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'Gelato Bar' brings cool Italian treat to downtown Perham

Gathering Grounds has brought a taste of Italy to Perham. The store, known for its gourmet coffee, recently opened its new Gelato bar, serving the Italian version of ice cream to customers who would prefer a treat a little cooler for the summer m...

Gathering Grounds has brought a taste of Italy to Perham.

The store, known for its gourmet coffee, recently opened its new Gelato bar, serving the Italian version of ice cream to customers who would prefer a treat a little cooler for the summer months.

Owners, Lynn Johnson and Kari Roberts considered adding gelato to their menu for over a year. The store's coffee supplier was advertising it to its specialty shops as something new to offer customers. The mother-daughter team saw gelato as something Perham didn't have and decided to go ahead with the new bar.

Since its unveiling, the gelato bar has been a big hit. Johnson said that the store gets a mixture of customers who have had gelato before and others who "have no clue."

Johnson admits that she hadn't heard of gelato before their coffee supplier introduced it to her daughter and her. She is always surprised to find out how many people have had it before.

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"I had no idea how many had been to Italy and had it there," Johnson said.

Besides being Italian, what is so different about gelato?

"It's richer, creamier and lower fat," Johnson said. Gelato is made with milk, sugar and other flavorings. Unlike ice cream, it often contains no cream, which often makes gelato a healthier option. Even healthier are the sorbet options, which don't use any diary products.

"The Italians say it's the way ice cream is supposed to taste," said Johnson.

Gathering Grounds' gelato bar offers different flavors, with two to three different sorbets daily.

Among the most popular flavors are coffee and tiramisu. Johnson's advice on picking a flavor was to come in and try them. Gathering grounds offers free spoonful samples to curious customers.

The ingredients are mixed fresh in the store every two days. They come straight from Italy, meaning that the gelato at Gathering Grounds is literally a taste of Italy.

Even the cups the gelato is served in are from Italy.

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Gathering Grounds' gelato may be another ice cream place in town, but Johnson doesn't think the gelato will infringe on the other ice cream places in town. Johnson and her daughter didn't want to take business from the existing shops, and feel that their product is something different from the others.

"I think this is a whole new dessert," said Johnson.

With one of the warmest Junes Minnesota has had in several years, the timing on Gathering Grounds new gelato bar couldn't have been better.

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