If not for all the construction inside and the Domino’s Pizza signage still lingering above the storefront, you might think Mother Moo Creamery in Kersting Court was already open for business.
That’s because ever since a small sign first went up in the window advertising Sierra Madre’s newest business-to-be, passers-by have stopped in to find out more information, and they’re usually greeted with an open door and, somewhere inside, the cheerful new owner working with contractors to revamp the former pizza joint into an organic ice cream shop, just in time for summer.
“I like to keep the door open,” said Karen Klemens, owner of Mother Moo Creamery, as kids stop with their parents to learn more about the new shop, all the while licking their chops at the thought of the homemade ice cream Klemens tells them is on the way.
While this is her first business to have a physical storefront of its own, Klemens has been producing her own line of jams, jellies and preserves called “Mothercluck!” for years. Currently, Klemens sells those products at the Altadena Urban Farmers Market, Webster’s Stationary in Altadena, and Lindy & Grundy, an organic meat store on Fairfax Avenue in West Hollywood.
For Klemens, the transition from canning to ice cream making came, as with most other things, out of a need to put her foods to work in new ways.
“It was about a year ago and I made this wonderful raspberry jam,” Klemens said. “And I thought, wow, what could I make with this jam other than something for breakfast. And then I thought, wouldn’t it be great with ice cream. And then I thought, wouldn’t it be great to make my own ice cream,” Klemens said with a laugh.
It was then that Klemens had the idea for a full-fledged creamery. So in January she packed her bags and headed to Penn State to take a class on ice cream called “From Cow to Cone.”
But if a college course devoted to ice cream making sounds odd, rest assured this class is no cakewalk. Viewed by many as the Harvard of creamery education, this class counts among its alumni the likes of Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield – know to most simply as Ben & Jerry - who got their start in the business by first taking the course.
As for what sets her store apart from other frozen treat shops, Klemens said it’s all about the process.
“We’ll be making ice cream here on the premises and my base ingredients will all be organic,” Klemens said. “I will also be trying my best to use locally sourced produce. So if there are, say, cherries or peaches, there will be local farmers market additions to those ice creams.”
It’s that sense of being a part of and giving back to the community that Klemens said formed the foundation of what Mother Moo Creamery will stand for once the doors open for business in July.
But there’s a wholly separate side to the Mother Moo business model, advertised in Klemens’ window as “Home Preservation Classes and Workshops.” What that means, as well as how it fits into the idea of an ice cream store, is something that Klemens said has attracted plenty of questions.
“Nobody knows what that means,” she said with a laugh.
But Klemens, who calls herself “Mother Moo” and asks that you do too, told Patch all about the classes she’ll be offering, something covered in Part II of this article, “.”