Take one look inside a Bardot shop, and you’ll know that you’re about to embark on something special. This isn’t any ordinary ice cream bar. With flavors like Heart of Darkness, The Forbidden Fruit, The French Kiss, and a shop with a heavy European influence, you’ll feel more like you’re shopping for jewelry than ice cream. I had a chance to ask Xavier Briseno, Bardot’s CEO, a few questions about their delicious, unique ice cream bars and chic storefront.
On your website, you talk about how ice cream evokes nostalgia in most people and transports us to other places and times in our lives. How does ice cream do that for you? What emotions and memories does this business evoke for you?
Ice cream is about emotions. Most of us, myself included, remember when we were children and went to the ice cream parlor with our parents. Just knowing that we were on our way to the store made us happy. Then, the emotion of having to choose maybe two out of the many flavors available; that too, is also an experience. I’ve been in the ice cream business for more than 14 years, and it has made me the person that I am. At this point, is hard for me to imagine life without ice cream.
You used to own many gelato stores. What prompted you to make the switch to ice cream?
Ice cream is classic American nostalgia, and that is something I wanted to hone in on when I came to the U.S. market. However, at Bardot, we are taking ice cream to the next level, using the highest quality ingredients throughout our entire homemade process. We are combining the classic with the modern, and in turn, providing our customers with the best ice cream on the market. The product is very similar to gelato both in terms of consistency and its low fat content (the ice cream in our bars only contain 6-7% fat).
Your stores are very chic and fun. Where did you find the inspiration for the concept and design?
I belong to a global organization for entrepreneurs, Endeavor, where one of my mentors is Robert Polet. Robert is the former CEO of Gucci Group and Unilever’s Group and Unilever’s ice cream division (the biggest producer of ice cream in the world). While having dinner one evening, Robert and I talked about how to make ice cream chic and making it more aspirational, like Gucci products. Soon after, Bardot was born, which is why Bardot has a European feel.
Who gets to decide on flavor combinations, and how often do you experiment with new combinations?
Sami Cid, Bardot’s corporate chef, is constantly searching for new flavor trends and exploring new and exciting flavor combinations to surprise our customers.
I know your stores are all fairly new, but are there any plans to expand to other states?
Currently we have Bardot shops in San Diego, Calif. and Arcadia, Calif. In August, we are opening in West Covina, Calif. Following that, we plan to open more specialty shops throughout Southern California with plans to expand even further down the road.
Will we ever find Bardot bars in grocery stores?
It’s not in our plans at this time; we believe Bardot is about the shop experience and not just the product. To bring Bardot bars to grocery stores, we would have to capture and translate the Bardot shop experience at the grocery store, which could prove to be very challenging!
What are your favorite flavors, and how often do you actually eat one of your own bars?
I love so many of them; it really depends on many things, like the weather and my mood. But, my favorites include the Heart of Darkness (chocolate ice cream covered with 60% dark Belgian chocolate), the Acapulco Love (100% mango fruit), and New York, NY (strawberry ice cream with cheesecake and graham cracker layers all covered with 40% milk Belgian chocolate). Because they are lower in calories than typical desserts, I don’t feel too guilty eating them often!