Boom in gelato sales on Hunstanton prom leads to business expansion into more outlets

In front of the 1972 vintage Citroen van, are, from left, East Coast Gelato  manager Raegan Large with brother and owner, Joel, and sales assistant, Tom Goodchild.
In front of the 1972 vintage Citroen van, are, from left, East Coast Gelato manager Raegan Large with brother and owner, Joel, and sales assistant, Tom Goodchild.

A father’s ice cream business on Hunstanton prom which started 40 years ago was the inspiration for his son to create a new business last year which is now looking ahead to exciting developments.

Joel Large, 28, is the founder of East Coast Gelato, which came about thanks to being inspired by his father, Michael Large, who built up his business with help from wife, Laurie.

Over the years Joel became more involved with running the business, which still operates from kiosks on the prom. Two years ago he had the idea to follow in his father’s footsteps and produce his own product, but this time it was gelato.

Gelato differs from ice cream by being more milk-based, is churned more slowly, has a stronger flavour and is smoother in texture.

He made several trips to Italy to learn first-hand from the masters of gelato-making and began experimenting with flavours and recipes. Together with his twin sister, Raegan, who manages the business, they launched the product at their father’s ice cream kiosks.

He said: “The response was overwhelming. We are lucky that Norfolk has some great local produce which we like to use in our gelato and sorbets. Most recently we created a Sharrington strawberry sorbet. Our dairy-free range and vegan options have also proved to be a big hit with customers.

“After only one year, we never would have thought we would have achieved so much and gained so many customers and fans. We were awarded the Muddy Stilettos award for Norfolk’s best local producer.” Muddy Stilettos is a popular lifestyle blog.

Now the business has started wholesaling to some of Norfolk’s popular pubs and eateries, including the Duck Inn at Stanhoe and the bistro 20 North Street in Burnham Market. It is also set to supply its products to Eric’s Fish and Chips at Drove Orchards in Thornham.

Joel has bought a vintage Citroen Hy van this year, which regularly visits Thornham Deli and is also used to cater for events and private parties.

Said Joel: “As well as making our own gelato, we have started making gelato sandwiches and gelato lollies which are proving increasingly popular, especially our salted caramel lolly dipped in milk chocolate, drizzled with white chocolate and topped with vanilla fudge pieces.

“I am always looking for new ideas and aim to increase the range. At present I am creating two new flavours a week.

“It’s exciting times for the East Coast Gelato team and we feel the business has gained lots of momentum in the last few months.”

Last month Joel and his team competed in London’s Gelato Festival against the best gelato-makers from across the UK and achieved a special accolade for his Bakewell Tart flavoured gelato.

The gelato van has already attended summer fetes and Hunstanton Carnival recently. It also has many weddings booked in the calendar already.