Now that Powder’s first storefront has struck a nerve on Divisadero with a Californian take on Taiwanese shaved ice, the business is trying its luck at a second outpost, with a trailer in Mission Bay’s semi-permanent food truck park Spark Social (601 Mission Bay Boulevard). Starting Saturday, a Powder location there will serve ribbons of its popular frozen flavors like black sesame, horchata, and cereal milk, while also adding a trio of new alcoholic ones. Those are rum-infused shaved snow in piña colada, strawberry daiquiri, and passionfruit mojito flavors.
Powder founders Mimi Hanley and David Chung, who met as employees of Dropbox before leaving to launch their business, devised the new flavors (available thanks to Spark’s liquor license) after customers requested them at catered events where booze and Powder shaved snow were served side by side. The new product’s alcohol content is a bit shy of a standard drink. “I’m kinda a lightweight, but after a full bowl, I’m definitely feeling it,” says Chung.
Developing shaved snow with alcohol content took some tweaks to the freezing process Chung and Hanley already use. Powder’s shaved snow — as the team is careful to call their product in an effort to educate unfamiliar customers — is made from blocks of frozen water and Strauss dairy with added flavors. Those blocks are then shaved into cups (and, at the new location, waffle cone cups) then topped with sweet milk glaze, honey, fruit, cereal, and more options. The result is still creamy, but lighter than traditional ice cream.
Powder imported a custom freezer and shaver from Taiwan to make its product, where shaved snow is popular, but different. There, Hanley explains, it’s a group treat, served in large, tray-sized portions. Chung was first hooked on something similar in Vancouver and Richmond, British Columbia. At the time, the Taiwanese sweet was already popular there, but hadn’t yet made its way to the US: The machines typically used to make it weren’t approved by the FDA, and without enough US demand, manufacturers hadn’t even bothered to seek compliance.
But now, thanks to Powder and others, demand is growing steadily. Powder sees potential for many more stores: “We definitely aspire to have Powder be more than two locations,” says Hanley. But so far, her ambitions are focused on Powder’s branding and opening one location at a time.
“On day one, David was like, ‘we should have 100 Powders, they should be in malls,’” Hanley says. “As we’ve done one, and now two under our belt, we’re understanding how to best grow.”
Starting April 28, Powder’s hours at Spark Social will be Monday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. During Happy Hour, Monday through Friday from 4 to 7 p.m., a flight of Powder’s three alcoholic flavors is available for $7.