Jimmy & His Gelato
“Welcome to An’s Dry Cleaning, can I get you some gelato?” is something practicing lawyer Jimmy Blalock (University of California-Riverside, 2006) says occasionally. An’s Dry Cleaning opened in July 2018, but Blalock and his partners have been dreaming of gelato for a lot longer.
How does a lawyer get started in gelato?
Blalock: A couple of years ago, two of my best friends and I were all sitting around. We had talked about opening up a gelato shop, because we had actually traveled abroad to Spain and had become very close friends with the [now] fourth [gelato shop] owner, David Aguilera. David is well-known in Spain for making these fantastic small-batch gelato flavors. And we looked around and thought, “Well, it’d be kinda cool to bring to California.” So we talked to him. He was on board immediately.
How did you settle on San Diego?
We decided that the community of San Diego was just this hotspot for new and upcoming food. There were all these new gastropubs and restaurants and things that were opening. So we decided that we would try to do the gelato in San Diego. There’s already some cool ice cream and gelato shops that are in San Diego, so we were definitely a bit nervous, but we wanted to bring this idea of not just serving, you know, “Here’s chocolate, here’s vanilla, here’s a pistachio gelato.” But doing these great small-batch combinations of flavors to help us stand out from the other shops.
Why An’s Dry Cleaning?
When we moved in, there was an old light-up dry cleaning sign the previous tenant left. We moved this sign all over the space while we were measuring things and trying to figure out where we were going to place everything. One night we were in the shop late with one of the designers so we were spit-firing different things and what we could do and how we could liven it up, and he was like, “Why don’t we just keep it as An’s Dry Cleaning?” And we all kind of laughed and then it just got very, very quiet. Tony was like, “That might actually work.” We ran with it and it’s been a lot of fun.
In the beginning, we had some people that came in trying to drop off their laundry. But it’s been probably about eight months since we’ve had anybody actually try to bring in their dry cleaning. So now it’s this speakeasy gelato shop, where, if you pass by it, you may not really recognize it as an actual gelato shop, but instead, as you have friends that go in or as you get more adventurous, you stop by and look in and go, “Man, there’s a lot of people in that dry cleaner.”
Cashmere, Khaki Pants, Felt?
Each flavor is a different fabric. That was fun when we had the first 50 flavors. At 100 flavors we’re really getting into some weird fabrics that nobody has ever heard of and I can’t even spell. We rotate the flavors once a week. We add in or subtract different flavors every week. Every time you come into the shop, the goal is that you can try something new, or you can find a new favorite every week. It brings people back in to taste different flavors. We know we’ve got some fan favorites and when we announce them on Instagram, people will come to the shop and be like, “All right, I’m here just for the Cotton.” Some of the fan favorites are a lot of fun because if we post those, people come in and the entire batch will be gone in one day and so sometimes we’re left with making new batches late into the night.
All in for An’s Dry Cleaning
There’s a vivid time where we were trying out different flavors and David would be giving out samples to people walking down the street going, “Oh, do you want to taste this? What do you think of this?” And just seeing peoples’ faces light up was awesome. This is the reason we do it and this still happens today.
We thought that we would service the community and really be a staple, but we never thought that it would pick up and have legs. That’s really just been through social media and through all the friends that we’ve made through opening the shop. We’re four guys who have never done food and beverage ever in our lives. We would never have expected us to run this shop that people absolutely love, and we were like, “Oh, this is an excellent product. We want to share it.” And now all of a sudden, people are coming in from different states and being like, “Oh, we got to try your gelato.”
Step Out of Your Comfort Zone
There’s never going to be a good time. You just have to do it. I think that would be my first piece of advice for anyone wanting to start their own business. My friends/owners will be the very first people to tell you that I am the worrier of the group. Had it been on me to open the shop, the shop would have never opened. I would have been planning this for years upon years and trying to figure out a good time to open it and it just never would have opened. You really just have to take the plunge and have the courage. The second part of that and kind of leads into the first is you’ve got to find people who are going to support you, but who are also just better than you. I feel like I’m the weakest member of the team and I like it that way because I’ve surrounded myself with friends who are much smarter than I am, much more creative than I am and ironically enough, it’s also the same for the Fraternity. Δ
Sweet: Cotton, the shops take on a horchata, rice, milk and cinnamon. Next would be Gabardine, which is chocolate and banana. Then Brocade, which is our triple chocolate.Milk chocolate, cocoa powder and then a chocolate brownie.
Savory: Cashmere, goat cheese and honey. The second is Tormeh, which is pistachio, saffron and honey gelato. And then the third is probably Canvas, which is our olive oil and rosemary.