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Maes Gelateria: A College Student With A Love of Gelato

Downtown Springfield, Missouri is a hub for local businesses. Boutique shops, restaurants, art galleries, movie theaters, and more bring the heart of Springfield to life.  Until the summer of 2016, Downtown was missing something special: a place to enjoy fresh gelato. 21-year-old Cameron Maes opened Maes Gelateria last year, providing residents of Springfield with a different type of dessert.

(Photo courtesy of Taylor Stanton.)

Maes studies finance at Drury University, and he says he has always been interested in entrepreneurship.  While studying at Missouri State University, Maes began to work on his idea for Maes Gelateria.  After a year at MSU, Maes transferred to Loyola Marymount University in California.  Over 1,600 miles from home he decided he was finally ready to put his business plan into action.

“I started it as something that was theoretical.  I would work on stuff for it, but I didn’t have plans to actually do it.  The next thing I knew I was starting a business,” says Maes.  To pursue his idea, he moved back to his hometown of Springfield, Missouri.

Maes’s hard work and creativity has made Maes Gelateria a delightful addition to Springfield.  The gelateria serves gelato, gelato pies, sorbet, coffee, and affogato. In the future, Maes plans to sell gelato burgers with scoops of gelato sandwiched between a sweet brioche bun.

As the owner and founder of his own business, Maes also serves as the head gelato maker, developing recipes for new gelato flavors himself.  He describes making new flavors as an experiment, and he says he has “luck with guessing.”  After a few batches, Maes perfects each flavor.

Making gelato is different than making ice cream.  Gelato is milk based, unlike ice cream, which is cream based.

Maes says, “The cream has a lot of butterfat in it, and it allows you to whip a lot of air into it.”  On the other hand, gelato’s milk base has less butterfat, so less air can be whipped into it.  This makes the dessert denser than ice cream.  “Ice cream you can whip about 300% air in it.  With gelato, you only whip about 25-30%,” says Maes.  Gelato makers churn the dessert at a slower speed to avoid adding extra air.  The dessert’s concentration gives it its rich flavor.

(Lemon cookie gelato from Maes Gelateria. Photo courtesy of Taylor Stanton.)

Another reason gelato has more flavor than ice cream is because the two desserts are stored at different temperatures.  According to Maes, ice cream is kept at temperatures of negative ten to 12 degrees.  These temperatures are cold enough to numb the tongue’s taste buds, which causes consumers of ice cream to no longer taste the ice cream’s flavor after a period of time.  Gelato, however, is stored at nine to ten degrees, so it is never cold enough to numb taste buds.

Maes Gelateria is located on the corner of Walnut and Jefferson.  This strategic location attracts patrons of the surrounding businesses and students from the surrounding colleges.  The gelateria caters to college students and young adults with its fun flavors, late hours and modern vibe.  Maes says, “I like to see my peers.  I try to make [Maes Gelateria] a relaxing atmosphere.”

Erin Benedict and John Fritz are patrons of Maes Gelateria.  Benedict, a junior at Drury University, describes it as “a cool place to hang out.”  She appreciates that the staff of the gelateria lets costumers try multiple flavors before they make a purchase.

Fritz, an employee at The Artisan’s Oven, says, “Maes Gelateria is an excellent addition to Springfield.”  He enjoys their unique desserts like affogato, which is gelato topped with a shot of espresso.

Maes Gelateria’s success in the community has allowed it to expand to another location in Springfield on Glenstone and Sunshine.  The second Maes Gelateria building “is a shipping container, like those big boxes you see on boats, that I made into a store,” says Maes.  The new location is awaiting its finishing touches and will be open soon.

As Maes Gelateria continues to grow, Maes would like the store to stay in the family.  He wishes to pass down his business to his younger siblings, one of whom is currently in high school.

Maes says, “My goal is that hopefully by the time I’m ready to move on to my next thing, I can pass [the business] to [my brother].”

Maes’s story shows how anyone, at any age, can achieve their loftiest goals.  Following his passion for entrepreneurship, Maes took Maes Gelateria from idea to reality.  His dedication, hard work and ingenuity is what makes him a successful business owner.  Now, he shares his achievement and his gelato with the community.

 


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