Ice cream vendor opens up on lower John Street - exceeds cash flow projections before three months of operation.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

September 4th, 2018



Setting up a new business in downtown Burlington is both a challenge and an exciting opportunity when the whole family is involved. For Marie Helene Mongrain and Steven Hewson and their daughters Ericka, the 17 year old who is getting great experience as a shift supervisor and Emma, 12 – and a little too young to be working retail but very much involved in thinking how the business relates to the city this is an all hands on deck operation.

Store front

Newest retailer in the downtown core. Lineups at 10 pm.

Serving ice cream in a shop that might be quiet in the mid-afternoon of a weekday but is as busy as a shop can be on the hot weekend days as far into the night at 10 pm when they close is a truly family business.

They opened three months ago on John Street, steps away from Lakeshore Road, which is as downtown as you are going to get and are recording cash flow numbers that are 40% higher than projected.

Smack in the middle of the condo alley and yards away from Spencer Smith Park the site is perfect said Steven. “We looked at a number of locations but there was nothing that we felt was what we needed. When we walked by this location we knew we were going to take it the moment we saw it.


I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!

Crème de la Crème is more than an ice cream store. You start by standing in line, there is always a line – short and it moves quickly. While you are in that line you get handed a menu – yes a menu to help you decide what you want. The choice of toppings is something to behold.

Then you watch as your order is made up. You choose the cup or cone size you want and in a matter of minutes you begin to enjoy the taste of really good ice cream.

The ice cream and toppings are brought in from Mavros, a Toronto supplier.

The chocolate offerings which are just short of magnificent are from Leonidas, a chocolate manufacturer with the right to use the emblem of the Court of Belgium.

The chocolate that is dripped over the ice cram is also imported from Belgium.

Marie, a nurse by training who still has that hint of a French accent in her voice, is very much a full partner in this venture. She had wanted to be in something that was a family business for a long time – she just wasn’t sure what that business would be.

They two met in Banff at a time when Steven didn’t know quite what he wanted to do with his life. He tells his side of the romance this way: “I went to Banff to ski and came home with a wife.” Marie Helene just smiles while she spoons ice cream from a small cup.

Steven worked in marketing and was involved in setting up franchise operations in the automotive field with several partners and decided to leave the security of something that was certain and get into retail which is always far from certain.

The core part of the business is doing very well – Steven and Marie are already thinking their way through the next level of the business they are building. Additional locations? Hamilton and Stoney Creek are getting a close look.

Chocolate choices

The fine chocolate choices will increase.

The current Burlington customer base is solid and growing – now they want to take that base into additional products with chocolate being an obvious choice.

Steven appears to want to become the location for the finest chocolate in the city.

With the customer count reaching 600 a day on occasions the location is adding to the vibrancy that is sometimes seen on city streets.

It takes an hour to get the shop opened up and an hour to close it down. The equipment has to be cleaned and made ready for the next shift – this is a seven day a week operation.

Fresh fruit is purchased every day.

There are currently more than 25 types of chocolate on the shelves.

logoCrème de la Crème is going the traditional marketing route of setting aside a portion of the earnings that they give back to the community.

Their youngest daughter Emma chooses an ice cream flavour for each month which gets promoted as Emma’s Choice. Included in the recent choices – there have been just the three so far, was a Pride ice cream.

Is ice cream a seasonal product? How do you sell it in January?

You don’t sell ice cream in January. The plan is for the whole family to take a month long vacation – somewhere south where the weather is warm and they can get there daily scoop of ice cream

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