A man and his passion for something can be a powerful motivator. Take Kenny Sarnoski II. He and his wife, Linda, a young couple with school age children, had day jobs. Kenny was a sub-contractor with Architectural Openings Inc., his father's glass company, and Linda, a marketing coordinator at a large software company. Their family was attempting the paleo (caveman) diet, however found that their love for ice cream was making it impossible to follow. Linda told Kenny that she just couldn't forgo the creamy, cold treat, so he took it upon himself to attempt a coconut milk incarnation of his wife's favorite dessert, promising to "make the best non-dairy ice cream." The first batch "was horrible," the couple tells me. However, through trial and error, they came to realize Kenny was on to something.
Since those beginning days, Kenny and Linda took the leap of faith into the world of small business, opening up The Screamery, 50 S. Houghton Road, Suite 120. They are not completely green to Tucson's food scene, however. Linda's father, Wayne Trimble, was a chef here in town at Black Angus. He also helped start up the Baggins' commissary. Their brother-in- law, John Murphy, is currently serving as president of the local sandwich shop company. However, it was Kenny's creative homemade ice cream that was the catalyst for their vision to "bring modern day flavors to ice cream, made the old fashioned way."
Kenny has come a long way since playing with his single batch ice cream maker on the kitchen counter with his wife and daughters. He realized that ice cream shops were not using organic sugars, the best milk, or creating their own bases. So Kenny hooked up with Straus Family Creamery for its certified organic, non-homogenized, grass fed, no antibiotic milk. He also sources his ingredients like marshmallows and pretzels to make sure his ice cream contains no harsh chemicals, aiming to maximize the flavor. Ken gained a serious unique edge over other ice cream shops by becoming a certified pasteurizer, the only one in the state, creating his own cream base, rather than ordering it from Shamrock Foods and starting in the same place as everyone else does. This allows him to start adding flavors through the pasteurizing process rather than just slap some M & M's in at the end. In tasting his ice cream, you can tell in the first bite what a difference it makes.
The Screamery opened on the far Eastside, at the corner of Houghton and Broadway, on July 12. The place opened to quite a bit of fanfare, so much in fact, that they closed their doors just three days after opening to upgrade the equipment capacity to keep up with demand. Not only that, Kenny, being absolutely fearless, packed up three of his favorite flavors (Sweet Cream Honeycomb, Munchies and S'mores) on opening day and competed in Maynard's Ice Cream Showdown, winning best overall ice cream. The Sarnoskis in one short month of being in business are already talking expansion, with plans to open a second location somewhere on the Northwest side.
The shop itself is a throw back to old school ice creamin', with a warm and cozy feeling space, made for families to come in and spend some time together at one of the few tables or the huge, beautiful wood counter.
I planned my first visit to speak with the Sarnoskis, purposely on what can only be described as 'ice cream off hours,' between lunch and dinner on a weekday, and there were multiple families and a couple enjoying ice cream and chatting it up. The star of the show is on display in its glass case. The ice cream speaks for itself—beautiful, frozen, sweet cream in containers begging for the scooper. The Sarnoskis had a passion and a dream, and now we all scream for the Screamery.