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Nicole Di Pietro | Vice President | Jeremiah's Italian Ice

Jeremiah’s Italian Ice: The Hottest Brand in the Frozen Dessert Market

Founded in 1996, Jeremiah’s Italian Ice has become a force in the frozen dessert market, building a passionate fan following across its 50+ locations. Delivering unparalleled service and a decadant lineup of of tasty frozen treats, Jeremiah’s Italian Ice stands poised to make a name for Italian Ice across the Southern US.

After 23 years of perfecting the brand and hundreds of franchising inquiries from loyal fans within its home state of Florida, Jeremiah’s announced that it would aim to grow nationwide in spring 2019. Since then, the brand has stayed true to its claim of waking up the frozen dessert category and is well on its way to becoming a national sensation, growing from 22 to locations in 2019 to 56 in 2021 with an additional 160+ units awarded or in development.

Jeremiah’s came into the year with big plans for development, eying new states and aiming to capitalize on its pandemic resiliency. The brand has successfully opened 21 new franchise locations in 2021 and is on track to open an additional 12 to 15 locations by year’s end.   The brand’s ongoing success despite the COVID pandemic has remained evident to potential franchise partners, resulting in an additional 38 location agreements awarded thus far in 2021 an additional 38 locations awarded thus far in 2021 and in 6 new states, in 6 new states. Despite its unprecented growth, however, the Jeremiah’s brand has not lost sight of people. From its unit level squad members, to managers, to corporate support staff, to franchisees and, of course, to its valued guests, it’s the people that Jeremiah’s holds nearest and dearest to its heart.

We at The Franchise Universe got into conversation with  Jeremiah’s Vice President, Nicole Di Pietro, to learn more about Jeremiah’s Italian Ice and how it has reawakened the frozen dessert industry.

Below are the highlights of the interview:

What were the challenges Jeremiah’s Italian Ice faced since launching the franchise program?

Jeremiah’s faced many of the challenges and growing pains all growth concepts experience; however, a unique, unexpected challenge that we faced was the onset of the Covid Pandemic, just as our franchising program launched. Maintaining open and transparent communication with our Franchisees was integral in maintaining stability throughout the development and opening of our franchise locations during these turbulent times.

Our team was unwavering in our commitment to place the health and safety of our staff and our guests first and foremost. Our ability to remain nimble and quick to pivot to adapt to the ever-changing operational landscape and social climate of the pandemic was to the strength of our brand and our ability to remain resilient during uncertain times.

Being an experienced business leader, what is your opinion regarding the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Food & Beverages and Franchising Industry? And how has Jeremiah’s Italian Ice, managed to overcome this significant challenge?

The Food & Beverage Industry continues to be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.  In order to sustain operations at its onset, businesses had to pivot quickly.  Restaurants owners and their employees were required to implement stringent safety protocols and thus played a significant role in ensuring public health and safety while remaining operational.  And today, most are continuing, just as we are, to redefine their business models to ensure technology, to-go formats, and new safety protocols are part of the ongonging operations.

In addition, as public sentiment began to shift, and more and more restaurants came back online, the industry has been faced with a new hurdle which hasn’t seemed to let up.  The difiiculty in hiring and maintaining employees continues to consume both corporate and franchise operations, and though not entirely exempt from staffing challenges faced today, Jeremiah’s commitment to people-first has ensured longevity and tenure of staff among its open units.

What is your thought on the necessity of a positive work culture? In what ways do you implement it at your organization?

As a people-first company, culture has always been a crux to the success of our Brand. As we add additional partners and locations, maintaining this culture is paramount to ensuring our Brand’s integrity across all markets. Our focus on developing and enriching our team members allows us to build a culture that extends far beyond a simple frozen dessert operation, and this has been pivotal to our longevity and ability to develop leaders from within.

Alongside the fun and vibrant energy of our locations and teams, we also focus on a culture of accountability and recognition, centered around our Core Values – Cool, Bold, Vibrant, Genuine, Generous, Strategic. Our Top Frog program and Frog Fun(d) scholarship program are just two examples of ways we communicate our commitment to our staff.

Describe your company’s unique flavors, which address all the needs of your customers.

With more than 40 indulgent Italian Ice flavors that span the taste spectrum, from Mango and Passion Fruit to Sea Salted Caramel and Scoop Froggy Frog, we have a flavor for everyone. Couple this variety with the ability to layer any Ice flavors with our Soft Ice Cream, and Guests are able to develop limitless flavor profiles. We’ve recently added Layer-Ins to the mix, and these decadent additions expand the flavor options even further. Our Secret Menu, that can be found in our loyalty app, J-List Rewards, showcases the creative flavor combos that can be developed at Jeremiah’s through a creative layering of our treats, e.g., ‘Frosted Animal Cracker’ featuring our Cookie Butter and Cake Batter Ices layered with Rainbow Sprinkles and Vanilla Soft Ice Cream.

We never rest on our flavor laurels and continuously release exciting seasonal offerings as well, from Lemon Basil to Blueberry Limeade and Pumpkin Pie Ice!

In what ways have you or Jeremiah’s Italian Ice, contributed to the community? If given a chance, what change would you bring in sustainable and imaginative approach to Franchising?

Generous is one of our Core Values. Our commitment to people and community is a key focus for our Brand, and it resonates throughout our team and franchise family. Developing deep bonds with our Guests, staff, and communities is a mandate for our Brand. Whether we’re donating treats to local schools and non-profits, hosting sales contribution events at our locations, scooping our treats up at local community events, or simply serving as the venue for the development of lifelong memories for our guests and their loved ones.

How do you envision sustaining your company’s competency in a cutthroat and volatile world of business? Where do you see your company in the next five years?

As Jeremiah’s continues to garner popularity across the nation, the brand has stayed true to its claim of creating a market for the frozen dessert category with its COOL and VIBRANT treats and culture. We will continue to be a beacon of light and hope in the communities we serve. We will continue to put people first and live our core values daily.

Looking ahead to the future, Jeremiah’s is targeting an additional 200+units over the next 5 years, taking the brand from its 22 original corporate locations in its home state of Florida to delighting communities and making a name for Italian Ice across the Southeastern United States.