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Gelato Mio majority owner Chantal Drennen is preparing to renovate the downtown shop in April.
Gelato Mio majority owner Chantal Drennen is preparing to renovate the downtown shop in April.

Harter House, Gelato Mio form partnership

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Frozen dessert shop Gelato Mio is making major moves in the coming weeks, expanding its product line into both Springfield Harter House locations and completing renovations at its downtown store, which opened in August.

Gelato Mio will place display cases with a dozen flavors of gelato – a rich, Italian-style ice cream – in the two Springfield Harter House bakeries. Gelato Mio also will receive a refrigerated display to sell Harter House bakery goods – such as cakes and cannoli – at its 207 Park Central East shop, Gelato Mio co-owner Andy Drennen said.

“We’ve been downtown, and we know what customers like,” he said, noting the 12 flavors will comprise the store’s best-selling and seasonal gelati and will rotate on a weekly basis. “They’re getting the benefit of our experience.”

Drennen said Harter House’s community-centered business model is what initially attracted him and his wife, majority owner Chantal Drennen, in late-December, when negotiations began.

“Their reputation and how they provide service is right in line with what we do,” Andy Drennen said. “It wasn’t an overnight deal. We put a lot of research into it.”

Randy Richards, co-owner of the Eastgate Harter House store, said the Gelato Mio partnership is the first business-to-business connection the company has pursued. Harter House’s six locations receive food products primarily from Kansas City, Kan.-based supplier Associated Wholesale Grocers, which has a Springfield distribution center, but Richards said AWG doesn’t carry gelato products.

“We’re always looking for new things for our customers,” he said.

“What we liked about (Gelato Mio) was the success that they are having downtown. It’s such a quality product that it fit our niche of bringing quality to our customers.”

Drennen declined to disclose financial details of the partnership.

Gelato Mio will buy Harter House bakery products directly to sell, while the gelato products within the Harter House locations will operate as a profit-sharing type of relationship.

“Since we’re local and since we’re so agile, we can have them well-stocked in minutes,” Drennen said, adding that Gelato Mio recently purchased a former school bus off of Craigslist for $2,300 that is being converted into a gelato bus, which will be used to transport product to Harter House and to events, such as the Ozark Empire Fair.

Gelato Mio will hold a Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce ribbon-cutting ceremony on April 6 at Harter House’s 1625 S. Eastgate Ave. location. Gelato Mio products are scheduled to become available this week at both Harter House locations.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony coincides with a renovation at Gelato Mio, with the owners of the 1,324-square-foot treat shop knocking down walls to add more floor space for customers and make room for the addition of a smoothie bar, Drennen said.

The Drennens hired Casey Architecture for an undisclosed amount, which also has hired an independent contractor and electrician, said Allan Casey of Casey Archtecture. Andy Drennen said that the store would be closed for a few days the week of the Harter House ribbon-cutting ceremony for the renovations to be performed.

“The timing of it happens to work out perfectly,” he said.

Gelato Mio’s expansion plans follow the completion of its first winter season.

“We were really scared about the winter time, so we had to be really creative,” Drennen said, noting the business added hot chocolate and coffee gelato to compensate. “We essentially broke even.”

Drennen declined to disclose the store’s revenues to date, but he expects Gelato Mio will at least double its sales with the Harter House expansion and addition of the smoothie bar.[[In-content Ad]]

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