Brunswick production growth in sight for Gelato Fiasco

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BRUNSWICK — Gelato Fiasco plans a $1.4 million manufacturing expansion to meet a growing national demand for its creamy product.

The current Industry Road facility is at maximum capacity, according to company co-founder Joshua Davis.

“We are starting to say no … we’re not able to take on any new customers,” he said.

Plans for the expansion were approved Tuesday by the Planning Board, but the company still needs a crucial part of its financing.

Since Gelato Fiasco opened its retail store in 2007 with six employees and on-site production, the company has expanded to another shop in Portland and the manufacturing facility on Industry Road. As of April, the company had 38 full-time equivalent employees.

Now it plans to add a two-story, 5,400-square-foot addition to the plant, hire 15 employees, and expand its parking lot to accommodate 22 cars.

The company originally explored moving to another site in Brunswick, but “we like our home off Water Street,” Davis said.

“We like being in Brunswick, we’ve been very strongly supported by the community,” he added.

Davis described the need for the project as “urgent.”

The Planning Board voted 5-1 Tuesday for the sketch and final site plan applications.

Board member Soxna Dice was the dissenting vote, citing issues she had with the wording on the application’s conditions of approval.

“I think we have to tighten our approvals,” she said. “Otherwise, why do we exist?”

Gelato Fiasco is also depending on a pending Community Development Block Grant for $350,000. If that does not come through, the money for expansion will be “hard to bridge,” Davis said.

According to its CDBG application, the company intends to fund the $1.4 million expansion primarily through a loan. Gelato Fiasco will contribute another $150,000, and the grant would secure the rest.

On Tuesday, the company was pumping out sriracha peanut gelato, which Davis said was developed specially for Whole Foods Market.

The expansion, Davis said, would help them create more “fun things.”

But, he added, “we’d be happy just to make vanilla bean.”

 Walter Wuthmann can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or Follow Walter on Twitter: @wwuthmann.

Brunswick/Harpswell reporter for The Forecaster. Bowdoin College grad, San Francisco Bay Area native. Follow for municipal, school, community, and environmental news from the Midcoast.