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By Keaton Larson
This summer, a new addition to the candy bar scene in San Clemente is serving up classic, fresh ice cream.
Handel’s homemade ice cream on Camino de los Mares opened in June, and the store has seen long lines and full faces so far. The scoop shop offers everything from traditional cones and bowls of ice cream to sundaes, banana splits, ice cream sandwiches, milkshakes and floats.
“Graham Central Station”, a mix of graham cracker ice cream, graham cracker ripple and chocolate covered honeycomb, is one of its most popular flavors. “Oree dough,” a combination of Oreo and cookie dough, mint chocolate chips, and chocolate peanut butter brownie are other popular items.
It also serves several vegan ice creams, including a rotating fruit flavor and a chocolate Oree paste made with coconut milk. It also plans seasonal flavors for the upcoming fall and winter seasons, says director Noe Pinedo, including pumpkin pie, pumpkin cheesecake and peppermint.
Each flavor is made in-house by ice cream makers, and each day the staff can produce up to 30-40 buckets of ice cream. This process and the quality of the ice cream were among the reasons Keith and Shirlyn Kesler, California natives and longtime residents of Laguna Beach, wanted to open Handel’s Homemade Ice Cream Shop.
This opening isn’t their first foray into ice cream, however. The San Clemente location is Keith and Shirlyn’s ninth location in Southern California, the first being in Laguna Niguel, with two others in Orange County and four in San Diego.
“My oldest son lives in San Clemente, just off North Beach,” Keith said, noting his excitement at having a location in San Clemente, a town that has been one of his regular stops for years.
Keith worked in an advertising agency for many years before teaching at California State University, Fullerton as an advertising professor. His experience in the marketing world helped him and his fellow business partners choose an ice cream shop to run with.
One day, Keith’s brother-in-law tasted some Handel ice cream that a family member had brought from Rancho Cucamonga, and he urged Keith to try it himself. A few months later, they filed their franchise application.
“The way people talk about In-N-Out in Southern California is the way people talk about Handel,” Keith said. “People love it. And I saw that at Handel’s, because we do that every day in every store. And that makes all the difference.
Keith recognized the special love customers had for ice cream and the excitement that came with the Handel’s brand. No amount of money can buy you customer loyalty for this ice cream, Keith said.
“The great thing about working in an ice cream shop is that it’s not a hard sell,” said Pinedo, a friend of the Kesler family who recently served as general manager of the Rancho site. Santa Margarita. “Everyone is already happy. We had a very warm welcome from everyone here.
Pinedo loves managing the San Clemente site. He said it was hard to find negatives in running the store. He can see many regular faces and share the joy customers feel when they order a scoop of their favorite flavor.
The venue will open on September 1. Keith is excited to plan a fun day for the community with gifts and music from the San Clemente High School band.
Keith hopes to create a place where families and neighbors can come and spend time away from the cares of the world.
“If you come to Handel’s and spend half an hour there, it’s like a half hour vacation,” he said.
Handel’s homemade ice cream
610 Camino de los Mares, San Clemente
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