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Archive for category: Press

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Heat Wave

Daily News
News
Wednesday, April 26, 2000
By Jason Kandel

Weeks of cool weather have come to an abrupt end and Southern Californians who basked in 70 degree temperatures are getting a taste of the region’s other weather phenomenon: wilting heat.

In the meantime, many are seeking refuge from the heat, diving into cool swimming pools across the Southland.

The heat wave was a boom to ice cream shops across the city, “Duh! Business is fantastic,” said Don Whittemore of Dandy Don’s HomeMade Ice Cream in Van Nuys, which caters to more than 115 restaurants and hotels.

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Dandy Don’s – the very best

From Los Angeles Times
Eats – Restaurant Reviews and News
By Juan Hovey

“And after you sample what those restaurants have to offer, you can finish up with a bit of Dandy Don’s Gourmet Homemade Ice Cream, made by Don Whittemore of Van Nuys – one of the very best ice creams you can get.”

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Party Scoopers

From – LA Business Journal
BY NOLA L. SARKISIAN
Staff Reporter

WHO did Mayor Richard Riordan call when he needed 125 ice cream sundaes to feed a team of attorneys? Dandy Don’s HomeMade Ice Cream.

And who did the producers of the new Austin Powers movie hire when they wanted to treat their 300-member cast and crew to a Fun Friday? Again, Dandy Don’s got the call.

You won’t find these confections at the local supermarket. Owner Don Whittemore, who makes hundreds of gallons of ice cream each week at his Van Nuys plant, is hired to handle ice cream socials with guest lists numbering from 25 to 5,000. He has catered parties at Disneyland, Geffen Records, Galpin Motors, and CB Richard Ellis  as well as on the sets of Beverly Hills 90210 and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

€œIt’s a happy business. And it’s a business model that’s working, said Whittemore, whoruns the business with his wife Linda.As Dandy Don’s client roster grows, so does its revenues, which reached $471,000 in 1998, nearly double what they were two years earlier. In 1999, the company expects revenues to reach $525,000.

Not bad considering that the ice cream industry has shown lackluster growth of 1 percent to 3 percent in recent years, compared with the double-digit increases during the ’70s and ’80s when premium brands like Haagen Dazs and Ben & Jerry’s made major debuts.

Lynda Utterback, publisher of National Dipper magazine, says Whittemore has a major advantage over many of the giants.

He makes his own ice cream, which turns out to be much fresher than in grocery stores, Utterback said. What he sells is as little as two to three days old compared to the grocery store, which can sell ice cream that’s two months old.

Charges for the catering service vary depending on the size of the party. Typically, a 50-person event breaks down to about $5.05 per sundae, plus labor and travel costs.

To save time and money, workers pre-scoop ice cream in disposable cups, keeping them frozen with dry ice until the party begins. The crew works in aprons designed like tuxedos and guests are served from booths with redand-white canopies.

“Sundaes are fun. They’re a nice treat, especially when you’re shooting 14 hours a day, said production assistant Heather Plott, who coordinated the event for the Austin Powers crew. This rates up there with our 10-minute massages and our pizza lunches.

The Riordan ice cream social took place in the backyard of the mayor’s Brentwood home when he threw a party to honor law students interning this summer at his firm, Riordan & McKinzie.

Every year we’ve had different additions, from cigar rollers to fortune tellers, and this year we tried the ice cream sundae bar, which turned out to be a big hit with everyone, said Managing Partner Richard Welch.

In addition to catering, Whittemore has contracts with a number of area restaurants, hotels and country clubs that buy his ice cream including Crustacean, Lawry’s The Prime Rib, Maria’s Italian Kitchen and the Wilshire Grand Hotel & Centre.

He customizes things for me and is the only supplier I’ve found to be so flexible, said Walter Neuhold, executive chef at the Wilshire Grand. For instance, at Christmas, he’ll provide me with baked Alaska. I also use his ice cream as toppings for my desserts like a scoop of vanilla bean on baked apple cobbler.

Whittemore has created more than 100 flavors, although vanilla bean still accounts for 80 percent of his sales. His latest creations include green tea, coconut, pink ginger and jalapeno grapefruit.

Despite the revenue growth, the food sales business requires lots of promotional skills an area that Whittemore honed nearly three decades ago in the record industry. Back then, he worked as a promoter at Capitol Records and later RCA, helping introduce David Bowie, Anne Murray and John Denver, among others.

But the nomadic lifestyle made family life difficult, so he left the business in 1979 to seek new ventures.

A newspaper story about the ice cream business caught his eye and he bought a neighborhood store in Tarzana in 1981. He paid $74,000 way too much and promptly realized that he hadn’t done his homework.

Summer was great, then the kids went back to school and my business dropped 50 percent, he said. Then Penguin’s Yogurt opened down the street. I was starving. I had to find other ways to make the business flourish.

Eventually, the retail overhead became too much to bear. He sold the business in 1987 at a loss and began concentrating on the wholesale market. In 1995, Whittemore moved into his own building and bought his own equipment.

Now the company is looking to expand its plant and plans to launch a Web site in the next 90 days. He also is looking for investors to open retail stores and currently has a licensing agreement with nine stores in China.

We’re always looking for new opportunities. Otherwise, you’re singing the blues if you don’t innovate and seek out new ventures, he said.

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Prosecco Dessert

From Daily News
Dining Out, L.A. Life Weekend
By Larry Lipson
Friday, November 7, 1997
Prosecco Review

“Prosecco thoughtfully brings forth complimentary bread and olive oil to begin a meal and biscotti to end it. But Dandy Don’s rich vanilla bean gelati with a warm espresso brownie ($4) provides an ultra-superior finish, with or without a glass of spumante or prosecco.”

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Dandy Don’s crumble

From Los Angeles Times
(Thursday, September 18, 1997)
Eats – Restaurant Reviews and News
By Juan Hovey

Just Like Home

“The crumble comes with the best ice cream made by mortal man – a scoop of Dandy Don’s vanilla bean ice cream, made by Don Whittemore of Van Nuys – and if someone at the next table asks for a taste of yours, just say no.”

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Dandy Don’s in China

By Enrique Rivero
Daily News Staff Writer
Saturday, August 23, 1997

Valley ice cream maker scoops out California lifestyle in China

The Golden State, it turns out, is a golden marketing tool for American businesses in China. At least that’s the lesson learned from the success of Van Nuys-based Dandy Don’s HomeMade Ice Cream in Guangdong province (formerly Canton) in southern China.

The California-inspired promotion, the brainchild of California businessman David Tong, seems to be working. In about three years, 13 Dandy Don’s American IceCream franchises have been sold in the province, one of the wealthiest in China.

If you tried to promote American products and use New York, do you think it would work? asked Tong rhetorically.

Dandy Don owner Don Whittemore, who licensed his company’s name and formula to Hong Kong-based concern Bofon International Development Holdings Ltd., said he quickly recognized China as a, well, dandy market to expand.

We, as a people, have no real concept of what’s happening in China and how China is growing so quickly and modernizing itself, he said.

Why is the California lifestyle so fascinating to the Chinese? The country’s isolation during its decades of Communist rule has a lot to do with it, according to Tong.

Now, as the country’s government has loosened, the Chinese have gotten more exposure through television to what lies beyond their borders, and a taste for what’s across the Pacific Ocean.

California is the only thing they really care about, said Joseph Frohlinger, publisher of Frohlinger’s Marketing Report. They visualize the beaches, the sunsets, the Baywatch babes. They want to be like Mike; they want a piece of the culture.

Frohlinger expects more companies to use the Golden State’s image to promote their products in China. It’s a very easy way to grab someone’s attention, he said. By capturing the California lifestyle, you’re capturing what’s fun about America.

Tong was first approached by Bofon in mid-1993 to obtain the franchise to the Baskin-Robbins name. But it had already been taken and, besides, Tong believed a big chain would impose too many limitations on how the ice cream was produced and marketed.

So I suggested a smaller company willing to teach us to make ice cream and do it in China, Tong said. By coincidence, a few weeks earlier Tong had happened to meet Whittemore at a Planned Parenthood fund-raiser.

The Dandy Don name had another built-in selling point: unlike some major names like Haagen-Dazs, the Mandarin and Cantonese pronunciations of Dandy Don are close to the English-language original. You have to find a name that’s easy to pronounce, Tong said.

But image was perhaps the most important element in marketing the product, and Tong seized on the California theme because it was different from the way other ice creams we marketed.

California lifestyle is easier to imagine, to accept, he said. The weather is always good, it’s sunny – it goes with ice cream.

You are tasting the California sunshine. That’s what we say in our promotions.

Download the PDF of this article.

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How sweet it is

From Los Angeles Times
(Thursday, February 13, 1997)
Eats – Restaurant Reviews and News
By Juan Hovey

Oh, How Sweet It Is
Local eateries’ ice cream concoctions can by credited to Dandy Don.

According to Julia Child, the test of a restaurant is its roast chicken – for the very good reason that only a chef whose attention never flags roasts a chicken to perfection.

But to those who love it, a scoop of really good ice cream is at least as much fun as any chicken, roasted to perfection or beyond. Besides, life is short. Have dessert first.

Restaurants that use high-quality ice cream should offer a high-quality dessert, right? It seems worth a thorough test.

No fewer than 15 restaurants in the San Fernando Valley serve Dandy Don’s Gourmet HomeMade Ice Creams, made by Don Whittemore of Van Nuys, a former music industry executive who decided to go into the specialty food business in 1981.

His is good ice cream indeed; Dandy Don’s vanilla bean ice cream won a gold medal at the Los Angeles County Fair last year. And if the testimony of one of Whittemore’s loyal customers – Selwyn Yosslowitz, who runs the Marmalade Cafes in Sherman Oaks, Westlake Village and Malibu – is a guide, diners love it too.

“It’s a phenomenal ice cream – in a league of its own,” says Yosslowitz. “It’s creamy and light, and it melts in your mouth. People go nuts over it.”

Yosslowitz serves the ice cream with two desserts – a French apple tart and a deep dish apple pie, each $5.50. If you take your ice cream straight, three scoops cost $4.95.

Cafe Marmalade is at 14910 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks, (818) 905-8875; 140 Promenade Way, Westlake Village, (805) 370-1331.

Another Dandy Don customer, John Makhani, who runs Villa Piacere Restaurant in Woodland Hills, serves the ice cream in a confection guaranteed to make you impatient to get to it ASAP. Called a truffle, it’s a morsel of Dandy Don raspberry sherbet wrapped in a layer of Dandy Don chocolate ice cream and finished off with chocolate icing. Makhoni sells it for $5.95. You can get a dish of vanilla bean ice cream – the most popular Dandy Don flavor – for $2.95.

Villa Piacere is at 22160 Ventura Blvd., Woodland Hills, (818) 704-1185.

The Seashell Restaurant and Steak House in Woodland Hills serves Dandy Don ice cream three ways – with French wafers and fresh fruit, with Grand Marnier, and inside a puff pastry topped with hot chocolate. Prices range to $6.50.

The restaurant is at 19723 Ventura Blvd., Woodland Hills, (818) 884-6500.

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Quality Ice Cream

From Daily News
Dining Beat, Lifestyle Section
Sunday, December 3, 1995
By Larry Lipson

“Similarly, there are premium quality ice creams around. For example, the locally produced Dandy Don brand is found at certain upscale dining places like Saddle Peak Lodge in Calabasas. This particular ice cream is also used by movie and TV caterers, including the one who prepares the food for the cast and crew of “Baywatch.”