ASHWAUBENON (NBC 26) — For Sara Santaga, gelato basically runs in the blood.
“My grandpa‘s an immigrant from Italy," she said. "So growing up, I was able to visit Italy, and honestly, anybody that goes there falls in love with gelato, and that was definitely me.“
After going to culinary school and spending a month at Gelato University near Bologna in Italy, she opened Sara’s Artisan Gelato in Ashwaubenon. Every flavor is homemade, from classics like pistachio and stracciatella to crowd favorites like cookie dough and cookies and cream, using local dairy, of course.
“The essence of gelato is to make it using as much from scratch as possible and put love into it," said Santaga.
After being open for barely one year, Santaga had to shut down the shop, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For months after, she could only offer curbside pick-up.
“It was interesting adapting," she recalled. "What we normally do here is people come in and they eat gelato, and it’s kind of a gathering atmosphere.“
Worried as she was, the only thing she could do was just hang in there, said Santaga.
“I feel like that was kind of the main motto of the year," she said. "It’s just hang in there and try to figure it out, and we did the best we could. I was thinking, I might not make it, nobody’s going to remember I’m here, that sort of thing. And from the second I opened pint orders and curbside pick-up, I saw a huge rush, and people leaving messages in the order notes like, 'hang in there,' and 'we’re trying to support you,' and it was just it was really overwhelming in the best way.“
And she’s glad she did hang in there; just a couple weeks ago, Santaga opened her second storefront in Fish Creek.
“It just kind of fell in my lap, and it was a really good opportunity," she said. "I actually was a line cook at the Whistling Swan, which is the same building it was in, so it was kind of like full circle.“
Sara’s Artisan Gelato is currently open five days a week at the Ashwaubenon location, located at 933 Anderson Drive, Tuesday through Thursday from noon to 8 p.m. and Friday and Saturday they close at 9 p.m. The Fish Creek shop, located at 4192 Main Street, will be open seven days a week starting this Thursday.