La La Homemade Ice Cream & Luncheonette is offering their menu items by way of pick-up and delivery. Photo by Jennifer Lisburg
The good news is, we’re finally approaching ice cream season. The bad news is, pandemic. Fortunately, stay-at-home orders and social distancing don’t need to keep you from a few scoops of your favorite frozen sweet treat this summer.
La La Homemade Ice Cream & Luncheonette, along Hennepin Avenue in Uptown, Minneapolis, is one of the many local eateries who are open for business. But that business is operating differently because of COVID-19.
Owner Jennifer Lisburg has modified her menu somewhat, but is serving up her signature scoops again following a brief hiatus. Customers can grab a cone or pint in person at a modified, regularly sanitized counter setup or place orders online for pickup or delivery.
Ice cream is one of the few things getting me through these dark times, so I considered myself lucky earlier this month when I got the chance to snag a few of La La’s pints. At the top of the list is my hands-down favorite, Marzipan Chip. Dark chocolate chips dot a delightfully light and fragrant almond ice cream. Anything with almond and I’m there. There are plenty of classics too, like cocoa chocolate (which instantly reminded me of childhood) and fresh strawberry, as well as playful specialties like Charlotte’s Web (toasted coconut and semi-sweet chopped chocolate in real vanilla ice cream) and Raspberry Honey (honey and fresh raspberries swirled through raspberry ice cream). In addition to ice cream, look for additional menu items to expand as time goes on.
I was able to catch up with Jennifer as she was poised to re-open and asked her what running an ice cream business in this particularly difficult moment is like.
How has La La adapted in response to COVID-19?
La La has taken some time to adapt to the current situation. La La is no longer a walk-in store, but is now a walk-up service “window” (more like a doorway). Guests can also order on the online store for pick-up, and we are also connected to two delivery services, UberEats and GrubHub.
How have your customers responded to these changes?
La La opened [in early May] for a trial run to see how things ran with the restructure in place and the first online orders. The response was very supportive. The weather was great and so was business.
Have there been any pleasant surprises, unforeseen positives in this moment?
La La usually does a lot of off-site events during the summer season both public (farmers markets, Pride, etc,) and private ( weddings, graduations, etc.). Almost all of the regular events attended have been cancelled. Although this means less revenue overall, it also means less cost to the business to support those events (labor, supply, event fees), and less overall stress!
How did you first become passionate about ice cream?
As a child, I knew the difference between good ice cream and bad ice cream, like the novelties from a store that were covered with frost or freezer burned. I also was in awe of the Good Humor man. Back then (I’m old), he was quite the sight in a clean white uniform with delicious fresh ice cream treats, his shiny silver change dispenser on his belt, and of course, his hat.
What’s your favorite flavor?
My favorite year-round La La signature flavor is Raspberry Honey. My favorite seasonal flavor is Sweet Basil Vanilla.
Is there anything else you want people to know about La La?
La La puts a lot of love in everything made here. I personally make 90 percent of the products served both sweet and savory (a small food menu has been added: sandwiches, soups, salads, flatbreads and will be adding picnics for 2-6 people). I take pride in everything made to serve our guests. The ice cream flavors range from traditional to inventive, and are creamy and flavor forward. The food is simple, clean, and delicious. Like the food I would serve you in my home. As a mom and a grandmother and being in food and beverage for 47 years, I have made a lot of food for a lot of people. I have had La La for 27 years. I love what I do, I love to serve and accommodate people with satisfying goodness, and create and give an overall experience with grace and beautiful products.
While our future remains uncertain and, frankly, ominous, there are some things we know for sure. Supporting local businesses like Jennifer’s, especially in a moment like this, is key to maintaining a vibrant community. And also, ice cream is the best dessert. Put those two together and you might just find yourself heading (socially distanced and with a mask, of course) to La La Homemade Ice Cream & Luncheonette.
La La Homemade Ice Cream
3146 Hennepin Ave.