Oak Bay ice cream shop that reduces food waste a BC small business finalist
Pears past their prime, ugly lemons and bits scraped from a freshly baked tray of almond croissants all contribute to the unexpected flavours at 49 Below Craft Ice Cream.
They’re also part of key connections in the business community that aims to reduce food waste.
The Oak Bay business launched its upcycled ice cream initiative last fall, deriving interesting flavours while keeping the tasty bits from the popular almond croissants at GoodSide Pastry House out of the trash. The program started with bruised and damaged fruit from Root Cellar making its way from the market to the ice cream kitchen, 49 Below owner Dan Edler explained.
“It’s kind of fun because it keeps us on our toes because we never know what we’re going to get,” he said.
It raises the stakes for the chef team and spurred some fun combinations, such as the popular lemon graham bar where the team hand-zested and squeezed 100 pounds of lemons. That one was popular enough people still ask for it and the follow-up pear chai crumble, made with Silk Road Tea.
It’s among the initiatives that put 49 Below in the pack of 18 selected from hundreds of nominees as a finalist for the business impact award in the annual Small Business BC Awards.
A small team that comes up with amazing ideas, upcycling is just one example of the cooperative projects that set them apart, Edler said.
For example, the philanthropint introduced a couple years ago, in which the minds behind 49 Below partner with individuals and businesses who come up with a flavour. The team concocts the flavour, sells it and donates all proceeds to the charity of the individual’s choice.
Last year, Edler worked with Willows elementary student Jackson Edgley to create Ocean Explosion and raise money for environmental stewardship in the Salish Sea.
In other community initiatives, they recently embarked on a pint drive to raise funds with the Reynolds Reybots – a Saanich secondary school robotics team heading to Texas for competition this month. During a drive, patrons can use a code found online or in store and use it for 10 per cent off pints (up to four) and the business matches funds for the team.
All recyclables with a deposit go to the Oak Bay High Alumni Association for the campaign to resurface the school’s Jack Wallace Memorial Track.
Residents have also welcomed the boutique ice cream business to the neighbourhood. 49 Below opened its Willows Plaza kitchen and storefront in August 2022, just in time for the lingering wet weather to clear and actual summer to begin. Now, people are automatically making the connection and when the thermostat rises, so does the walk-in traffic.
The business impact award honours businesses that use aptitude in areas like sales, marketing, logistics, finances and operations toward positive action in their community.
Winners will be announced at an awards gala June 2 and winners of each category receive a $10,000 prize.