Bryan Beilke

Frequenters of San Luis Obispo’s Farmers’ Market may be familiar with Dean Giordano, a man happy to hand out samples of his unique, healthy frozen-fruit delicacy, G’s Italian Freeze.

Giordano posted a booth for four weeks at the weekly bazaar on Higuera Street at the end of September and beginning of October, and received a great response from market attendees. News of a vacancy on 1126 Morro St. prompted Giordano to believe, “This is the time to (open a shop). It’s either now or never.”

G’s Italian Freeze had its soft opening Jan. 9, and once Giordano signs up with the Chamber of Commerce, a grand opening will ensue with a ribbon cutting ceremony some time in the near future. Giordano signed a contract with the building owners about two months ago, and he has played a part in every step of the process since. Not only has he developed his product and the theme for his shop, he painted the walls, refinished the floor, put in a three-compartment sink and fixed the plumbing.

Giordano has just one partner, Ken Colbert, a high school buddy, who will be the financial brains of the operation. Aside from Colbert, Giordano will be the sole employee at his store for the first month or two so he can meet the people coming in and tell them about his product.

“I’m just a perfectionist freak with this, so it’s got to be perfect every time. If you get it wrong one time, they’re not going to like it,” Giordano said. “But right now I think it’s all dialed in and that’s why I’m more anal about staying here and making sure it’s done right.”

In 1999, before his daughters were born, Giordano, who used to work as an auto broker, had a booth with his frozen creation near the Pismo Beach Hotel on weekends as a side job. Giordano ceased the Pismo Beach operation so he could spend more time with his budding family, but continued to conjure up his recipe for his daughters’ birthdays and soccer games over the years.

Giordano explained that his fruit concoction – which comes in orange, strawberry, pineapple and lemon flavors – is “a product that everyone loves – the adults, the kids, myself. It’s just something that San Luis hasn’t had. It’s definitely a treat that’s been specialized,” he said.

Unlike Italian ice, which is made from fruit purees, shaved ice (ice with syrup poured over it) or gelato (which is made with dairy products), G’s Italian Freeze is a non-dairy, cholesterol- and fat-free product made from whole fruits. Fruit, sugar, ice and some other secret ingredients are mixed together at one time to make a sweet and creamy product with a texture unlike other frozen treats.

Aside from the pineapples he uses, all the lemons, strawberries and oranges are locally grown in either Cayucos, Arroyo Grande or Santa Maria. The orange flavor tastes as if you’re biting into an extremely sweet orange. The strawberry flavor reminded me of all-fruit frozen bars, but with a smoother consistency. The pineapple, the most impressive flavor, tasted like, well, a pineapple, but a very cold, smooth, ripe one.

Giordano hopes to instill a flavor of the month as well; he said his first one will probably be raspberry. He is very open to suggestions from customers, some of which have recommended tangerine or cherry as possible flavors. He explained that he would play around with some recipes, but for now, he will stick to his main four. He said they have always yielded wonderful results, especially among his two best taste testers, his 4- and 7-year-old daughters.

Giordano comes from an Italian family with a tradition in cold treats. His great-grandfather, Calogero Giordano, owned an ice cream and soft drink cart in California. A picture of the elder Giordano standing in front of his cart in 1913 hangs in G’s Italian Freeze. Giordano said this picture shows the entrepreneurial spirit of his family. His great-grandfather also made sorbets, but advertised ice cream because it was the American thing to say. Giordano’s uncle, his father’s brother, also ran a gelato shop.

Giordano has been playing with his recipe over time and said the key to his product is all in the texture, which is highly affected by the freezing temperature he uses. He makes the freeze daily in small batches to ensure freshness. Because all freezers are different, and Girodano is used to making his treats for single occasions like soccer games, he said, “I wanted to open up in the winter time, so I can work all the bugs out. So by summer, it hopefully will be hoppin’.”

Along with his frozen treats, Giordano also sells his original recipe – European or Baine-Marie style hot chocolate made with Ghirardelli chocolate. The treat is like an Italian sipping chocolate, a product that you can eat with a spoon due to its thickness, but thinned out so it’s drinkable.

“It’s a lot richer than what you’d find in different coffee shops,” he said.

Customers also have the option of adding one of six flavored syrups to the chocolate for no charge.

“I have something for the winter and something for the summer,” Giordano explained.

The chocolate beverage is similar to drinking a warm, melted milk chocolate bar. Dina Victoria, the owner and designer of Little Laura Lou Clothing Company, located next to Giordano’s shop, said, “I think it’s better than regular hot chocolate.” She said it is much creamier, and the consistency is different than other drinks she has tried.

Victoria, whose favorite freeze flavor is orange, met Girodano when he was moving into the building two months ago and said that one reason he may succeed in this business is because “he and his family are just really nice people.” She explained that he puts love and care into what he does and, like many family shop owners in San Luis Obispo, he is driven more by passion than money.

Down the road, Giordano might begin to sell Italian-style sausages and pastries, and possibly non-dairy smoothies with his freeze as a base. He has tried to get in touch with catering services on campus because students at the Farmers’ Market suggested he bring his product to Cal Poly. He is also open to catering at barbecues, corporate events or weddings.

“In the future, if people did call and say, ‘Hey, we love your product. Can you bring it over to our birthday party?’ I’d be all over that,” he said.

If his San Luis Obispo location works out, Giordano and Colbert will try to expand to other cities like Atascadero and Paso Robles. But for now, he is just focusing on his San Luis Obispo shop.

“I don’t want to get too overwhelmed with what’s going to happen in the future. I just want to get this off the ground,” Giordano said, adding, “Being that it’s my first business, I’m just trying to take it step by step.”

Giordano wants his shop to grow with the community and become an established place that people come to see in San Luis Obispo. “It will be a fun ride, to say the least,” he explained. “The best part about it now is that I’m finally open.”

And as he says to his customers as he offers them a taste of G’s Italian Freeze, “You come in, you try it. You either like it or you love it.”

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