Jeremiah’s Italian Ice Arrives, Grocer Receives $750,000 USDA Grant

A “frog squad” prepares to take the big leap and open a frozen treats store in North Asheville, a local food company receives a sizable grant to make a lasting impact, and two restaurant employees in Asheville are hired by a global one company recognized.

Italian ice slides in AVL

A cool development is taking shape in North Asheville.

Jeremiah’s Italian Ice is expected to open on Merrimon Ave. in late March. 705 will open next to Asheville Pizza & Brewing and Bruegger’s Bagels. It is the former location of Asheville Tacos & Taps.

The local franchisees are Caitlin Olson and her parents, Rusty and Diane. The family has committed to opening three franchises in the greater Asheville area over the next few years. The Merrimon Avenue location is the first of the trio.

“I grew up in Florida and Jeremiah’s was always our go-to place,” said Caitlin Olson, a US Air Force veteran. “It didn’t matter if we were happy or sad. We go to Jeremiah. It just became our family favourite.”

Jeremiah's Italian Ice is scheduled to open at 705 Merrimon Ave. in late March.  opened in Asheville.

Jeremiah’s Italian Ice opened in Florida in 1996. The company is taking an aggressive approach to further expand the brand in the South.

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A few years ago, the Olson family inquired about franchising. But it wasn’t until 2019 that the company introduced franchising opportunities and reached out to the Olsons to see if they were still interested. By this time, the family had relocated to Asheville, which is working with the company’s mission to penetrate North Carolina markets.

“We always talked about how fun it would be and what a great brand and product it is. How fun it would be if we could have one of our own one day,” she said. “We jumped at the opportunity to bring it to Asheville.”

More than 40 Italian ice cream flavors from fruity to Java are offered on the regular and changing seasonal menus. Anywhere from 24 to 26 flavors will be available at one time, Olson said.

Jeremiah's Italian Ice serves a variety of bright Italian ice cream flavors along with chocolate and vanilla soft serve.

Some of the most popular are the red raspberry, mango, cookie butter, and signature mint chocolate chip called Scoop Froggy Frog. Olson’s longtime favorite flavor is cotton candy.

“It’s lighter than ice cream and more refreshing,” Olson said. “If you’ve ever had shaved ice… it’s not. It’s thicker, it’s creamier, it’s a really fantastic product all around.”

Ice cream will also be available in vanilla, chocolate or strudel.

“It’s similar to soft serve, but it’s richer and thicker and creamier,” she said.

Customers can have the best of both worlds and order the gelati, which is a layer of Italian ice cream and ice cream.

“This is by far the most popular flavor and it’s so good,” she said.

The Asheville store operates through a drive-thru window and two walk-in windows. The treat shop will have a patio for customers.

Hours of operation are Sunday through Thursday from 12:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 12:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. Opening day and events will be announced.

“We had so many fun family memories there growing up. I hope we can bring that same vibe and environment here to Asheville where people can come with friends or family for some special fun,” Olson said. “People can come back and try a new product and hopefully fall in love with it as much as we do.”

Franchisees welcome the opportunity to contribute to the community through partnerships and collaborations with local schools, organizations and businesses.

special delivery

Mother Earth Food, a local food center and grocery delivery service, has received financial support for its sustainability.

Mother Earth Food is the recipient of the US Department of Agriculture's $750,000 Local Food Promotion Program grant for its Food Expansion Project.

The local company is a recipient of the US Department of Agriculture’s $750,000 Local Food Promotion Program grant to be used over the next three years for the Mother Earth Food Expansion Project.

The multi-faceted initiative will allow the company to further invest in local food education and marketing and increase purchasing power to support local farmers and food artisans.

“The grant gives us the opportunity to improve customer access to quality, local food and to directly support our local farmers and food artisans,” said CEO Janelle Tatum in a press release. “By working hand-in-hand with these food producers and connecting them with health-conscious consumers, we maximize the impact of local foods on our community and economy.”

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Mother Earth Food bills itself as “a farmers market delivered to your door.” Business sources are from farms and food vendors in WNC, throughout North Carolina and the surrounding states. The Mother Earth Food Expansion Project will impact 301 current and 50 additional local and regional farmers and food artisans who the company says will gain or gain access to existing and new retail and wholesale customers.

Mother Earth Food is the recipient of the US Department of Agriculture's $750,000 Local Food Promotion Program grant for its Food Expansion Project.

The company will be breaking new ground in its refer-a-friend program, revamping its website and increasing investment in local, social media and digital advertising.

The company announced it would increase access to local, nutritious foods with the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) through Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards. The minimum order value is lowered to $20 to give customers more flexibility when shopping. And the company is examining expanding the delivery areas in order to optimize accessibility.

Other parts of the plan, according to Mother Earth Food, are to strengthen operations to allow for growth and deepen relationships with suppliers.

Golden Bow honors

McDonald’s Restaurant Corporation has taken note of the performance of two Asheville employees and is “lovin’ it”.

Ashleigh Berry is General Manager of McDonald’s at 800 Fairview Road, owned and operated by Christine Nevant.

Pictured left to right are Noel Blackwood, Brandon Smith, Ashleigh Berry, Christine Nevant and Stephanie Taylor.  Noel and Stephanie work for McDonald's Corporation.

Berry is a recipient of the 2021 Ray Kroc Award for $2,500 and a trophy. It is a prestigious award given to McDonald’s top 345 restaurant managers from 60 markets worldwide.

“Ashleigh meets all criteria for this award,” Nevant said in a press release. “She took this restaurant to the top. She is a single mom and works so hard. She is the people lead for all my restaurants. She is great at recruiting and training. Ashleigh really cares about our people.”

Brandon Smith, operations manager of all six Berry’s restaurants, was selected as the recipient of a McDonald’s Mid Manager Award.

“It’s a trickle,” Smith said in a press release. “It’s an honor. We have great directors like Ashleigh and great crew members who helped me get this honor. I’m proud of Ashleigh. Her award is well deserved. She is very determined.”

Berry has worked for McDonald’s since she was a teenager, starting as a crew member at a Weaverville location owned by Naomi King. She was General Manager for 10 years, including seven years at Nevant.

Fairview Road Restaurant has embraced many collaborative initiatives led by Nevant with Berry and Smith. Berry accepted the award, recognizing the staff and the franchisee.

“It’s a token of appreciation for my team,” Berry said. “It’s an honor, but it’s a big gesture for our people. The day I heard I won, I went to the restaurant and celebrated my team. It’s a family here in this restaurant. I have a great team.”

Tiana Kennell is the food and dining reporter for the Asheville Citizen Times, part of the USA Today Network. Email her at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter/Instagram @PrincessOfPage. Please support this kind of journalism with a subscription to the Citizen Times.

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