Founded by Ohio native Jeni Britton Bauer in 2002, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream prides itself on its one-of-a-kind artisanal dessert. Food and Wine once wrote, ‘No one else makes ice cream like Jeni Britton Bauer’. While the company sells its pints in stores across the country, over the past 12 years they have also opened a number of scoop shops in random cities across America: Columbus, Cleveland, Nashville, Atlanta, Charleston and even a Zagat-rated location in Chicago.
Now Jeni’s has arrived Los Angeles with a Los Feliz location. Jeni’s ice cream is no stranger to Los Angeles; pints of the store’s most popular flavors have been sold around the city since 2004, and are carried by over 60 grocers within the LA area.
But you can only get the full Jeni’s experience by visiting the store. The clean and modern shop is staffed by friendly and cheerful staff, people who seem to love ice cream as much as the customer. Patrons choose from a long list of classic and seasonal flavors with names such as The Milkiest Chocolate in the World, Queen City Cayenne and Toasted Brioche with Butter and Black Currant Jam.
While the scoops, much like the pints at the grocery store, are pricey; a small bowl with two scoops and no toppings is around $4.50. Most reviewers insist that the treat is well worth it. The texture of each ice cream is creamy without being as rich as gelato, and each flavor earns its place on the menu with a distinct and bold taste. The Goat Cheese with Red Berries flavor oozes a real cherry taste while the goat cheese tastes fresh but not overpoweringly cheesy. The Coffee with Cream and Sugar flavor manages to actually taste like coffee without losing its ice cream sweetness. For an additional dollar, ice creams can be topped with the store’s homemade cookie “gravel”. For those who don’t want a bowl of ice cream, the store also offers frozen yogurt, sorbet and ice cream sandwiches made with macaron cookies.
As the website boasts, the first ever Jeni’s store ‘west of the Mississippi’ is located at 1954 Hillhurst Avenue in Los Feliz. The street itself is already host to several of the most popular local restaurants within the hip central LA neighborhood. In a conversation with Britton Bauer, the ice cream innovator explained the philosophy behind choosing this cozy Los Feliz location.
“I like the idea that you might go to dinner, walk around, get some ice cream; there’s more than one thing to do when you’re located by like-minded businesses. Those are the places we chose to be: places that have a really neighborhood-y feel. Community is really important to us.”
Bauer continues: “None of our stores are exactly alike. Every store is designed for the neighborhood they are in. We want to feel like we’ve created a space that’s worthy of the neighborhood.”
One of the ways Jeni’s created a unique space for Los Feliz was by contracting HAHASOSO, a Los Angeles-based remodeling company, to craft custom-made counters and tables for the store. Britton Bauer describes the aesthetic of this new location as intimate and bright, like a terrazzo.
As for choosing Los Angeles as the newest Jeni’s city? Britton Bauer says that it was the diversity and talent of the city that drew her.
‘I love cities with big artistic communities. Nashville is the same way, Atlanta is the same way, these cities where I always see talent arrive,’ said Bauer. “If you’re a talented person, and I would include, of course, us and ice cream in that, you want to be in these cities, with people who are coming from all over to contribute to this amazing culture.”