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Berkeley’s Stalwart Ici Ice Cream Closes

It’s a sad day

Tory Putnam

Mary Canales has closed her two locations of Ici Ice Cream, the Berkeley shop known for its unique flavors and constant lines.

The first Ici opened 12 years ago on College Avenue in the Elmwood to immediate acclaim — in part because Canales came from nine years as pastry chef of Chez Panisse. That culinary influence made its way into Ici’s flavors, like cardamom rose, Earl Grey tea, and candied meyer lemon. Just one year ago, Canales expanded for the first time with a second petite shop in downtown Berkeley on University Avenue.

Today, ice cream lovers found the windows of the original Ici papered up, and calls to all of Ici’s phone lines went unanswered.

The timing for the closure is surprising, in part because of the second location but also because of Ici’s enduring popularity. Up until it closed, it remained one of the most popular ice cream shops in the Bay Area — even though Ici’s unique flavors started to feel slightly more commonplace as more and more quality ice cream shops opened nearby, such as Smitten Ice Cream, Curbside Creamery, and Humphry Slocombe.