When YUM Desserts first opened in downtown Hillsborough in May 2014, owners Mick and Kate Carroll didn’t realize the many struggles they would endure for their shop. The restaurantreceived negative reviews, with customers complaining about customer service and the gelatos melting too quickly.
The Carrolls decided to close the restaurant temporarily in October 2014, expecting to reopen in one to two months. They reopened at the same location, a small building on Churton Street, this past June.
Initially, the redesigned shop offered only gelatos and sorbets, but customers can now buy crepes. In the future, the Carrolls hope to add baked goods and gelato pops dipped in chocolate to the menu.
Gelato and sorbet flavors include standards like chocolate and vanilla, as well as more unconventional options such as pink grapefruit and French toast. The three crepe flavors currently available are banana Nutella, strawberry banana, and butter and brown sugar.
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The Carrolls moved from San Francisco to Hillsborough in 2010, after having twin boys.
“We didn’t think we were going to stay in Hillsborough,” Kate, 46, said. “We just picked it because it seemed like a good place to move to for the time being, but pretty much as soon as we got to Hillsborough, we realized that it was really the right place for us.”
They both have fond memories of eating ice cream as children.
“I got sick a lot as a kid, and my mom would always take me to Baskin-Robbins in Northgate Mall when I was sick,” Kate said. Mick, 44, remembers eating ice cream from cartons in his father’s lap as a child.
“(Ice cream) was both terrifically special, and also wonderfully comforting and simple,” Kate said. She loves gelato as well. In the United States, ice cream is 10 percent fat while gelato has less fat, making it denser.
When the Carrolls heard that the building next to a restaurant they already owned, Radius Pizzeria and Pub, was for sale, they quickly bought it. “It just seemed like the perfect sister restaurant to Radius,” Kate said. They had originally planned to sell both gelato and pizza in one restaurant, but could not find a building where that would be practical.
After YUM closed, several things caused the renovation process to take longer than expected, Kate explained. She and her husband attended a class at PreGel America, a dessert ingredient company in Concord, where they learned how to correctly run the restaurant.
One major issue was that the machinery they had been using produced gelato that lasted only four hours, so they bought a new processing machine. They also renovated their display case, as it had not been holding products at the correct temperature.
They upgraded the building so it could run the new machinery, but their Duke Power representative died before the upgrades were complete, setting them back further.
Carroll was nearly in a serious accident herself, falling eight feet down a trapdoor in the building one morning and narrowly missing a fireplace with her head. Although she avoided serious injuries, she was bruised and has a scar near her eye. “We’ve cried, we’ve bled (for this),” she said, laughing. “It has been a journey.”
Erika Bales, an attorney who recently opened an office on Churton Street, said she visits YUM a couple of times a month. “All I’ve ever tried is the ice cream, but it’s really great, and I love that they use compostable materials,” she said.
Ellie Perugini, 20, is the Carrolls’ assistant. She said YUM’s initial poor reception “was definitely disappointing, but it’s been very encouraging to see that (the restaurant is) kind of back on its way to being successful.”
Orange High School senior Jace Jordan-Cornell, who has worked at YUM for two years, said: “The new YUM produces a much better product than before. I think the flavors are better and more unique and the consistency is superb.”
“Everyone should at least try it,” he said. “Especially those who came to YUM before we reopened so that they can see how much we have improved since the first time. I think they’ll be impressed. I definitely was.”