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Summer 2014
A Treat, Bar None

With a variety of customization options, Camille’s Hand-Dipped Bars is set to deliver on cool franchise concept.

A vanilla ice cream bar dipped in chocolate? Sure, you can do that but it sounds just so, well…plain old vanilla. With forty-five different flavors of ice cream, frozen yogurt and sorbet to choose from, the options at Camille’s Hand-Dipped Bars are definitely a step above, says Rome Gregorio, the company’s founder and CEO.

The process is straightforward: a customer picks a bar from the display case, and an “ice cream artist” walks him through the customization process. The bar can be dipped in either milk or dark chocolate (white chocolate will soon be an option as well) and further rolled with one of many toppings. Toppings can include pistachios, M&Ms, and Oreos among others. The end product is one that’s a satisfying pick me-up, Gregorio says and the entire process takes as little as three minutes.

End results can vary as widely as a banana yogurt bar dipped in milk chocolate and topped with Heath Bar Crunch, to a Sicilian Lemon Ice bar half-dipped in milk chocolate topped with shaved coconut, to a Cappuccino ice cream bar dipped in dark chocolate and topped with crushed almonds. While each store (especially the kiosks) might not have the entire 45 suite of flavors available, there is enough variety to satisfy even the most finicky customers, Gregorio says. Gluten- and sugar-free options and kid-sized bars are also available. Each location offers a flavor of the week and seasonal flavors are added to the offerings as well. For example, candy cane bars are particularly popular during Christmas.

In addition to the bars, full inline stores offer fresh-squeezed lemonade and shakes but the primary emphasis is on the bars, Gregorio says.

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Gregorio points out that a focus on fresh and their variety of customization options differentiates Camille’s from its competition. All bars are made fresh on premises daily and are flash frozen for use throughout the day. The finest quality ingredients are used, Gregorio adds without use of additives or preservatives. “You can take a Dove bar from a grocery store aisle but the number of additives and preservatives in it might mean that the bar was probably made even a year ago,” he points out. Camille’s also costs less, Gregorio says. “Everybody is looking for a treat that won’t break the bank. A family of four can enjoy Camille’s for around fifteen to seventeen dollars.”

Even better, new technology lets one machine produce all the bars—ice cream, frozen yogurt and sorbet—needed, Gregorio says. This translates to a smaller footprint in each store, something that is especially useful in kiosk designs.

Franchise options

Camille’s is looking for franchisees  who can commit to multi-unit operations. Inline stores and kiosks are available, with the latter being an especially popular option at universities, airports and shopping centers. Gregorio says Camille’s (named after his daughter) receives many franchise inquiries every day and they have a thorough system for vetting suitable applicants. “They must have tested experience in the food and beverage business, have excellent management and customer service skills,” Gregorio adds. The turnkey kiosk model costs $150,000 and includes cost of set-up, marketing tools and training. The latter includes sessions at the Austin, TX headquarters for a week, coaching before the grand opening on site and then help for a week after opening. Interested applicants are encouraged to visit the website for contact information.

Camille’s is expected to grow to five locations (there are currently three in the pipeline) in the United States this year. Expansion on a global scale is also planned. India is a particularly ripe market, Gregorio says. “The market in India is tremendous, one study shows that there are 500 malls expected to open there in the next 24 months. The appetite for frozen desserts is also huge [in India],” he adds.

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Gregorio adds that every franchisee belongs to the extended Camille’s family. Case in point: the Wall of Happy. Every store has a wall that showcases the franchisee’s vacations and family pictures making the store feel like a home away from home. “At Camille’s we feel that businesses need to be creative and innovative because it keeps us fresh. It’s signature artistic touches like these that make the difference,” he says. “It’s the signature Hallmark-like experience where we want every experience to be personalized and meaningful.”

Whether customers are looking to celebrate or just for a quick pick-me-up, Gregorio wants everybody—including its franchisees—who comes into Camille to feel happy.

For more information, please visit www.camillesicecream.com. 

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Poornima Apte

Poornima Apte is a Boston-area freelance writer and editor specializing in retail and the book publishing industry. Learn more at wordcumulus.wordpress.com.
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