Hawthorne Scoops – 4703 SE Hawthorne Blvd.
Scoopin’ hours – everyday,12pm-11pm
The new ice cream parlor on upper Hawthorne Ruby Jewel, is the most recent addition for sister/partners Lisa Herlinger and Becky Burnett’s vision for their company of the same name. In the fall of 2015, this hand built business moved their production warehouse into a larger location, they opened their third ice cream parlor on Hawthorne and the company is going nationwide.
Sounds like a dream come true, considering the simple beginnings that started this business into motion. Lisa moved to Portland after attending culinary school in California. She went to work as a chef at Milo’s City Cafe but eventually became interested in the idea of developing her own product. One of her inspirations was the goods being produced at the Farmer’s Markets.
Herlinger noticed that in the ice cream section of food stores they didn’t have many specialty ice cream sandwiches so she began experimenting in her home kitchen baking cookies, creating the reduction sauces for the flavor infusions and making the ice cream using all natural ingredients.
The first four ice cream cookies Lisa created were: lemon cookie with honey lavender ice cream; dark chocolate cookie with fresh mint; double chocolate cookie with peanut butter; chocolate chip cookie with French vanilla bean “ I wasn’t as interested in doing the standards, like the chocolate cookie with fresh mint but it turned out to be one of our best sellers,” she said.
The next step was to see how the market responded. Milo let her use the kitchen in off hours so she had a legal space to cook in. She handmade 50 -70 sandwiches, loaded her cooler with dry ice and began selling twice a week at a couple of different farmer’s markets. This was in 2004. The Ruby Jewel ice cream sandwiches became a hit and people began to ask where they could get them off season – this was the incentive Lisa needed to take it to the next level.
About this time Herlinger also received a one year entrepreneur in residence by winning the Food Fight 2004 from Oregon State University’s food incubator, the Food Innovation. This gave her time to develop the wholesale production of her sandwiches and with an investment from Whole Foods she was eventually able to get into the stores. Her sister Becky Burnett moved up from California and joined the team to help with the distribution and management.
The first Ruby Jewel Ice Cream Parlor serving thirteen flavors of scooped ice cream and eight different sandwiches opened in 2010 at 3713 N. Mississippi; in 2012 at 428 SW 12th Ave. and now SE Hawthorne Blvd. “We found a local dairy that made ice cream naturally without corn syrup. Now we purchase all our ice cream from the Lockmead Dairy outside of Junction City,” Herlinger said.
After twelve years of learning about the molecular process that takes place while developing ice cream and the technology for keeping it at just the right temperature to prevent ice crystals, Herlinger said she doesn’t know if she would have the nerve to start this adventure. “It’s way more complex than I imagined – to consistently serve, keep and ship a good ice cream product without it getting ice crystals,” Herlinger said, takes a lot of care.”
The new facility in northeast Portland is a testimonial to the high standard this family has focused on in creating Ruby Jewel products. The 10,000 sq. ft. warehouse is shiny and efficient with rooms for baking, packing and wrapping the sandwiches, several subzero freezers, storage supplies, outgoing loading dock, office space. They employ around fifty people and almost all of their ingredients are locally sourced.
On the day of The Southeast Examiner’s visit to their new facility the whole gang was there. Lisa’s husband, Blake Esco, was working in the warehouse, her sister Becky was in the office, sandwich makers in their department and even their son Reiter, who had the day off from school was there to help. This hive of activity and productivity is a testimonial to the fact that the entrepreneurial American spirit is alive and well.