The brother and sister duo at Atlanta’s Revolution Gelato is changing the way ice cream products are made–and consumed.
Prior to our interview, Leah Sitkin warms up homemade fudge sauce for the award-winning, dairy-free, all-vegan gelato that she and her brother, Jared Olkin, make at Revolution Gelato. “We make ours with cashew butter and coconut,” Leah explains. “That combination lends to a more ice-cream texture.”
Indeed, after trying Revolution Gelato myself, I was surprised at the lack of difference between their gelato and a traditional, dairy-based one. It was the dearth of vegetarian-based ice cream products that prompted Jared to start Revolution Gelato.
“My brother started the company. This started because my mom had a homemade ice cream store [The Inside Scoop] in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. My great-grandfather had a soda shop in New York. So we have a family history with ice cream. We love gelato; it’s a passion. We feel pretty strongly that what we have is a fantastic product that could go up against a lot of dairy ice creams.”
That family history continues with Revolution Gelato which, like all good ideas, was borne out of necessity.
“In college, my brother was leaning toward a plant-based diet and when he went to the grocery store the choice was either: have a delicious, dairy ice cream, or not-so-delicious, non-dairy products. No one should have to make that choice. You should never have to sacrifice quality or taste to meet your dietary needs or moral needs. That’s an integral part of our mission as a company.”
As a result, Jared started making his own ice cream, which he found to be better than anything he could by. Then life happened and the ice cream-making was put on hold as he worked his full-time job for Deloitte Consulting. He quite his job two years ago to focus on his ice cream making and Leah joined him six months later. A year ago, Revolution Gelato formally came on the market.
While you can get Revolution Gelato by the scoop at its booth in the We Suki Suki Collective, the bulk of the company’s business is via placement in various stores around the Atlanta area. “We are primarily a wholesale business. We sell pints and single-serve cups to retailers, and pans to food service.” You can find Revolution Gelato in over two dozen stores in the Atlanta area, including Candler Park Market, Sevananda Co-Op, Rainbow Natural Foods, Buford Highway Farmers Market, and Pallookaville Fine Foods; and the Loving Hut and Herban Fix vegan restaurants. Revolution Gelato products have recently been accepted into Whole Foods, so look for it in southern-area stores soon.
Still, Leah enjoys selling their award-winning gelato at their pop-up booth in the heart of East Atlanta Village and in various festivals and events around town, including the annual Atlanta Ice Cream Festival that was this past weekend. “There’s a different kind of joy in getting someone else to experience delicious gelato.”
Revolution Gelato also services private events. “We can do events, we do catering, we can do festivals.
Leah and Jared have benefited from selling their wares in the Collective. “We are going to be using this space as a combination of marketing and a flavor incubator.” The plan is to introduce a new flavor per week in the near future in small batches, which will help them decide which flavors to introduce in larger batches for their bigger productions. “We have interesting flavors. All of our flavors are really intense. We like strong flavors, so we make strong flavors.”
“We love the East Atlanta Village,” Leah said with a smile. “We’d been trying to figure out the best opportunities, had done a couple of pop-ups here [at We Suki Suki], but this space is just so awesome. We love the community and we wanted to be a part of it.” They love it so much that both Leah and Jared are moving to East Atlanta next month. “That’ll be even better, because I can walk to work, and we’ll be even more entrenched in the community.” Revolution Gelato makes sure to give back to the community that nurtures it. “We donate a lot of product. We donate a lot to the Atlanta Community Food Bank.”
Leah gives a lot of credit to Q Trinh, the owner of the We Suki Suki Collective, for helping Revolution Gelato grow. “What Q’s put together here is such a great concept. There are great partners here and it gives a lot of opportunity for people. This is not something that we would have done otherwise; it’s really hard to find a small retail spot for a reasonable rent, whereas this gives us a whole different avenue. Each business brings in different people and we cross-pollinate. This is exactly what we were looking for.”
Revolution Gelato prides itself on using the best ingredients available. “We work really hard to source our ingredients. We use local ingredients if we can but because our gelato base is coconut and cashew, none of that is grown in the U.S.” Leah and Jared like to take advantage of the underrated gardening bounty that is present in the state of Georgia when making their gelato products. “Georgia is one of the biggest producers of organic blueberries in the country,” Leah explains, “so we definitely want to do some blueberry things.”
Leah and Jared are meticulous about the ingredients used in their gelato. “We talk to all our producers and all our sources because we want to know, down to how ingredients are processed. We want people to look at the label and say, ‘Oh, this is stuff that I want to eat. I know what this is.’” Indeed, Revolution Gelato has opted not to use certain suppliers because they were not pleased with how their ingredients were processed. “We use all-organic ingredients, though we’re not certified yet.”
The focus now turns to how Revolution Gelato can grow further. “We have the capacity to scale up, so we’ll see how it goes. We’re working on our waffle cone recipe; everything we do is dairy-free, it’s all-vegan–but delicious. We’ll roll out cookie ice cream sandwiches, different gelatos, until we either perfect something or decide, ‘Hey, this may just be a local thing before we roll it out on a bigger scale.’”
Since Leah and Jared are both vegetarians, they also like to further care for the environment by selling their retail gelato in biodegradable cups and with biodegradable spoons, which are both made with plant-based products and are compostable. The labels on the wholesale packaging are also biodegradable, but there doesn’t exist much in the way of freezer-ready packaging that is biodegradable, but all of our packaging is recyclable. It’s important to us.”
Revolution Gelato is leading the revolution in ice cream products that are good for both your tummy and the environment. Mother Earth and your customers salute you. But don’t take my word for it; check them out for yourself.
477 Flat Shoals Rd. SE, Atlanta, GA 30316
HOURS: Sunday-Thursday 12-9pm, Friday and Saturday 12pm – 10 pm