By Nick Smith
Josh Fields/Arizona Daily Wildcat
UA alumni Jeff Kaiserman, left, and Steven Ochoa own Frost: A Gelato Shoppe, located at the corner of West Ina and North Oracle roads at the Casas Adobes Shopping Center. The business opened in May and serves more than 1,200 people each Saturday during the summer.
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Monday, November 28, 2005
Two UA alumni didn't have to worry about finding a company to work for after graduation; they started their own.
Jeff Kaiserman and Steven Ochoa, who graduated in fall and spring 2003 respectively, are the owners of Frost: A Gelato Shoppe, located at the corner of West Ina Road and North Oracle Road at the Casas Adobas Shopping Center.
The shop opened during the last week in May, and is marking its six-month anniversary of being in business this week, Kaiserman said.
Though the two said they knew they wanted to start a business together, the tougher choice was settling on a product.
"We really wanted to find a niche," Kaiserman said.
Kaiserman said gelato was relatively new to Tucson, despite the multitude of ice cream stores.
Gelato, an Italian confectionary, is different from American ice cream in that it has less butterfat and contains no eggs or cream, Kaiserman said.
The idea for a gelato shop came from Kaiserman's father and a trip to Italy.
"When you go there all you eat is gelato all day long," Kaiserman said. "When you come back you go through gelato withdrawals."
When they got ready to start planning the shop, they knew they wanted to recreate an authentic Italian atmosphere, so they purchased all the equipment, ingredients and even the fluorescent plastic sampling spoons from Italy, Kaiserman said.
They also enlisted the aid of master gelato chef Nazario Melchionda to make the flavor as genuine as possible. Melchionda is expected to come to Tucson next month to work full time for Frost, Kaiserman said.
But before they were ready to open the business doors, Kaiserman and Ochoa said the biggest challenge they faced was getting someone to fund their store.
"Convincing financial backers is the biggest challenge," Kaiserman said. "You have to get them to trust you."
After that, the biggest hurtle is being prepared for the unexpected, Kaiserman said.
Serving more than 1,200 people each Saturday during the summer, Kaiserman and Ochoa said they credit their success to persistent attitude.
"Don't let anyone tell you it can't be done, that's the biggest hurdle," Kaiserman said. "The best part is working hard and seeing people are enjoying what you're doing."
Tucsonan Liz Greene, who was browsing the 39 flavors Frost offers over the weekend, said she's surprised the gelato market is just starting in Tucson.
"It seems logical that it would have been here sooner," Greene said.
Greene was glad to see the store run by recent UA graduates and was impressed at its success.
"It makes me wish I had thought of the idea first," she said.
Ochoa advised student entrepreneurs to not give up at an idea no matter how young or inexperienced they may seem.
"A big challenge is not to be discouraged because you are young," he said. "People don't take you seriously at first."