Bulli Tops gelato a hit for busy family

The family which opened the Gelato Emporium at Bulli Tops late in 2013 say the business is doing better trade than they expected.

The new eatery and retail space is run by the Di Francesca family.

John, Josephine, Robert, Laura and Joanna Di Francesca of the Gelato Emporium. Picture: GREG ELLIS

John, Josephine, Robert, Laura and Joanna Di Francesca of the Gelato Emporium. Picture: GREG ELLIS

They also founded Gelato Ingredients Manufacturers of Australia (GIMA), which recently relocated from the Central West of NSW.

"We have been open a few months now and the reaction has been amazing," director Robert Di Francesca said.

"And we have had a lot of repeat customers. A lot of locals are coming up. At the moment, I think we are getting more locals but there has been a lot of tourists and Sydney commuters, and bus tours."

Mr Di Francesca said seven local people had already been employed and he expected to get busier with Easter and the school holidays coming up.

"We got smashed through Christmas and Easter is going to be another busy period," he said.

"And even through winter, gelato sales do not generally drop off so much."

Mr Di Francesca said people who had been to the Southern Gateway Centre before were enjoying having more variety now.

He sees the Gelato Emporium as complementing the restaurant and function centre next door, Altitude 1148.

Mr Di Francesca said it was not uncommon for an entire family to hop out of a car and all order a gelato.

"Then the parents get a coffee as well," he said.

The original family business is a commercial producer of gelato and sorbet manufacturing products.

GIMA manufactures gelato ingredients by transforming raw ingredients such as nuts, fruits, and cocoa into a paste.

The paste is then used to supply to artisan gelato makers, industrial gelato and ice-cream manufacturers, pastry chefs and chefs to then transform into a final product such as gelato, ice-cream, biscuit flavouring, food garnishes, toppings and spreads.

"Our gelato manufacturing [the ingredients] now is done in Taren Point," Mr Di Francesca said. "We sell that to the industry.

"We use all Australian-made ingredients. The gelato is made here. We also sell coffees and cakes here and we are getting a liquor licence soon.

"We are going to do antipasto plates soon and we have an alfresco area. We are a one-stop-shop really. We don't do any cooking or anything because next door does that. We are just quick food.

"Our retail section is also doing well. We sell spreads, local olives from down Nowra way and we try to source local produce if we can."

Mr Di Francesca said his family was quickly falling in love with Wollongong.

"I am actually thinking of coming down here to live," he said.

Parents John and Josephine Di Francesca are also involved in running the business.

Sister Joanna Di Francesca works in the Gelato Emporium weekdays and his other sister, Laura Di Francesca, works at the factory during the week and at Bulli Tops on weekends.

"It is a family business so we are all involved," Mr Di Francesca said.


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