Marble Slab tickles students' tastebuds

Success of homemade ice cream prompts second London location

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Marble Slab Creamery products

Jonas Hrebeniuk

YOU CAN STOP DROOLING NOW. Marble Slab Creamery opened up its second London location this summer. If this picture isn't enough to make you want to visit the ice cream shoppe, you must be lactose intolerant.

Are you in the mood for some ice cream this winter? How about a few scoops of Banana Rum with cashews and raisins, or maybe Pumpkin mixed with cookie dough and marshmallow in a white chocolate waffle cone?

It shouldn’t sound too out of the ordinary if you’ve had a chance to indulge in the limitless combinations of flavours and toppings available at Marble Slab Creamery.

“We see bizarre ‘mixins’ all the time,” says Rick Bruijns, owner of the franchise’s Richmond Row and Masonville locations. “I once had a customer add 18 variations of nuts and candy into three different flavours of ice cream. Another ordered black walnut ice cream, which is an acquired taste, with marshmallows, smarties and sprinkles.”

Tubs of freshly made ice cream, hand-dipped waffle cones, made-from-scratch treats, and a tantalizing array of toppings have recently made London’s newest ice cream parlour the sweetest ticket in town.

“You truly have to come in and experience it to really understand,” Bruijns says. “What keeps our customers coming back time and time again is the quality taste of our ice cream made daily at each location.”

On any given day, you can find ice cream enthusiasts like Amy Sanders lining up for a little piece of heaven.

“When I come here it’s like the first time all over again because I always try something new,” she says. “You can fulfill pretty much any craving you have and get a completely personalized treat.”

Others like Meaghan Gonser enjoy Marble Slab for its old fashioned appeal.

“I like how all the ‘mixins’ are displayed in jars on the counter so you can see exactly what they have. It’s also a good place to meet up with friends because you can sit and chat as you enjoy your ice cream.”

Although the demand for one-of-a-kind desserts at the downtown location was high enough for Bruijns to open a second location in the north end, there wasn’t always such a crowd.

“When we first opened there was a lot of confusion as to what Marble Slab Creamery was all about,” he explains. “Being an American franchise, it was not a familiar brand to most so we needed to gain momentum and spark interest.”

Through a series of promotional advertisements and door-to-door coupons delivered throughout London, the excitement grew.

“Our most important and ultimately successful advertising was done through word of mouth as first time customers told their friends. The most rapid growth came when Western and Fanshawe students returned for the school year,” Bruijn says. “They caught wind of the hype in town and kept coming back even as the winter months progressed.”

In just over a year, Bruijns became the franchise owner of the first two Marble Slab Creamery locations in Ontario.

“Before we opened there were only locations out in Alberta, but everything fell into place and we were able to open the first in London,” he says.

Bruijns, who was involved in business management prior to scooping ice cream, had been researching franchise opportunities when he came across the premium ice cream parlour.

“My wife and I were in Cincinnati when we had our first Marble Slab experience and we immediately fell in love with the ice cream. So we got home and decided to inquire about franchise opportunities.”

Now Bruijns is the proud owner of two of the Houston, Texas ice cream chain’s 23 locations across Canada in British Columbia, Alberta, and Ontario, with more opening soon.

Having the chance to sample endless possibilities of flavours and combinations on a daily basis makes it hard for one to decide on a favourite, but Bruijns has his heart set firm.

“I love double dark chocolate with cheesecake, dark cherries, Skor and almonds,” he says. “All my staff knows it, and I always get it in a waffle bowl.”

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