PORTLAND — Salli Wason is serious about ice cream.
So serious that she has launched a business, Rosanna’s Ice Cream, where she delivers pints of homemade, small-batch ice cream or ice cream cakes at the receipt of a text message.
Wason will deliver any one of the ice cream flavors she has available within 15 minutes to an hour, most evenings between 7 and 11, within a certain radius of downtown Portland that also includes most of South Portland and Cape Elizabeth. All customers have to do is send a text to 450-3259.
The current rotation includes about 30 flavors, ranging from Crunchy Frog, a peanut butter ice cream mixed with homemade peanut butter cups and chocolate covered pretzels, to Thai Iced Tea. Inspiration for the various flavors comes from Wason’s online community.
“I’m active on social media, especially Facebook, and encourage my ice cream fans and friends to brainstorm flavor ideas, and have fun with it. I love taking requests, or working on fantasy flavors that people come up with,” Wason said.
“With 48 hours notice we can make pretty much any flavor you want,” she added. “We (also) offer a few vegan options, and are happy to attempt new ones by request.”
Wason started making ice cream at home; now she’s doing it at Fork Food Lab, a shared commercial kitchen on Parris Street. She decided to try out the business model of delivering homemade ice cream after seeing demand for such a service online.
Wason launched her operation late last summer and said so far, “customer response has been great … it’s steadily growing, even in the depths of winter.” She has regulars who order weekly, others who order monthly “and every week I have lots of new folks trying out the service for the first time.”
Mainers love their ice cream, Wason said.
“We are a hard-working lot, and I think ice cream, at any time of the year, resonates with us as a reward that is decadent and humble at the same time,” she said. “It’s not too costly or ostentatious, which appeals to our frugal nature, but it’s most definitely a treat.”
Wason named the business after the song, “Rosanna,” by the band Toto. “My boyfriend, daughters and I are all huge fans of the band and it was the first thing I thought of,” she said. “It makes us all smile whenever we answer the phone. Also, we are a family of musicians, so it’s a natural direction for us to have taken.”
Wason offers various payment options, including online services such as Facebook Pay, PayPal and Venmo, but, she said, “cash is king.” She has no employees, other than her two daughters, and although Wason often refers to Rosanna’s using the royal “we,” she makes everything, negotiates all purchases and delivers all orders.
Like any start-up, Wason said, “It’s been bananas and I’ve had my share of hiccups.” The challenges include having enough capital on hand, which is why she’s started a GoFundMe page where supporters can help out financially.
“My ice cream is special,” she said, “because I produce it in tiny batches (three to six pints at a time). And, because I involve the folks who love (the ice cream) in the brainstorming process. I think that helps keep it exciting and fun.”
In addition, she said the small batch size “really gives me a great deal of control over the quality, and the limited quantity makes every batch seem special.”
Salli Wason has launched Rosanna’s, a text-for-ice-cream-delivery business in Portland.
A batch of Rosanna’s espresso caramel ice cream in production at Fork Food Lab in Portland.