The Las Vegas, NV. Vegan community has slowly been growing over the years as veganism has become more mainstream. It was heart breaking when the very successful vegan ice cream shop Atomic 7 that was owned by Ginger Corbett was forced to close its doors. It is safe to say everyone including its owners were heartbroken.
However, this wasn’t the end for Atomic 7 it will live on in the hearts of its many customers. Corbett and her business partner are currently in the process of looking for a location for their new vegan bakery called A la Mode, which will also sell ice cream. In the meantime you can purchase A la Mode’s cupcakes on their website.
Recently, Ginger Corbett took some time out of her busy day of delivering cupcakes to sit down at a local Whole Foods to talk with Global Looking Glass about A la Mode and their dedication to creating a high quality cupcake that brightens their customers day.
For our readers that are not familiar with Atomic 7 what was it?
Atomic 7 was an ice cream experience like no other! A place where everyone was able to gather & enjoy ice cream & waffle cones, no matter what their dietary preference or choice. We allowed our customers to create their own tailored flavor & froze it in front of them using our patented freezing process that included liquid nitrogen. All our ingredients are certified organic, gluten free & vegan. Our process in making the frozen desserts allowed our customers to not only pick their milk base (i.e coconut, almond, soy & rice) but also pick their flavor choice, sugar preference & of course toppings and fruit or candy mix ins.
How does A la Mode compare to Atomic 7?
a la mode is all that Atomic 7 was we have simply streamlined the freezing process and introduced a full line of vegan, gluten free & of course organic bakery items.
How hard is it to source your ingredients?
It’s not hard to source them it’s just a little more time consuming to seek out suppliers and find products you can trust. Once the leg work is done it’s just a case of using the same company as we are limited to who we can source from.
What challenges have you faced when it comes to creating a yummy tasting cupcake that vegans and non vegans will enjoy?
By removing familiar ingredients such as butter and eggs poses as a slight challenge not only when baking. But also when serving the final product. People are used to these flavors and have a certain expectation when cupcakes are presented. The minute you say they are vegan and gluten free non vegan/gluten free people turn up their nose. However, once people try our cakes and cupcakes they are often surprised at how yummy they actually are. I challenge myself to bake to a high standard where you cannot tell if you are eating a ‘main stream’ cupcake or that which has different ingredients. Just because we are switching out the run of the mill ingredients doesn’t mean we have to lack in flavor or taste.
From your own observation, search and interaction with your customers have you noticed that there are more children developing food allergies?
Yes, I was very surprised by the rice and corn allergies that seem to present and growing. I was unaware of such allergies until parents would come into the store asking if our products were rice and/or corn free.
From your observation what is it like for the parents and you to see a child be able to eat ice cream or birthday cake for the first time?
It melts my heart. To see not only the child bite into their first scoop of ice cream or cake but the impact it has on their parents. Knowing they can now join the masses and go out for cake and ice cream. This is why I love what I do.
What are your food and utensil segregation practices?
Everything is labeled between dairy and non dairy. We also have separate washing practices and serving/prep areas. Everything has and must be kept separate.
After everything that happened with Atomic 7, why open up a new shop?
I have received so many heartwarming emails and kind words from our regular customers. Atomic 7 was part of a community that allowed everyone to be equal. We had created a family and I was more heartbroken to lose this than anything else. It saddened me to think a birthday would be missed or a celebration with no cake and ice cream! I wanted to rejoin the community and see all those happy faces again. Knowing the joy it brought to everyone and the support they have given me makes it all worth doing again.
What has been your most memorable experience when it comes to serving ice cream or cupcakes?
Having a family come in with their little boy who was autistic, he had brought his friends with him and wanted to celebrate his birthday at Atomic 7. They picked out their treats and were sat enjoying them when a song came on that he loved. He got up and began dancing and singing to it. I looked over and his mom had tears in her eyes. She looked at me and told me he never talks when he is out and very rarely at home let alone dance! It brings tears of joy to my eyes and still gives me goose bumps when I think back to that day.
What has been the most challenging thing you have experienced with both companies?
Finding funding for the business has been challenging. Also products are more expensive. However I don’t let this dictate that I will then mark up my prices just because of this. Our prices are on par with main stream bakeries and ice cream parlors out there. I don’t believe in over charging people just because they want to eat a higher quality dessert or because they have a dietary choice/restriction
Since you are currently in the process of finding a space to put a la mode, what is your dream for A la Mode to look like and will it serve both ice cream and cupcakes?
a la mode will serve both ice cream and cupcakes. We will have a full bakery line and of course offer our regular smoothies, teas, coffees etc. We want people to come in and hang out. Visit and relax. We have streamlined a few of our procedures but this doesn’t mean we will lack in the taste or experience department! We want people to have a home away from home!
What is the one thing that always surprises people when they taste your treats for the first time?
That they don’t taste like they are vegan and gluten free. I think people have become so accustomed to a sub-standard dessert because that’s all they have available to them. The treats available out there aren’t bad but they’re not really fantastic either. If we want to appeal to everyone then we have to raise the bar! I’ve had friends and customers take our cupcakes and ice cream to parties just to see people’s reaction after they eat one and they tell them they are vegan and gluten free. People are always shocked and often those who are the biggest converts are those that don’t even like sweets. After eating an a la mode cupcake you’re often reaching for another and you find yourself even eating the frosting. Not scraping it off like you usually do!
What are your best sellers?
Chocolate cupcakes with chocolate or vanilla frosting as far as cupcakes go. For ice cream people loved peanut butter ice cream which always surprised me!
What is the craziest thing someone has ever asked you to make?
A chocolate Chai tea ice cream with blueberries mixed in. I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised by this combo!
What is your food guilty pleasure?
I love cookies and cream ice cream or sipping on a coffee and enjoying a slice (or two) of our banana bread. I’m one of those converts that does not have a sweet tooth but I can never turn down a second slice of our banana bread!
With everything you have gone through, what advice would you give someone looking to start their own business?
Be organized and have perseverance! Have everything ready to go and be ready for the days where you are rushed off your feet and others that are mellower! Know that there will always be that one person who wants you to fail but so many others cheering you on. Take pride in what you do, believe in your products and don’t let anyone allow you to lower your standards or change something you strongly believe in. At the end of the day this is your business, if you’re not happy putting your name to it or you don’t fully back your company no one else will.
(All pictures courtesy of A la Mode)