It started on a crisp fall day in 2008 at a picnic table on Washington Street, not far from where the shop stands today. Two friends, ready for a change, shared a dream of opening an ice cream shop. Not just any ice cream shop mind you, but a shared community place where all would be welcome to gather, talk, laugh, and try amazing ice cream. Out of this dream The Penny Ice Creamery was born.
At the time when Kendra and Zach started talking they were both engaged in other ventures. Kendra was the Executive Pastry Chef at the two Micheline star Manresa Restaurant, one of the top 50 restaurants in the world, and Zach was directing operations and product development at a San Francisco startup, as well as completing his GreenMBA at Dominican University of California. Despite the energy and excitement of their careers, they both felt a strong pull to return to Santa Cruz and work to enhance the community they love.
Kendra and Zach spent months sharing thoughts and concepts, eventually putting them down on paper, and slowly a business plan emerged. It was not an easy time to be starting a business. The financial collapse had banks sitting on their cash, and most conversations about small business loans went nowhere. Then one day Zach walked in to Lighthouse Bank and sat down with Bob Dennis, head of the Lighthouse SBA loan department. Lighthouse was itself only a couple years old at that point, and they were eager to do business.
Despite their willingness to talk, Kendra and Zach still represented a risk, as new business owners with no direct experience running their own operation. It became apparent that a small business loan guaranteed by the Small Business Administration was they way to go. Still, at this point the economy was fragile, and a 7(a) loan was only guaranteed to 75%. Then in February of 2009 Congress passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act which, among a great many other things, allowed the SBA to increase their loan guarantee to 90%. This was the security Lighthouse needed, and Kendra and Zach got their loan.
The buildout of the shop at 913 Cedar Street took nearly seven months to complete. Kendra and Zach wanted to preserve as much of the character of the ninety year old Spanish Colonial Revival building as possible, while improving its energy efficiency and complying with modern building codes. The design was done by Christian Nielsen of Nielsen Architects, and the remodel involved all new building-wide electrical, plumbing, and HVAC; insulation, new windows, structural retrofits, and the installation of a new kitchen. The work was done exceeding Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards, and while Kendra and Zach lent strong backs, the bulk of the work took place under the steady hands and watchful eyes of Santa Cruz Green Builders.
As the shop neared completion, industrial designer Timerie Gordon, along with local artisans Five Feet from the Moon, stepped in to add finishing touches, creating a space that is as warm and welcoming as it is clean and efficient.
On August 24th, 2010, The Penny Ice Creamery opened for business. The reception was overwhelming, and the Penny quickly became a Santa Cruz institution. [Wallace Baine]