Gelato creations by New York's best chefs share a common provenance: Il laboratorio del gelato



At the age of 19, Jon Snyder started his first gelato business calling it "Ciao Bella". At 25, he sold it and went back to school to get an MBA. Today, 16 years later, he has again started doing what he does best: creating gelato. Working in close collaboration with the finest chefs in New York his "laboratorio del gelato" has created over 200 new gelato flavors for their prestigious restaurants. We visited Jon just as he was upsizing his production facilities.

Jon Snyder is not your average entrepreneur. He has actually established the same business for the second time. Inspired by stints in his Italian grandmother's ice-cream parlor, he left school at 19 and launched his own ice cream business. For six years, he worked long and hard at building up the business, putting in seven days a week, and was rewarded, at 25, with a burnout. He decided to heed the signs and sold his first business "Ciao Bella" which laid the groundwork for a large company that, today, sells ice cream in many parts of the US.

Sixteen years have passed since then. A long time, in which Jon took a completely different direction. After going back to college and earning his MBA at Columbia, he went on to trade shares on Wall Street. First for Lehman Brothers, then for ABN Amro. Yet, Jon says, he was never able to recapture that excitement, that impetus to get up in the morning and rush to work, the get-up-and-go that he had felt in his first venture. So he decided to give it another whirl. And that has turned out to be an excellent decision.

Today, Jon creates gelato flavors in close cooperation with New York's best chefs which are then offered exclusively in their respective restaurants. "The Lab" – as it is called - has invented and produces over 200 new gelato creations. Actually, it took only a short while before Jon and his select team found themselves affiliated with the most sought-after restaurateurs in the Big Apple. Such is the demand that the two gelato machines churn away non-stop 10 hours a day.

We only process fresh fruit. The competition works with frozen purees, whereas we prefer to peel 300 mangos by hand.

Wholesale business generates approximately 90% of his turnover and this is how he wants to keep it. Jon is not aiming to expand and end up with 15 different venues. "We want to be the best gelato address in New York City and that means we have to stay small and exclusive. And we aim to continue working hand in glove with the foremost chefs. That is and will remain our core business."

Set up nine years ago, the small manufacturing facility in Orchard Street, which was bursting out of its seams, relocated last year to larger premises a couple of hundred yards away. The retail cafe where a few of the exclusive flavors are available is also due for upsizing. And one of Jon Snyder’s major plans is the creation of a showroom for his main customers, the chefs: Expansive glass facing will enable visitors and pedestrians to watch the different production stages in the laboratorio live.

Our employees are proud to work in this environment. They like that “the Lab” is becoming publicly known and people can see that we really do make everything by hand.

Jon certainly has a point there, and we are sure we will be hearing a lot more of "The Lab" in the coming years. We most certainly recommend a visit!

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