Gelu Italian Ice of Grand Junction, Colo. Opens Its First Store Nicknamed the “Ice Box”

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The grand opening celebration of Grand Junction's Gelu Italian "Ice Box" continues June 13 with hot deals for cool Italian ice

The "Ice Box" - Gelu Italian Ice of Grand Junction, Colorado, offers tasty dessert and family fun

The "Ice Box" - Gelu Italian Ice of Grand Junction, Colo.'s new standalone location at 2405 F Road.

The grand opening and customer appreciation celebrations continue from 1-4 p.m. Saturday, June 13, at the “Ice Box” with a buy-one, get-one-free special for small and large cups of ice.

Most folks know Gelu Italian Ice for its bright-colored, mobile push-carts spotted at most local farmers’ markets, fairs and festivals.

Now, folks have another option to easily get their Gelu fix. The locally-owned business recently opened the Gelu Italian “Ice Box” - a standalone location - May 29 in the Sutherland’s parking lot by Mesa Mall. Hours are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.

The grand opening and customer appreciation celebrations continue from 1-4 p.m. Saturday, June 13, at the “Ice Box” with a buy-one, get-one-free special for small and large cups of ice.

“When we’re at festivals, our customers are always asking where our store is located, so now we have the ‘Ice Box,’” Karin Gookin, Gelu Italian co-owner said. The “Ice Box” will be parked all summer and early fall outside of Sutherland’s.

“Or as long as it stays hot outside,” she added.

Gelu Italian “water” ice is a mixture of fruit, water and sugar blended into a silky-smooth, refreshing dessert. It is dairy-free, gluten-free and cholesterol-free.

“We take pride in where we live and use locally grown fruits whenever possible,” Karin Gookin said. “Our mission is to provide the highest quality and best-tasting flavors that are affordable to anybody’s budget.”

“We always offer free samples. We want folks to test each flavor to find their favorite ones,” Gookin said.

Gelu still maintains its fleet of Italian ice mobile carts and is a regular at Grand Valley Food Truck Fridays. Upcoming events include all the local farmers’ market (Fruita, GJ, Palisade and Orchard Mesa), weekly Fruita Rimrock Rodeo, Country Jam, Loudwire Music Fest, Mesa County Fair, Palisade Peach Fest, Colorado Winefest and many more.

“This year we are excited to expand geographically as well,” Gookin said. “We will be at the weekly Glenwood farmers’ market, Deltarado fest in Delta, and Price International Days in Utah.” Gelu Italian Ice will also make its debut this summer at Lake Havasu, Ariz.

To staff Gelu’s growth, the business has hired more than 15 high school and college students in part-time positions.

“Our ice is made at the Business Incubator’s commercial kitchen, and we couldn’t have grown and expanded without their guidance and support,” Gookin said.

Starting a business to satisfy your own sweet tooth isn’t exactly sound, but that’s exactly what owners, John Nelson and Karin and Ronn Gookin did in August 2013. Nelson grew up eating ice in his native Brooklyn, N.Y. The 75-year-old recipe comes from his Sicilian grandmother.

"I grew up eating my Grandma Bella's homemade Italian ice, and one day I was hit with a craving so I asked her for the recipe," Nelson added. The sorbet-like dessert was a hit with friends and family and prompted Nelson to try his hand at marketing it to the masses.

Gelu Italian Ice comes in more than 20 flavors, and growing, and is served in two sizes — small, $3, or large, $4. Flavors can be mixed and matched. Gelu also sells take-home sizes ranging from pints to 3-gallon containers.

At the 2015 Taste of the Grand Valley event in Grand Junction, Colo., Gelu Italian Ice won the popular vote for “Best Sweet Creation” and came in second place in the “Best Snack” category.

“We’re not going to stop until Gelu is a household name,” Gookin said.

For more information, visit http://www.geluice.com; like them on Facebook; or follow Gelu on Twitter.

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Tracy Dvorak

Karin Gookin

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