The Best Ice Cream Shop 2014
Did you know? Our very own Board & Vellum team member, Alev Seymen, owns a gelato shop? She and her husband are the proprietors of Nutty Squirrel Gelato, and we certainly love it when she brings us a treat at the office!
November 18, 2014
A few may know that I come from a family of gelato artisans and own a gelato shop, Nutty Squirrel Gelato, with my husband in Maple Valley, WA.
It would have been so easy to open a place in Seattle, we live and work here... But we knew that there were already good gelato shops in Seattle (like my parents’ shop in Wallingford). What we wanted was to be more than a place for a frozen treat. We wanted to bring something special to an overlooked neighborhood that was ready for some fun. We wanted our shop to be a social hub, an incubator of ideas, and become an integral part of the community. So, we discovered Maple Valley, a small town with a proud history, surrounded by natural beauty (Check out Lake Wilderness Park – it’s stunning!), a great school district, and young families hungering for sweets.
We wanted our shop to reflect the local culture from its menu to its architecture, and to cultivate a relationship with our patrons. Having a limited construction budget, we spent our money where it mattered most:
- Buying the quality equipment that will allow us to make our authentic gelato in small batches using natural, fresh and local ingredients. Being adventurous and creating new recipes.
- Carving out spaces for the community to express ideas, news, artistic talent – we organized the first ever “Maple Valley Artwalk” and proudly display the work of local artists. We also have a chalk wall that our patrons have used to ask out prom dates, to celebrate birthdays etc.
- Letting children to be children, by designating a play area for them –which we also use for organizing events like story-time with the local favorite “Librarian Sharon” or the Halloween costume photo shoots.
- Having décor that can change with seasons, and interact with the an evolving community – our CNC-cut maple tree installed in our kid play area becomes the “giving tree” around the holiday season.
- Also being mobile, with a gelato cart / trike, which we can ride to soccer games, events, weddings etc.
Our name - Nutty Squirrel - came about because we wanted a natural icon that was both fun and local. “Squirrels” are everywhere in the NW and the “Nutty” in our name represents the many nut flavors of gelato, but also represents the fact that we want to be fun and approachable.
Who says you can't celebrate Taco Tuesday at a gelato shop?
We opened our doors to Maple Valley residents on Halloween just over two years ago, and we stayed true to our vision from the very first day. We feel so cherished and appreciated in this community. We are thrilled to open our doors every day which gives us the opportunity to make new friends on a regular basis. However, it wasn't until the Best of Western Washington results were released just last week that we truly understand just how much we are loved back!
Every year, KING 5 organizes the Best of Western Washington, an online competition where Puget Sound residents vote online for their favorites. This year over 400K votes were cast, in 221 categories (from “Best Ugliest Dog” to “Best Local Band”. And, we won the Best Ice Cream Shop 2014.
We are ecstatic to share the news and so proud to be a member of the Maple Valley community who voted us to the top among some pretty steep competition. Come visit us the next time you're in the area.