Cafe Frutta Fresca Gelato Company Celebrates 3rd Anniversary
By Camille Birdsong
Cafe Frutta Fresca Gelato is a gelato and sorbet (Italian ice cream) manufacturing business with a restaurant and retail store at 322 Sneads Ferry Road. In the quaint shrimping village of Sneads Ferry, NC, this woman-owned and minority-owned business is celebrating 3 years in business this weekend with a Farm Market. The events will include music Friday, Aug 21, 3-7 pm, and a free Zumba class on the lawn Saturday, Aug. 22 from 11 am to 12 pm while practicing social distancing.
Saturday’s festivities from 11-6 pm will also include music, free treats and samples of their unique gelato and sorbet flavors including (Lime Cilantro with Candied Jalapenos non-dairy Sorbet, Lemon Basil Sorbet, Maple Bacon Gelato, Apple Pie Gelato, Lavender Honey Gelato plus many more favorite flavors.) throughout the day. Social distancing and wearing masks are required on the property and in the facility. During this time of COVID, the café is open Thursdays through Saturday from 11 am to 7 pm.
The cafe is housed in a beautiful 3,000 square foot building which used to be part of the old Methodist church. Not only does the restaurant sell their all-natural, premium gelato and sorbet, but they also serve delicious dishes such as sweet and savory crepes, Lemon Rosemary Fried Chicken and Waffles, heart-shaped pizzas, Panini sandwiches, quiche, salads, soups, specialty coffee and teas, shakes, smoothies, baked goods and specials such as their vegan and gluten-free BBQ Jackfruit Stack special (potato waffle, BBQ jackfruit, and vegan coleslaw). This is not fast food. Everything is made to order and fresh.
Things have not been easy or smooth sailing for this business since it opened in July 2017. The company has made it through three disasters, a flood during a long, cold spell that caused a water line to freeze, break loose, and flood most of the café and severe damage from Hurricane Florence causing the restaurant to be closed after the hurricane and all of 2019. The company was selling gelato on Camp Lejeune, online and pick up orders in 2019.
After hurricane repairs were finally completed March of 2020, thanks to an SBA Hurricane Florence Disaster Relief Loan which the company secured October of 2019, COVID caused a long delay in their reopening and slowed business. The company reopened the restaurant the last weekend in June of this year.
“I’ve gotten so much help and direction along this journey of opening and running my business,” Lisa Meeting explained. “I’m in business because Carolina Small Business Development Fund took a chance on me and my startup and gave my business a loan. CSB has worked with me the entire time from extending my interest-only period when renovations of the cafe building took months longer than expected, to helping my business during the aftermath of Hurricane Florence as well as offering technical services, networking/connections and training through Coastal Women’s Ventures. CSB, CWV, NC Department of Agriculture, CEED, SBTDC, Coastal Carolina Small Business Center, SBA, and so many other organizations and people have been very instrumental in helping my company get to where it is today.”
Lisa Meeting, Cafe Frutta Fresca Gelato’s owner, a Mass Communications graduate of Norfolk State University, decided to start the business after living in Naples, Italy with her family on military orders and falling in love with the frozen dessert. She learned all about gelato and how to make it from Italian gelato maestros. She then went to graduate school at Webster University and got her Masters in Business Administration MBA where she wrote her first draft of her business plan for the business.
“In 2008, the Navy sent my family and I to Italy on my spouse’s orders and we were blessed to travel all over Italy and Europe sampling amazing gelato,” Meeting said. “I was the editor of the military base newspaper during our time in Italy. When I wasn’t working, we were traveling and eating some of the best gelatos in the world. Italy is where I fell in love with gelato and came up with the idea of opening my own gelato company. Creating delicious dishes and serving others has always been my passion.”
The gelato and sorbet are made in-house from scratch with the freshest, high-quality ingredients. The company sells its gelato and sorbet products at their restaurant, online, on area military bases, wholesale to retailers, and will soon be exporting their pints to international buyers. Businesses, organizations, families, and communities can rent the company’s gelato pushcart and have gelato and sorbet served from it for special events. Cafe Frutta Fresca also offers fundraising opportunities with their pints for schools, sports teams, and non-profit organizations.
“Opening my business has been amazing, very exciting, fun, exhausting, expensive, and overwhelming at times but rewarding,” Meeting shared. “Opening day and the months that followed were very exciting. We received so many compliments and great reviews on our food, service, the concept, and the atmosphere of the café. Having everything finally come together gave me such a sense of gratitude and accomplishment. As a small business owner, you have to wear many, and sometimes all, hats for the business. It is a lot of work and you have to be dedicated, determined, passionate, committed, resilient, and love what you do.”
Cafe Frutta Fresca has big plans to grow the business and take it global. The company is working on a manufacturing expansion plan to increase its production capacity due to interest from foreign buyers. Their plan is to “spread love all over the world, one pint at a time” which is represented in their logo, a fruit-filled heart with the Fruit of The Spirit words around it, placed prominently on top of each pint of gelato and sorbet.
“My ultimate goal for my business is for it to ship our gelato and sorbet pints all over the world,” Meeting said. “To be a blessing to me, my family, my community and many others; run almost effortlessly with highly efficient processing and a great team in place; consistently create and offer excellent and delicious products; and to be one of the largest, most successful, and most profitable gelato manufacturing, exporting and wholesaling companies in the world.”
For more information or to become a vendor at their all-natural, NC products Farm Market, call 910-741-4300, email email@example.com and/or visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Cafe-Frutta-Fresca-Gelato-1744493809157687/ or their website at www.cafefruttafresca.com