The ice cream wars are … well … heating up a bit.
The newest contender: Bruster’s Real Ice Cream, scheduled to open in November at 2862 S. Durango Drive near The Lakes.
You may have noticed that we have lots of ice cream places in Southern Nevada, more all the time. So why Bruster’s?
“Because it’s the best ice cream in the world,” said Dave Soumas.
Which you’d expect Soumas to say, since he’s the local franchisee continuing the Western expansion of the 200-unit Pennsylvania-based company, which already has shops in Southern California and Phoenix. Soumas is an IT guy who discovered Bruster’s while living and working in Pittsburgh, near the company’s home base of Bridgewater, Pennsylvania. After moving back to his hometown of Los Angeles, marrying his high-school sweetheart and relocating to Las Vegas in 2016, he was looking for a business to open and the all-franchise Bruster’s was it.
Because, Soumas said, it really is different. The cream used to make the ice cream is sourced in the bucolic acreage near Bridgewater, population 884, along the Beaver River.
“It starts with everything coming out of a dairy that’s controlled by the brand,” Soumas said. The mix, which has a high butterfat content, is made with a slow pasteurization process and shipped to the shops — a process the company likes to call “cow to cone.”
“We have a unique process where we don’t freeze anything to zero degrees,” he said. “We maintain the ice cream at 8 to 12 degrees, so it doesn’t introduce ice into the product. Our freezers don’t even have defrost cycles.”
Soumas said that having learned about the industry and becoming an “ice cream snob,” he’s realized that most people don’t know that many ice cream shops don’t make their products on-site.
“There aren’t too many people in town who make their own ice cream,” he said. “Cold Stone and Maggie Moo’s use a similar process (to Bruster’s), but we put all our goodies in the ice cream at the time we make it,” instead of focusing on mix-ins, as those chains do. After the items are added to complete the flavors, it takes up to 12 hours for Bruster’s ice cream to reach the ideal temperature.
Bruster’s also will be making waffle cones in the shop; “it’s not uncommon to smell that as you walk up,” he said. Ice cream cakes, pies and other items will be available as well.
And walk up you will, as Bruster’s shops have no inside dining.
“It’s walk-up window service, just like the custard shops back East,” Soumas said. “It’s all about bringing the kids and walking up to the window.” In deference to the local climate, he’s planning a 2,000-square-foot covered “mini-park” with seating, turf and misters. His also will be one of the few Bruster’s shops with a drive-thru.
The company’s recipe book lists 150 flavors, and 30 will be in rotation each day. They’ll likely include Soumas’ own favorite, which is birthday cake, and the mint-chocolate chip favored by his wife, Jill. His 7-year-old daughter, Rebecca, is partial to chocolate, and it and other classic flavors like vanilla, strawberry, butter pecan and cookies and cream will be in heavy rotation. Sherbets, ices, and sorbets with vegan, no-sugar-added and fat-free options also will be available.