Kristine M Kierzek
When he was younger, Ryan Povlick had a nightly ice cream ritual. Sometimes it was milkshakes, sometimes a scoop with chocolate syrup. Many nights he let the ice cream sit out and get to just the right consistency, then he’d have as much ice cream as he could in one massive scoop.
All these years later, building a business around his favorite treat just makes sense.
Scratch Ice Cream began in 2015 with his base recipes for vanilla and chocolate, moving to add-ins like caramel and brownies all made from scratch. Every pint is small batch and hand-packed. His brother, Justin Povlick, joined him in 2018 as the business grew.
Now, Scratch Ice Cream has moved into a new location with a bigger kitchen, where Justin oversees daily production. The new space also offers indoor and outdoor seating and nearly two dozen flavors daily, including some popular cheesecake options. The new scoop shop is at 2205 N. Calhoun Road, Brookfield, at Ruby Isle shopping center.
Scratch ice creams are also available at Crossroads Collective, 2238 N. Farwell Ave., Zocalo food truck park at 636 S. Sixth St., plus pints at retail outlets including Beans and Barley, Riverwest Co-Op, Sendik’s, Outpost and Metcalfe’s, Woodman’s, Sentry in Delafield and Layton Fruit Market.
New space for Scratch
Ryan: This Brookfield space used to be Yo Mama, which is owned by my aunt and uncle (Becky and Scott Berger). We started out wholesale selling to groceries and restaurants, then opened at Crossroads Collective in the food hall, then Zocalo food truck park. We bought a food trailer, though we don’t get that out much.
We’ve always wanted our own brick and mortar space. When this opportunity came up the space allowed us to put our kitchen here as well.
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how they started
Ryan: Around 2013 I was looking for a job. I hit up my aunt and uncle, seeing if they needed any help. I started working for them. As time went on, my uncle had some ideas for different businesses wholesaling yogurt. Me personally, I’ve always been an ice cream fan, not a frozen yogurt fan. We started working with recipes, and I began playing with ice cream. My uncle let me run with it.
I just started reading books on how to make ice cream and how the machinery works. After a lot of fun in the kitchen I came up with a good recipe for vanilla. My aunt and uncle provided capital, and I started making ice cream and selling out of Yo Mama, then started going to grocery stores. Our first big sale was Metcalfe’s in Wauwatosa. I started getting pretty busy, brought on Dusty (Garley)…
Justin: I graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2017. I went to school for agriculture and food business management. My first job out of college was at a business technology company doing sales. I worked there for six months. Ryan and I talked about how that was not what I wanted to do. I quit and joined (Scratch) in 2018.
Ryan: As time went on, we gave him a portion of the business. Eventually he bought out Dusty.
Beyond the business
Ryan: Addiction is part of my story. I don’t mind throwing it in, it gives hope to other addicts and it is still a huge part of my life. Recovery today is working. Work can be healthy and not healthy, but for me keeping my mind active and growing something keeps me motivated and keeps me happy. …Typically, me being an addict was isolation. …
So today, things like this, even talking to you about this, I don’t love it, but it keeps me healthy. If my story helps someone, that’s good too.
Small batch, made in-house
Justin: Our batch freezer is 12 quarts, so we typically make three gallons at a time. Every pint is hand-packed. For the ingredients, we make all of our own caramel, we use our homemade recipes for brownies, the cookie dough, all of that.
Ryan: We’ve got 22 in the shop right now, plus pints and ice cream pies, plus ice cream sandwiches. Those sell out quickly.
Justin: We make about 32 flavors for the dipping cabinet.
Ryan: Between seven and 14 are available in stores (in pints).
Ryan: Right now it is the cheesecake flavors. The salted caramel is always the most popular, but the cheesecake is a limited-time thing because it takes so long to make. We’ve committed to keeping them always in the dipping cabinet here, though it did sell out last night.
Vegan options available
Ryan: We’ve been making vegan (ice cream) for a while now. Originally it was coconut and almond milk based, but it wasn’t that creamy. We recently switched the recipe to oat milk. It is a lot more creamy, and we’re a little more comfortable pushing it.
Especially out here in Brookfield, we’ve gotten a lot of response for the vegan flavors.
If they could only eat one flavor
Ryan: It has to be something chocolate for me, probably Chocolate Brownie or Dirt Cake.
Justin: Normally, that would be me, but salted caramel, I don’t think I could give that one up.
dairy state delight
Ryan: All our milk and cream products come from Wisconsin dairy, for sure. How that affects us, it is all fresh and it doesn’t sit in a warehouse. It is pretty much getting driven here and we immediately make the ice cream with it. Our dairy is not sitting around for more than a week. We get the shipment, make the ice cream, and it goes out front or to the stores.
What’s in their freezer at home right now
Justin: I’m in production. I don’t try to take anything home, because I eat enough of it here really. If I do, I like to bring home whatever we have leftovers. I bring some to family and friends a lot though.
Ryan: I only eat added sugar on the weekends now, so I don’t eat a lot now. … But if I’m having a brownie or a piece of pie, there always has to be a scoop of ice cream. Always.
What they want to be known for
Ryan: Best ice cream in town! I do want to see bigger than the word town, better ice cream around.
Justin: Best ice cream ever.
Ryan: Our product is always what we want to be known for. If you look around here, it is not like it is anything fancy, but people have been coming, and they’re coming back because of the product we make. That’s what we want.
Best advice for opening or building a business
Ryan: I would say be prepared to work long hours and not make very much money. When I started I thought just one grocery store account I’d be rich. I got that Metcalfe’s account. “Yes, we made it. We’re rich!” Turned out to not even be close to the truth.
But also, people do come up and talk to me about how they want to start a business. My advice is just go for it. Life is short. If it is something you have a passion in, there is nothing to risk. There is money and stuff, but you can always make the money back. If you’re prepared for the workload, you go for it.
Justin: You have got to believe in yourself, too. If you don’t who else is going to?
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Fork. spoon. Life. explores the everyday relationship that local notables (within the food community and without) have with food. To suggest future personalities to profile, email email@example.com.