profit,” Bernardi said.
Somehow, knowing the attitude behind it makes the ice cream taste that much better. With everything from the locally infused flavors to the thoughtful design and containers, Lake Effect takes the frozen dessert to fresh new levels. The company makes every effort to stay as local as they can, using products from Upstate Farms, Hoover Dairy and Ellicottville Brewing Co.
These gentlemen know ice cream. Wulf worked in dairy for Tops Markets, and Bernardi worked for two competing scoop shops, growing up. Aside from their love of delectable dairy, they have been life-long friends, classmates and co-workers. Both entrepreneurs work as full-time teachers for the Lockport City School District.
There is a lot of care and hope that goes into each pint of ice cream. The Lake Effect team works tirelessly in any spare moment they can find to build their business, help the community and dream up a bigger, bolder flavor than the last.
Where do the two weigh in on the grand scale of flavors?
“I recommend the Frozen Hot Chocolate,” Bernardi said.
“And I recommend Banana Pancakes,” Wulf added.
Good luck getting started–I barely made it to my couch before the first pint was gone.