It’s easy to leave reality behind for a sweet moment inside this Sunbury gelataria. The fit-out is bubbly and bright, with colourful patterns emerging from black-panelled wood on the walls, and the pink and green glow of a neon ice-cream cone on the back wall (it’s almost entrancing – but the rainbow display of 32 flavours in the cabinet is even more so).
And then there’s the laser-cut Super Wood teardrop hanging from the roof. “It’s like a gelati upside down, dripping down,” says Joe Molinaro, who along with long-term friend Paul Vernuccio opened the first Augustus Gloop (in Pascoe Vale) in 2016. This sister store operates as a franchise, owned by Matt Ure, Karyn Ure, Bianca Scerri and Amanda Skipper.
Apart from its smaller size, Augustus Gloop – whose name is borrowed from the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory character, and which Molinaro and Vernuccio say will be open 365 days a year – is a mirror image of its older sibling. Both stores were designed by Robert Pisaniello of Eon Design.
Vernuccio, also co-owner of Parkstone cafe, says they wanted the space to feel different to other gelatarias and ice-cream shops, many of which have only a small area for customers. “They walk in one metre [and] order – there’s nowhere to sit down,” he says. “We’ve designed it like a cafe.”
“We need the family to sit for half an hour, enjoy the product, not rush home and have it, not sit on the park bench. We want them to sit on our benches.”
In the cabinet, find a mix of Wonka-inspired and more traditional flavours. There’s fig and almond; chunky Tim Tam; liquorice; crumbly strawberry cheesecake; sweet cotton candy; charcoal vanilla; and espresso; plus sorbets such as mango, blood orange and lemon. Rotating specials include an (alcohol-free) Aperol spritz sorbet, pavlova, buffalo-milk gelato and more. The team uses roasted nuts, organic fruits and purees to craft each flavour. “We like to keep it as natural as possible,” Vernuccio says.
While modifications have been made to the gelato-making process over the years, Molinaro and Vernuccio are careful to prioritise flavour over quantity.
Vernuccio says larger manufacturers use continuous freezers, which can efficiently produce more product, but can also lead to “highly-aerated” gelato. Instead, the team here uses batch freezers, but the trade-off is they can only produce a certain amount.
“Instead of having one machine, we’ve got four. And we just put two more staff on,” he says.
The opening of this Sunbury location has given Molinaro and Vernuccio the confidence to grow the Augustus Gloop brand; they want to open another eight sites (Essendon, Point Cook, Eltham, Dandenong, Preston, Yarraville, Werribee, Mordialloc) by October this year. For now, all production happens in Pascoe Vale, but when the Essendon flagship opens it’ll take over. There’ll also be a gelato “laboratory”, where customers can look into the kitchen.
There are also plans to switch to bio-degradable cups and packaging. “They’re making it with bamboo, which is about 30 per cent dearer,” says Molinaro. “But we’re going to absorb that cost for the planet – and our kids.”
Augustus Gloop Gelatery Sunbury
96A O’Shanassy Street, Sunbury
(03) 8746 8650