HARWICH — Does a dairy intolerance stop you when you have a craving for ice cream?
Well, Sweet Izzy has a vegan alternative that will soothe that weighty dilemma. The new business that began scooping homemade ice cream last weekend is dairy-free.
“What we offer is gluten-conscious, soy-free and dairy-free,” owner Michael Doucette said of the new business located along Route 28 at the Trampoline Center, which is owned by his wife Elizabeth's father.
Both Michael and Elizabeth Doucette grew up in Harwich and graduated from Harwich High School, but careers took them off-Cape to New York City and more recently Denver. While Denver is now considered their residence, career transitions have allowed them to spend their summers back home in Harwich.
After graduating from Simmons College, Elizabeth worked in the fashion industry in New York City, but she always had an interest in health and nutrition. In 2012 she entered a school for nutrition in New York City to learn more and experimented a lot with changing diets.
Elizabeth said she does not like eating soy and dairy products so it makes it hard to get full enjoyment out of ice cream. There are a few products available like sorbet and only a few ice cream shops providing limited alternatives. Michael said when on the Cape, they would take their kids over to the Ice Cream Cafe in Orleans.
“Every time I come to the Cape I want a place where I know what I’m going to get and not have to worry about it,” he said.
“I’ve been dairy-free for about 10 years and I was really missing ice cream,” Elizabeth said.
Michael said they started spending time in the test kitchen looking up recipes, but they had a hard time finding dairy-free options. So they made their own, which includes coconut cream and almond milk base and organic produce. Everything is non-GMO, Elizabeth said.
“We started giving samples away and the kids really liked it, the coconut comes through,” Michael said. “From a food standpoint everything has been good. The distributors have been great. It’s something different for the Cape and we’re excited.”
“People who want to be dairy-free will have a place to go and get full service,” Elizabeth said. “We’re trying to be as green as possible, even all the serviceware is disposable.”
Full service means both soft and hard ice cream, sundaes, banana splits, blizzards, frappes and milk shakes. The homemade waffle cones will also be gluten and soy free. Michael said Snowy Owl Coffee is being served and included in a Twisted Izzy blizzard.
Soft ice cream flavors are chocolate and vanilla with a variety of hard ice cream flavors, starting out with raspberry Oreo, maple walnut, banana fudge, chocolate peanut butter and strawberry shortcake. All are dairy-free, Michael emphasized.
The goal is to work with as many local companies and young entrepreneurs as possible, he added.
“I worked in finance for 16 and a half years and left that world to start this in November,” Michael said. “I left finance and I’m scooping ice cream and I couldn’t be happier. People are saying it’s so nice to have some place to go because I’m lactose intolerant or they’re reaching out and saying their kids don’t eat dairy.”
The Doucettes will be working closely with the Trampoline Center, which plans some expansion next summer. Elizabeth’s father, Phillip Smith, started the center 60 years ago. Smith had also run the former Melrose Inn for many years.
“We’re going back to the service industry,” Elizabeth said, adding the couple may open a Sweet Izzy shop in Denver. The one in Harwich will be seasonal, open from Memorial Day through Columbus Day, likely on weekends after Labor Day. They will keep the same hours as the Trampoline Center, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. during the summer. They anticipate a Sweet Izzy in Denver would be a year-round business.
“As my father-in-law was free thinking 60 years ago with the trampolines, Elizabeth is free thinking 60 years later,” Michael said. “This is her thing.”