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Bringing Gelato to Milwaukee's West Side

Off the Cuff with Cold Spoons’ Brett Swider

Dec. 30, 2013
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Located near the corner of 60th and Vliet, Cold Spoons Gelato (5924 W. Vliet St.) was opened in 2008 by Brett Swider and Sandy Murphy, who also own the Highlands Café across the street. Their intention was to offer fresh food at reasonable prices. Six years later, the Highlands Café and Cold Spoons Gelato have helped distinguish the Washington Heights neighborhood as a dining destination. Swider recently took a break from running back and forth across 60th Street to discuss the café’s beginnings and the partners’ foray into gelato.


How did you get into the restaurant business?

Sandy and I live in the same neighborhood. I was in the concrete business and Sandy was an accountant, and we were both a little tired of the corporate world, so when the space opened up, we felt like bringing something new and unique to the area. We both have a passion for cooking and are fortunate to have spouses who have been very supportive and committed to us.


Why gelato?

I’m not a big frozen custard fan and I was looking for something a little different. I had experienced gelato on a vacation to Italy and ended up looking for a gelato place nearby and couldn’t find one. I had the flavor and the texture on my mind that whole time, and because I couldn’t find it, I decided to make it.


So how has business been going? You’ve managed to survive for six years now.

Yes, we’ve managed to survive. We’re proud to provide a high-quality product at a decent price and have been attracting return costumers. It’s both of our passions to provide a product from around the area and to make sure it’s the best that’s out there. If I don’t feel that it’s the best we can make, then it’s not going to make it to our shelves.

And that also goes for our wholesale products, which we are thinking of expanding to grocery stores soon.

Right now, we have a small handful, but during the summertime—our peak season—we’ll have up to a dozen.


How many flavors does Cold Spoons produce?

Right now we offer 24 daily flavors, and of those 24, 12 are considered sorbets. The sorbets are nondairy and are made using fresh fruits and other ingredients. I know that with vegan products there is a concern with the processing of the sugar because some sugar processors use animal byproducts. We are still a long way from labeling the sorbets as “vegan,” but they are absolutely vegetarian friendly.


Can customers request flavors?

Yes, we have a growing list of people who will request flavors. One person asked if we could make bourbon pecan gelato and we named it Branson Bourbon Barrel Pecan gelato. That’s really what makes this product so fun to do is that if you can think of it, you can do it.


For more information about Cold Spoons Gelato, visit coldspoonsgelato.com.


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