Follow up: The Dutch Udder

Dutch Udder ice cream two scoops in a cup

AOA is on summer break. So we'll have new follow-ups with people we've met and covered during the last year (or so).

Kehmally Karl and Jeff McCauley started making ice cream as a side project -- creating fun flavors for family and friends. Slowly and methodically, they've turned a hobby, and an incredible talent for creating inventive flavors, into a successful small business: The Dutch Udder.

Flavors found on their ever-changing menu include Nine Pin Cider Sorbet, Grasshopper, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and Rice Crispy Treat ice cream.

At first, they sold ice cream from a cart at markets and festivals and special events. And three years ago the then-fledgling business was also finalist in the AOA Startup Grant contest. Since then, Jeff and Kehmally have opened a storefront on River Street in downtown Troy and they've captured awards for their Philly Vanilla and for their other inventive flavors.

Jeff talked with us about their experience in the ice cream biz so far.

Jeff and Kem in 2015.

What's new? Catch us up. 

So much has transpired since the last time we spoke  with AOA.

We just recently received second place in Upstate NY's Best Ice Cream Stand competition and judges' choice for best non-dairy and best over-the-top ice cream or the most unusual but delicious and best indoor seating.

In March of 2017 we rented a storefront at 282 River Street in Downtown Troy and built it out in a way to pay homage to our original cart. We are very fortunate to have had the opportunity to open a shop in Troy. We graciously thank the community, other businesses and customers from the cart that made this a reality, without their continued support, none of this would have been possible.

In April 2017, Kehmally took a leap of faith and resigned as a nurse and took the reins, spearheading the production and storefront operations. We officially opened our store on May 18th (518). Within the first month of business, we realized we had outgrown our little ice cream machine, so we purchased a much larger machine that allowed us to quadruple our production and cut our production time in half. We submitted our Vanilla Bean Ice Cream to the World Dairy Expo in Wisconsin to get non-biased feedback from their judges to help hone our recipes. This little endeavor won us 1st place in the world in the Philly Vanilla category. Winning first in the world, required us to travel to Madison in October to receive our trophy and auction off three gallons of our ice cream. November rolled around and we were comfortable enough with our storefront operations to have our official grand opening, press release and ribbon cutting, making us an additional force in the revitalization of downtown Troy. During the cooler months and holidays, we sold pints and pies allowing us to close for the months of January and part of February to regroup and do some preventative maintenance on our equipment. We reopened toward the end of February 2018 to many familiar faces and the support of the community once again!  

Dutch Udder Pie.jpg
What have you learned so far? 

We have learned that running a storefront is vastly different than a mobile cart! There isn't enough time in a day for you to ever get ahead and time management becomes essential to making ends meet. Logistics become imperative to your sanity, product needs to be made and  prepared, and stock needs to be rotated, all while running the storefront and dealing with permits, certifications, utilities, and payroll. This alone is no small feat for one person! Despite all this, Kehmally has taken on these tasks and continues to dedicate her life to making the best possible ice cream she can. There have been many nights where Kem is up late creating new flavors, doing paperwork, texting, emailing or simply looking for new creative projects to keep ahead of the curve.

We've also learned that having reliable employees scooping at the shop is key to lessening the burden so Kem can focus on her craft and concentrate on the big picture.   

Dutch Udder ice cream cart Slidin Dirty 2016-August
The Dutch Udder cart scooping up ice cream outside Slidin' Dirty in Troy in 2016.

What has surprised you? 

Community support. For example, our bench was stolen a few weeks ago. When we posted this on social media, the response was overwhelming! Our customers pushed and shared over 450 times that our bench had been stolen and that we were on the lookout to have it returned. We can't get over the awareness and concern that our customers and other local businesses had for us to see our bench returned safely. We love Troy and everything it has to offer with the good people who frequent our shop, without them we couldn't possibly be in the position we're in. 
What's a frustration that, if you could wipe it away, would make things easier? 

There are a number of frustrations that are out of our control and they mostly stem from not owning the building and storefront we currently occupy. We are at the mercy of the construction going on above us on the 2nd and 3rd floors. This has forced us to limit our hours of operation by a minimum of 4 hours a day during the week. Last summer we were open at noon and served the local community during their lunch breaks. This spring has brought a new challenge and has kept us from hiring additional employees to work the shop during these restricted hours. Once the construction above is complete, our doors will again open at noon and we will be hiring additional employees.  
What has felt like a win? 

There are so many things that have made us feel like we are becoming a success. One is definitely seeing repeat customers, another would be the expressions on the faces of new customers when they taste our ice cream for the first time. A feather-in-our-hat would be winning World's Best Philly Vanilla last summer at the World Dairy Expo in Wisconsin. All of these factors give us that warm and fuzzy where we know we're doing something right! 

The other day we were blindsided by another local business who stated that we were "another staple in the community," we had no idea that others felt this way about us and that we were having this type of impact on the community. That was very flattering to hear and it gives us inspiration to continue with the collaborations and networking with other businesses in the area.  
What's next? 

We have a lot of ideas and are ambitiously looking forward to our future with open eyes. At this point nothing is off the table and we are confident we will take steps to maintain the highest quality ice cream no matter how or when we grow.


This place's non-dairy ice cream is shockingly good.

A recent addition to the DU's lineup is the Heifer Milkshake.

Boom! Drop the scoop. It's that good.

We love Dutch Udder! Some recent favorite flavors we've enjoyed are hot cocoa, chocolate stout, and a strawberry rhubarb granita. It think there was a death wish coffee flavor, too. Everything is so good! The only problem is not having a chance to try all of the flavors, and then when you come back there are different flavors to try.

I've got some big love for the root beer float, made with root beer from Delmar's Royal Meadery.

This place is awesome, and the proprietors are both so nice. Jeff was happy to talk with me about the ice cream biz some time on a cold, cloudy day, when the shop wasn't busy. He gave me a taste of the vanilla—though I ordered something else—and it really is that good: super high-quality real vanilla.

I didn't know they had vegan ice cream - thank you Luke for mentioning that... I'll have to give them a try soon!

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