North Buffalo’s fate as Western New York’s premier ice cream destination will be sealed Saturday at 8 a.m, when Lloyd Taco Factory offshoot Churn officially opens its doors to the public.
Churn, a soft serve and coffee shop, will join Lake Effect Ice Cream and Hertel Avenue Poutine & Cream as the third business with a focused ice cream program to open on Hertel this year. But lest you worry that the market is at risk of saturation, rest assured that Churn, like Lake Effect and Poutine & Cream, fills a particular frozen dairy niche.
In Churn’s case, that niche is premier, from-scratch soft serve ice cream—a rarity (perhaps even a singular achievement) in Western New York. Sure, these parts abound with frozen custard stands, but the majority of those rely on an ice cream base purchased from one of two major manufacturers. That’s where Lloyd owners Peter Cimino and Chris Dorsaneo saw opportunity.
“I don’t think anyone has taken soft serve to another level,” Pete said at a recent media preview.
No strangers to tackling food ventures without precedent in Buffalo, Cimino and Dorsaneo took on the challenge. At Churn, flavors like vanilla, chocolate, and matcha are made entirely in house using cane sugar; whole milk and cream from Ithaca-resident, grass-fed cows; and top-shelf flavoring agents. Vegan soft serve, with coconut as its foundation, gets the same premier treatment, minus the dairy. The result is a product Cimino calls “as homemade as you can get.”
Churn’s next-level soft serve differentials don’t end there. Recognizing that half the fun of ice cream is the toppings, Cimino and Dorsaneo wanted to be sure equal thought and care were put into the flavor profiles and components of the sundaes, mix-ins, and curated cones that constitute the shop’s menu. To that end, they brought on board pastry chef Ann (Panda) Tran, formerly of Aro Bar de Tapas, to oversee the menu’s development and execution.
Under her direction, Churn is launching with creations like the Gramma Angie—vanilla soft serve coated in oatmeal raisin cookie crumbles, chocolate chips, and cream cheese frosting—and the De la Lloyd—chocolate soft serve coated in Aztec brownie and Oreo crumbles, cocoa nibs, and “spice dust.” Both come on waffle cones, cooked fresh daily. If you prefer ice cream in a cup, sundaes like Shortie Cake—vanilla soft serve with lemon shortcake, meringue cookies, and seasonal fruit compote (strawberries, for the time being)—fit the bill. Soon enough, you’ll also be able to pick up novelties like paletas, choco tacos, and ice cream bars and sandwiches.
Of course, if all you want is a simple twist with sprinkles, Churn can do that, too.
The commitment to quality at Churn extends to the coffee. To ensure it met their standards, Cimino and Dorsaneo hired Tipico owner Jesse Crouse to advise them on their roasts and train Churn’s baristas. The hope is that Churn’s early hours coupled with the strength of its coffee program will conspire to make it a destination not just for Buffalo’s ice cream junkies but the city’s under-caffeinated as well.
After its Saturday launch, Churn will close Sunday, July 16, for retooling. Starting Monday, it will be open seven days a week from 8 a.m. until 11 p.m. Schedule subject to change.