Ciao Bella began when Pearce saw an ad in 1989 for a small ice cream shop in a newspaper, which was by then 7 years old. Believing it to be a brilliant idea to buy it, he borrowed $90,000 from his mother- enough to buy the store, a freezer, a pick up truck, and the ice cream recipes for 60 flavors. In the beginning, everything, from mixing flavors to delivering the product, was done by Pearce and a few part-time employees. By 1993, he managed to bring sales up to $1 million. In the same year, he was introduced to a banker, Charlie Apt, who was the partner he was looking for to expand to a larger market. Thanks to his knack for sales, which included cold-calling countless restaurants and adding colors and logos to the then-white pints, product sales doubled to $2 million within another year.
A worldwide search was conducted in 1999 for an executive chef. Ciao Bella's owners found Danilo Zecchin, an international chef. Danilo draws many insiprations from his childhood memories of Northern Italy.
Although the name of the company includes the word "gelato", Ciao Bella also serves sorbet and frozen yogurt. Ciao Bella can also custom make flavors by chef's request. Ciao Bella's gelato is handmade, based on a family recipe, with 12% butterfat and has 20% air by volume (In comparison to up to 50% air found in some ice creams, and 7~8% found in most gelatos).
Awards & Achievements
Ciao Bella has won multiple awards, many from the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade (NASFT). Zagat has also named Ciao Bella as the "Best Ice Cream in New York" in 2002. In addition, the Angeleno magazine has named it the finest in Los Angeles, and it has been chosen to be the House Purveyor for the James Beard Foundation.