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The Suburbanite
  • Pav’s Creamery takes giant leap into wholesale market

  • Portage Lakes residents know there is something special about being a laker in the summer – boat rides, lakeside barbecues, fireworks and, of course, Pav’s ice cream.

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  • Portage Lakes residents know there is something special about being a laker in the summer – boat rides, lakeside barbecues, fireworks and, of course, Pav’s ice cream.
    The owner of the Manchester Road mainstay, Michelle Micochero, knew when her family bought the business in 1978 that she had a duty to uphold – to keep making quality kustard for Portage Lakers for years to come.
     Now, 35 years later, the business has decided to up the ante by offering the sweet treat in pint-size containers at local retailers. Beginning this month, Pav’s stocked the shelves of West Point Market and area Acme Fresh Market stores with their summertime favorite in an attempt to satiate Pav’s lovers’ wintertime cravings. Now, the business’ kustard is available at the Portage Lakes Acme location, but beginning in March, it will be available at all of the supermarket’s locations.
    Besides the obvious demand for the treat all year-round, a shift in the business caused Micochero to take sales to the next step.
    “One of the reasons we decided to do this is because my son, Nik, was in the hotel industry and lived out of the country for the past 10 years, and I wanted to bring him into the business,” Micochero said. “He had all these ideas, and so we wanted to go outside the box and do something for him.”
    Micochero’s son, Nik Pappas, grew up in North Canton and is now the director of sales and marketing for Pav’s. Pappas, who previously worked as the regional director of Spa for Orient Express Hotels, lived in Australia, England and the Seychelles for the past decade. When he began having a family and realized the growing demand for Pav’s, he decided to move home and go into business with his mother.
    Pappas said the business actually has already expanded its outside creamery walls, selling their kustard and gelato at restaurants such as Beau’s and Viccaro’s in Fairlawn, Gervasi Vineyard in Canton and the Office Bistro in Cuyahoga Falls and Akron, to name a few.
    “About a year and a half ago, we looked at expanding our operations, and we were divided about whether to add a new store location or to go into the wholesale market, and we decided that it would probably work best for us to explore the wholesale side of things,” Pappas said.
    Still, Pappas said, the idea of opening another location isn’t off the table, though the business hasn’t found the right location for a potential new site.
    Despite the fact that the creamery looks vacant this time of year, the kustard machines are actually getting plenty of use, and all the products that are being sent to stores are being cranked out of the Manchester Road shop.
    Page 2 of 2 - “Everything’s made right on location and hand-packed there,” Micochero said.
    Pappas added that it’s important for customers to know that the treats come from the same machines that produce the delight in the summer, making the product almost identical to what could be scooped onto a cone in mid-July.
    “The demand was there, and we noticed that people still eat ice cream in the winter,” Pappas said. “People buy 12 pints at a time just to get them by in the winter, so our goal was to get our product more accessible to everyone all year-round, not just in the summer months. We know that there’s a market there for it, and now we get an opportunity to give our customers their favorite flavors all year-round.”
    Pappas also said there’s a unique stronghold on the ice cream business in Ohio, with dozens of big-name brands coming from this part of the country, despite the region’s long, sometimes intolerable winters. Still, he said, ice cream is recession-proof, and the demand for local products is growing and growing.
    Pav’s was voted as the best ice cream in the area in 2011 and 2012, an accomplishment Micochero and Pappas say beat the odds since they’re competing against brands such as Handel’s, Strickland’s and a slew of other year-round, Ohio-based ice cream chains.
    “You’ve got that and then you’ve got your local businesses, all fighting for that, and for us to stay on top of it and still be recognized as one of the best ice cream brands, it’s exciting because we’re such a small, family-run operation,” Pappas said.
    Pappas said the kustard is available only at the Portage Lakes Acme location, at 3235 Manchester Road in Coventry, while the shop’s gelato is available only for take-home at W Point Market, at 1711 West Market St. in Akron. The brand’s sweet treats are available as a dessert option at various local restaurants. Pappas said that when the brand debuts at new locations, a tasting will be held to celebrate at the new retailer. Each pint will sell for between $4.99 and $5.99.
     The brick-and-mortar business plans to open in the first week of March this year, a few weeks earlier than usual. For more information on Pav’s Creamery, visit www.pavscreamery.com.