Penny Ice Creamery opens new locations in Palo Alto and Los Altos


Photo by Rachel Lee

As customers flood the shop to get a taste of the fresh, scratch-made ice cream, lively music and loud laughter ring through the new Palo Alto location of The Penny Ice Creamery.

Zachary Davis, the co-owner of The Penny Ice Creamery, said he decided with his co-owner Kendra Baker to form a food business together and established the ice cream shop in 2009 in Santa Cruz. They have recently expanded to open locations in Los Altos and Palo Alto.

“We were going to start a bakery at first but decided to open an ice creamery because we thought it would be best to make one product and do it really well,” Davis said. 

One of the workers behind the counter at the Palo Alto location is the Director of Operations, Rahul Bhambhani. Bhambhani said the brand philosophy of the creamery makes it more than just an ordinary dessert store. 

“I was a guest at the ice creamery long before I joined the team,” Bhambhani said. “I liked how it was made from scratch in Santa Cruz with locally sourced ingredients.” 

Davis said one objective that the company has worked towards since it first opened its doors is maintaining a strong connection with local communities. 

“We are always trying to give back more than we take out,” Davis said. “We’ve hosted fundraisers and donations with local schools and organizations to spread our joy.” 

Bhambhani said The Penny Ice Creamery  features local produce by keeping its supply chains as local as possible. 

“One main brand philosophy is to feature artisans, growers, foragers and to have a net-regenerative impact on our community,” Bhambhani said. “We don’t just go into a new community with the intention of making money.”

In the spirit of giving back, Bhambhani said The Penny chooses to work with local growers in the community to give them a spotlight. 

“There are many places that do farm-to-table, but as far as ice cream goes, I don’t think many businesses offer that,” Bhambhani said. “When you enter our store, you’ll see the specific farm names written under the flavors because we want people to know that the ingredients in our ice cream are not sourced from random places outside of the area.” 

And the current flavors offered at the shops reflect the brand’s loyalty to its partnerships with local farmers. 

“We always have our fresh mint chip ice cream, which is from Sea to Sky Farm in Santa Cruz, and we also have our ‘Bee’s Business, which uses oranges from Abounding Harvest Mountain Farm close to Los Gatos,” Bhambhami said. “In addition, we have our Chamomile Dried Apricot, and we source the apricots from Sea to Sky Farm.” 

Bhambhani said one unique flavor customers love is the candy cap mushroom, which is seasonal and sold exclusively in January. 

“Kendra, the owner , goes and forages them from the Santa Cruz mountains,” Bhambhani said. “It has a really nice buttery flavor. People tend to see it and think it’s really weird, but then they try it and think it’s amazing.” 

According to Davis, the labeling of specific farms goes hand-in-hand with the creamery’s second brand value, which is transparency. 

“We want to create our operations around making everything from scratch so that it is clear to us and the guests where everything is coming from and where it’s being made,” Davis said. 

Whether the goal is to add joy or laughter, Bhambhani said the unique qualities of The Penny Ice Creamery would not exist without the wealth of agriculture surrounding the Bay Area.  

“We are from a very agriculturally rich region in California,” Bhambhani said. “We are very close to Watsonville, which has a lot of agriculture, and there are lots of local farms in Santa Cruz. The owner has a great relationship with many farms in this region, so we strive to mix various products such as berries, citrus, dates (and) candy cap mushrooms into our products.”