Ample Hills Creamery – Production and Retail Location Case Study
133 Beard Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231
In the peak of the summer selling season last year ice cream entrepreneur Brian Smith had a big problem. The CEO of Disney had already phoned him and invited him to open a retail shop at Disney World, and now Oprah had just named Ample Hills ice cream one of her “Favorite Things.”
Ample Hills Keeps its Brooklyn Roots
Suddenly, the young brand was a national sensation and lines wrapped around its retail locations day and night. The production capacity at Brian’s Gowanus location, which he opened only a year earlier, was too small to handle the increased demand. As much as Brian and his wife Jacqui loved working and living in Brooklyn, real estate prices had shot up over the previous four years, and large food manufacturing space was uncommon in the Borough. They began looking at sites near some farms in the Catskills, where Ample Hills sources a lot of its raw materials.
When Brian reached out to us he made it very clear he didn’t want to pay going rates for production and retail space, and that he already had a compelling proposal from an upstate landlord. We understand his business, as we had worked with him on the leasing of his Gowanus production facility, and so we told him not to sign anything until we had a chance to find him the perfect space in Brooklyn. When we surveyed the market for 12,000 to 15,000 SF of manufacturing space, we found raw space in the mid-high $30s per square foot, well out of his range.
Most landlords were familiar with Ample Hills, but the market was hot, and millions of square feet of M-zoned property was getting converted to office and hotel use throughout the borough. Working within a short window, we put a call into Greg O’Connell at The O’Connell Organization, which owns several historic commercial sites in Red Hook. Within a week after touring a spectacular off-market site along the waterfront, we had a sit-down meeting with Greg, and shook hands on business terms that would keep Ample Hills in Brooklyn at very favorable pricing.
We knew our best chance to find a large production facility that could also be used as retail space at a reasonable price was to find a landlord who loved the company’s ice cream and understood its broader value proposition.