“Free-From” Business Spotlight: A La Mode Shoppe, 100% Nut-Free Ice Cream with Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Options in NYC
One of the most common questions I see in the nut allergy community is “where can I find nut-free ice cream?!?” Here’s the answer: A La Mode Shoppe in NYC, a 100% nut-free ice cream shop with dairy-free and gluten-free options as well! A haven for those with food allergies, A La Mode Shoppe was opened by husband and wife team Sandy & Marc Roth with the hopes of creating a destination where everyone, even those with food allergies, could enjoy their small batch 100% nut-free ice cream made in-house, with toppings sourced from Vermont Nut Free and American Sprinkle Company. I chatted with owner Sandy Roth about how A La Mode Shoppe got started, her favorite flavor combo, how they keep a dedicated nut-free facility, the future of their business, and more!
AFW: How did A La Mode Shoppe get started?
Sandy: I work in wholesale in children’s fashion and my showroom is called “showroom a la mode” and my husband Marc is in the restaurant business. One of my first jobs was in an ice cream shop and we both love ice cream (especially at midnight when i was pregnant with our first daughter, I HAD to have it!) We had our eye on a charming retail space across the street from our house for years and always talked about what we’d do with it if we were able to buy it. During my second pregnancy Marc learned how to make ice cream and I started calling all of my friends for the cutest and coolest “ice cream inspired” clothing and gifts 🙂 We put two and two together and knew that we needed to buy the space and felt inspired to start our own ice cream business!
AFW: Your small-batch homemade ice cream is 100% nut-free, and you also have gluten-free and dairy-free options. How do you ensure there’s no cross contamination?
Sandy: Since we make the ice cream onsite ourselves we ensure that no nuts ever enter the building or our ice cream! We only work with nut-free vendors. We also have a full ingredient list on-hand for our products as we know that’s important to the food allergy community. We also offer dairy free frozen desserts, and to ensure there’s no cross-contamination we have a dedicated dipping well and visibly marked dairy free scoopers. While we are not certified gluten-free, our ice cream doesn’t contain any gluten. We do have cones which contain gluten, but we will be offering gluten-free cones in the Fall!
AFW: I was lucky enough to taste your wired (coffee) flavor. Delicious! What are the other flavors you’ve offered in the past?
Sandy: Some of our well-know flavors are: partly cloudy (cotton candy with marshmallows), pink sprinkle, speed bump (our take on rocky road with no nuts of course!), sea salt caramel, keep calm and cherry on, candy land, double mint burst and all of the traditional flavors including vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, etc. We are always coming up with new seasonal flavors and sorbets and also get great flavor requests from our guests.
AFW: You’ve provided such a gift to those with nut allergies, by making 100% nut-free ice cream. This is close to unheard of! What inspired you to make all your products nut-free?
Sandy: We wanted our ice cream to be enjoyed by everyone and our shop to be a place where people with allergies could feel safe. Our nephew has a peanut and tree nut allergy and as parents with young children in school we’ve also learned to be very aware and careful with food and snacks to make sure everyone is safe.
AFW: I love your tiny “doughnut” ice cream sandwiches (vanilla ice cream covered with dark chocolate.) How were these dreamt up?
Sandy: We had doughnut molds laying around and we needed something to eat for breakfast with our coffee, haha! We put two and two together, and the doughnut ice cream was born! They are amazing, we also offer them in a dairy-free version as well which is my favorite.
AFW: What do you use in place of dairy for the dairy-free ice cream?
Sandy: In the past we used coconut milk and made the ice cream in a separate facility. We decided after much research, that even though a coconut is not a “nut” the FDA considers it a tree nut. In order to stay true to our values and identity we will be using rice milk as a substitute and are currently working on a recipe. We’re hoping that the recipe should be available by Fall, but In the meantime we have amazing sorbets.
AFW:Â What’s your favorite ice cream flavor?
Sandy: That’s a tough one! Today it is Sea Salt Caramel, but this could easily change tomorrow! I also love our cherry ice cream as well.
AFW: What’s the winning ice cream + topping combination in your opinion?
AFW: Keep calm and cherry on with chocolate chips or pink sprinkle with extra sprinkles (you can never have too many sprinkles!)
AFW: Do you take accept special requests for flavors?
Sandy: We do! Some of our favorite young guests had a sleepover and brought us a list of flavors right before we closed, we got working on it!
AFW: I saw that you’re now offering pints of your ice cream in a supermarket! Are there plans for wider distribution?
Sandy: We’ve just completed building our factory and have started distributing to camps and have a few stores lined up! There will be a big announcement (and party) as soon as we are in stores. This means that we’ll also be able to ship our ice cream nation-wide.
AFW: Describe A La Mode Shoppe in three words
Sandy: Sweet. Safe. Fun.
Visit A La Mode Shoppe at 360 E 55th Street New York, New York 10022.