Local ice cream shop thrives on owner Dina Amadril’s old school methods.
By Angel Carreras
Feb. 16, 2017
The founder of Long Beach Creamery is a mad scientist. Well, at least she kind of looks like one inside of her Long Beach ice cream shop. Clad in a charcoal shirt bearing her shop’s namesake on it, Dina Amadril bounces swiftly from workstation to workstation, unavoidable in her bright, turquoise pants and snakeskin, slip-proof Crocs.
Although her workwear falls on the bombastic side of things, her shop is anything but- it’s a small space with plain black and white tiles, a fridge, a service counter, and a blackboard scrawled with today’s flavors.
From climbing corporate ladders around the world to owning a dive-bar restaurant in Rhode Island, Amadril’s career path has taken many turns. As a Bellflower native, her ventures landed close to home in an unexpected berth: ice cream.
“I asked my friend (Farm Lot 59 founder Sasha Kanno), ‘Hey, how did you make this?’ She showed me a KitchenAid attachment and I had one sitting in my garage, so I figured I should take it out for a spin.”
Amadril’s first dive into the world of homemade ice cream making was a blueberry malt flavor, a creation she was proud of.
“I thought it tasted good,” she recalls, a bit skeptical. “Who knows, it might taste terrible.”
Amadril continued experimenting with recipes from books and websites, even deconstructing meals she had eaten throughout the day to see if she could turn that into ice cream.
Eventually, she had a freezer full of frozen desserts.
“Before I know it, I’m making ice cream everyday,” Amadril says. “I was thinking of all the things I could make. I invited friends over, started my ice cream’s own little Facebook page, and people were following it that hadn’t even tasted anything.”
Friends attended her ice cream social and, 12 pints of ice cream later, everyone was left in a diabetic coma. During their recovery, friends and family pushed Amadril to make more ice cream, an endeavor the flavor-creator wasn’t opposed to.
“I was already going to bed dreaming of making other flavors,” Amadril says. “I went to a thing and they had these appetizers, goat cheese stuffed dates with prosciutto wrapped around it. I made an ice cream modeled after that and all kinds of weird stuff. It just hasn’t stopped, that whole addiction to making flavors.”
That addiction of making flavors (as well as the push from friends and family) led Amadril out of her house and into a former cheesesteak restaurant, which she refashioned into Long Beach Creamery.
Just as her initial success began with word of mouth, Amadril’s Long Beach Creamery continues to thrive on the same concept; instead of cashing in on bright colors, millennial pandering, and “gummy worms and shit,” Amadril let’s her ice cream’s natural, handmade creations do the talking.
Originally, Amadril envisioned her small space in Bixby Knolls as a place people could taste test, buy pints of ice cream, and take off.
What she received instead was a business owner’s dream: lines out the door, 5-star Yelp reviews, and loyal regulars. She consistently sells out of pints and opts to help her shop breathe a little, adding indoor and outdoor seating, a huge and welcomed expansion in the two years she’s ran the creamery.
When asked what it is that keeps customers coming back, in droves for flavors such as Midnight Oolong and Huskaberry Finn, Amadril says the answer is simple: it’s all about what’s in the ice cream.
“We don’t buy or use artificial things, we make the flavors from the original food product,” Amadril explains. “You really taste that item here, the textures and flavors. It makes it a completely different experience from a Baskin Robbins or Coldstone Creamery.”
Flavor is king to Amadril, while locality comes a close second. Every ingredient is “as local as possible,” with the goal to minimize their carbon footprint first and foremost, then to “support everyone here local like family.”
Amadril mentions local urban farm Farm Lot 59 as an invaluable neighbor — figuratively and literally — as her and Farm Lot 59’s founder, Sasha Kanno, are neighbors. The two work in tandem together, their arrangement incredibly beneficial.
“With Dina, we do herbs and fruit for her, veggies when she needs it,” Kanno says. “If I have anything extra, I give her a shout.”
And what does Kanno get out of this symbiotic treaty?
“I’m an insider,” Kanno excitedly says. “I get to taste test what’s not out there yet for the masses, so it works out.”
The friendly-neighbor attitude doesn’t just stop with produce, as local products such as Black Ring Coffee, Pie Bar items, Romeos Chocolates, Tracee’s Wicked Treats can all be spotted in the shop, with Smog City Beer making an appearance in some flavors.
“Anything local we can do, we’ll strive to use,” Amadril says.
Long Beach Creamery aims to grow, and not just locally. Amadril is currently in a Goldman Sach’s small business module, building the skeleton of a growth plan.
“Downtown and Eastside Long Beach are places we like that won’t one cannibalize the other,” Amadril says. “If I’m lucky, I’d like to see how one would do in Hermosa or Santa Monica. And who says we have to be brick and mortar? Vending machines are a possibility, too.”
The possibility of expansion is welcoming news for returning customer Brennon Dixson and his girlfriend, Seneca Dykes. The two live near the traffic circle and make occasional treks to Long Beach Creamery, but savor the opportunity (and tastes) when they’re in the Bixby Knolls shop.
“It just tastes better man, that’s as easy as I can put it,” Dixson says. “Everything else is all sugared up, almost like fast-food ice cream. The stuff here is gourmet, you gotta take your time with it. I love this place.”