COMPANY: Nightingale Ice Cream Sandwiches


OWNERS: Hannah Pollack & Xavier Meers

Nightingale Ice Cream Sandwiches’ eight-person feminine team of workers methodically strikes in the course of the procedure of constructing their day by day stock of three,000 hand-crafted ice cream sandwiches within the manufacturing area at Hatch Kitchen.

“Once we began, we’d simplest make 100 per week, and that was once such a lot,” says Hannah Pollack, guffawing.

Pollack, 33, is the more youthful, relatively extra severe part of Nightingale, an organization she formally based in 2016 along with her husband, Brussels local Xavier Meers. The couple met whilst operating in combination within the kitchen on the bygone Belle Vie eating place in Midlothian, which Meers, 42, co-owned.

Whilst operating as govt chef at Greenleaf’s Pool Room, Pollack made an ice cream sandwich for dessert. Upon making an attempt it, Meers instantly learned that that the sandwich, vanilla ice cream between two brownie cookies — now Nightingale’s “Vintage” — had the possible to be greater than a novelty deal with and transform a a hit meals product. “I knew from the instant I attempted it,” he remembers.

Pollack would go back to her house kitchen after dinner carrier at Greenleaf’s and make as many ice cream sandwiches as she may just, promoting them to pals at different eating places and markets. Between lunch and dinner shifts as govt chef at Brux’l Cafe, Meers would ship them. They named their industry Nightingale as an homage to its beginnings at Greenleaf’s: The pool corridor is known as for Ralph Greenleaf, a 20-time International Billiards Champion, and his spouse, vaudeville actress Amelia Ruth Parker, was once referred to as “The Oriental Nightingale.”

Through November 2016, Pollack discovered herself bodily not able to stability manufacturing and her full-time process, and after a nudge from the constructive Meers, she give up Greenleaf’s to decide to Nightingale. Failure wasn’t an possibility.

“As soon as you are taking that step, it scares you sufficient to the place you suppose, ‘I’ve to make this paintings, there’s not anything to fall again on, no wage,’ ” Pollack says. “It was once laborious in the beginning, however we wouldn’t be the place we’re if we have been dwelling each worlds.”

Serendipitously, Efficiency Meals Crew, a Richmond-based meals distributor, was once having a look so as to add native merchandise to its lineup. Meers, a longstanding buyer of PFG as a chef, had shared Nightingale’s sandwiches with a gross sales rep. 4 months after Pollack left the eating place international, Nightingale partnered with PFG for distribution — first in Virginia, then to all the Mid-Atlantic area. They graduated to a industrial kitchen area at Westbury Pharmacy and started promoting a mean of one,200 sandwiches per week to PFG. Nowadays, their merchandise, which come with 4 signature flavors and various seasonal sandwiches, may also be present in 12 states.

For the previous couple of years, they’ve labored to develop their industry, participating on unique flavors with native breweries and eating places. To start with of 2019, they become an anchor member of Hatch Kitchen, the place they’ve a delegated area and a big walk-in freezer built in particular for them.

Now the charismatic Meers, who spent 25 years working eating places and heading quite a lot of kitchens, prospers because the face of the corporate at industry presentations around the nation.

Pollack, who considers herself extra introverted, has been driven out of doors of her convenience zone by means of Nightingale’s fast enlargement. She’s now not operating 16-hour shifts making ice cream sandwiches and as an alternative makes a speciality of different aspects of the industry.

“That was once something, too, figuring out that no person goes to be such as you or paintings such as you,” Pollack says of the transition. “That’s something I’d all the time fight with, however it’s important to take a little of a step again and notice what’s affordable.”

Despite the fact that Nightingale is Richmond well-known, and Pollack and Meers are native meals celebrities, increasing out of doors the area and the state has had its demanding situations as they paintings to persuade consumers that their nostalgic, top class hand-crafted treats, ceaselessly made with native substances, are price $Four in keeping with sandwich.

“Once we were given additional out, how laborious of a push it was once was once unexpected to us,” Pollack says. Other people would ask, “How a lot for an ice cream sandwich?”

As call for has greater, they’ve invested in apparatus to lend a hand with manufacturing, transitioning from a KitchenAid ice cream maker to an business equipment, and from the usage of an ice cream scoop and spatula to a lately bought depositor and customized molds.

In not up to 3 years, Nightingale has grown from a culinary facet challenge to a multistate operation eyeing part 1,000,000 ice cream sandwiches offered this yr. Meers and Pollack are operating towards their purpose of filling the chilly circumstances at high-end markets and grocers around the nation whilst maintaining onto their native Richmond roots.

“I feel the folk concerned with us strongly imagine in us — they know the longer term may also be one thing giant and engaging,” Meers says. “You need to pass and battle for it for those who adore it, and that’s what we do.”

Signature Sandwiches

  • Fats Banana: Peanut-butter cookie and banana ice cream dipped in chocolate
  • Vintage: Chocolate brownie cookie and vanilla ice cream 
  • Cookie Monster: Chocolate-chip cookie with cookies-and-cream ice cream
  • Chocolate Coffee: Chocolate brownie cookie with chocolate-espresso ice cream 

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