At Gerald’s Ice Cream Bar, a retired dentist lives his ice cream-making dream

February 13, 2020

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Retired dentist Gerald Einhorn loves making homemade ice cream. The warmth he feels just eating ice cream is connected to childhood memories of his father William “Willie” Einhorn. Willie Einhorn was a co-founder of Hebrew Academy of Tidewater, known today as Strelitz International Academy.

Einhorn is putting dentistry and a passion for homemade ice cream to the test at Gerald’s Ice Cream Bar at Hilltop North, Virginia Beach. The two art forms might seem incongruous, but Einhorn points out the synergy. “Both are 100% service businesses. They both require 100% precision and discipline.”

As proprietor, his role will be to develop new ice cream recipes and coach the staff on consistent outstanding customer service.

In a competitive specialty food-service market, Einhorn says he is putting his name on a concept with two distinctively different things going for it. “It will have ice cream like you’ve never tasted before and an ambience as special as the ice cream.”

“I’ve been making ice cream for years. What started this was my fondest memory of my father. He seriously loved ice cream. A lot of Saturday evenings we’d walk from our house in West Ghent all the way to High’s Ice Cream. We’d each get a pint and eat it on the walk home. It was fun. Just the two of us,” says Einhorn. “My father worked endless hours so to do something like that with him was very special.”

After retiring from dentistry in 2004, Einhorn and his son Rodney made some special father-son memories of their own. “I’ve always wanted to open a restaurant,” says Einhorn. “My son Rodney, a chef, was living in Aspen, which is where we first looked, but it was too expensive. Then, he came to Virginia Beach for his grandmother’s funeral. Funny thing is we were looking for some fresh fish for dinner,” he says. They drove through pastoral Pungo where Rodney liked that it wasn’t built up or city-like. Soon after, Gerald Einhorn found the location and Terrapin went live.”

If Einhorn’s son was born into the hospitality business, Gerald Einhorn married into it.

Gerald and Dianne Einhorn have been married 41 years. Her stepfather was Linwood Burroughs, owner of the Burroughs Steak House on Military Highway. “My wife is sensational,” says Einhorn. “She’ll be a big part of what makes Gerald’s special. Her knack for the hospitality business is astounding. She can walk into any food service establishment. If something’s off, she’ll point out 20 reasons why. She also knows if it’s great and will tell me exactly what’s going on that makes it so good.”

The idea for Gerald’s Ice Cream was conceived in Paris, at a place known around the world for ice cream. On one of the couple’s trips to Europe, they discovered Berthillon.

“I was floored. I have to find out how to do this!” Einhorn recalls. “It started in a simple way. There is so much to this—it’s like a puzzle to figure out how to make really good ice cream. I bought a million books and experimented. When people came for dinner, I made ice cream for dessert. They would say, ‘you ought to sell this stuff.’

“I almost did this three or four different times. The last time the lady backed out of the lease. Boy, am I glad she did.”

To accelerate his learning curve and elevate the craft, Einhorn recruited gelato genie Tim Brown, who competed in the World Gelato Championship in Rimini, Italy. Brown is the director of the pastry program at the Providence campus of Johnson & Wales University.

“Tim’s my mentor,” says Einhorn who extended the extremely positive experience of working with the South African gelato master to his launch staff, now four months into training. “In two years, they will be experts,” says Einhorn. Drawing from dentistry and his fondness for coaching kids, Einhorn doesn’t believe in asking someone a question you know they can’t answer. “My nephew, Marty Einhorn, is a genius manager. My philosophy is like his. ‘I need you to do this job in a certain way. It’s my job to help you get it right, and to give you what you need, but it must be done this way or you’re out.’”

“You have to do ice cream in a very precise way or every batch will be different,” says Einhorn. “I understand the science of it, I can figure out how to make it because once you understand the science of it, you can go anywhere with it.”

Gerald’s Ice Cream Bar has a full kitchen and seating for people to enjoy an old-fashioned ice cream sundae or banana split. The kitchen allows them to make ice cream cakes and offer cake by the slice. All milk is sourced from a Virginia dairy.

“My wife says I’m good at everything but retiring.”

- Lisa Richmon

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