Jason Minter has fond memories of his grandmother, Connie Pugh, and her fascination with PBS programming. “Every Sunday we would go to my grandma’s after church and she was always watching PBS,” he recalls. “She would say, ‘PBS brings all these cultures to me right in my living room.’ My grandmother never left the city.”
Years later, in 2012, Minter was in Castiglion Fiorentino, Italy as a teaching assistant with Texas A&M’s college of architecture study abroad program when he discovered affogatos – gelato topped with a shot of espresso. The experience reminded Minter of his grandmother’s travels via public television.
After duplicating the affogatos for some friends back home in Tremont, Minter was encouraged to start a business of it. He kept testing his recipe and attended Cleveland State’s Meet the Lenders
program last summer, where he got additional encouragement. He decided to call it Connie’s Affogato
Minter then decided to enter the Old Brooklyn business plan competition
, and was one of three winners. “We approached the competition with the understanding that opening a bricks and mortar storefront would be unfeasible for Connie's Affogato at this point,” he explains. “Instead we proposed a new model for economic development with a substantially lower barrier to entry than existing models. The competition judges responded positively to our strategy.”
The mobile affogato shop will be equipped with a specially-made bicycle – complete with a freezer, stove and “storefront” – with help from Soulcraft Woodshop
. Espresso will be brewed on the bike, while he plans to get his ice cream from a local supplier.
Connie’s Affogato will serve Old Brooklyn, as well as area festivals and fairs. “The city of Cleveland is my canvas,” Minter says. “I see a Cleveland where people are spending a little less time in their homes and car and contributing to a vibrant street life.”
Minter plans to take growth one step at a time. He is on schedule to open May 1st next summer with just one mobile storefront, then grow accordingly. While he says it’s not necessary, his plan includes opening a bricks and mortar storefront in three years. “You got to let the market guide you,” he says.