The interior of now-shuttered Scream Sorbet in Temescal. [Photo: Tiny Tiny Fork]
We mentioned earlier this month that Scream Sorbet's Nathan Kurz was undergoing some financial troubles and might close at the end of the month, and now, sadly, it appears he's had to abandon ship even sooner than that. The shop had been operating as a licensed food court, which turned out to be illegal; Kurz either needed to get a commissary kitchen to supplement the operation or do a big remodel to become compliant as a typical shop, neither of which they could afford. So no one was surprised when the health department shut down Scream on Friday afternoon, with Kurz telling Inside Scoop "they were polite, and in the right."
The other big problem for Scream is also financial: unlike ice cream, sorbet is 80 to 90 percent fruit, which means it costs almost the same as fresh fruit pound-per-pound, with very little filler. That leaves Kurz's margins quite low, a problem that's exacerbated by the typical winter low season when most folks aren't interested in grabbing a scoop. Though he tried to ameliorate this by adding breakfast, Kurz ultimately couldn't make it work, and was more than $50K in the hole when the health department stopped the show. He's still looking for investors or someone to help him navigate health-department bureaucracy. (And just to be perfectly clear: "The sorbet is still safe. It's our permits that are the problem," Kurz wrote on Twitter. "Alameda Health shut down our shop because we're not properly permitted. There are no food safety issues—all our sorbet is still safe to eat.")
In the meantime, Scream made appearances this weekend at the Grand Lake Farmers' Market on Saturday and the Palo Alto Farmers' Market on Sunday to sell off some of their remaining pints. It's unclear at the moment whether they'll maintain that business even with the loss of the brick-and-mortar shop, but we'll keep you posted if they do.
· Scream Sorbet founder Nathan Kurz on possible closure [Inside Scoop]
· Scream Sorbet May Shut Down [~ ESF ~]
· All Scream Sorbet coverage [~ ESF ~]