On July 6, Little Man Ice Cream opened the doors of its Flagship Ice Cream Factory. Located within Denver’s Sloan’s Lake neighborhood, the Factory is the most recent expansion of their ice cream empire. Starting in 2008, it has now expanded with unique hubs all over the Denver Metro area including Sweet Cooie’s in Congress Park, Old Town Churn Ice in Fort Collins and The Constellation Ice Cream in Stapleton. (A soft-serve spot in Park Hill and a Little Man outpost in DIA are still on the horizon). But even with all this growth, the most recent addition is the largest and most influential opening of the company’s future.
Before the opening of the factory, Little Man famously made all of its ice cream out of a small 800-square-foot Victorian home near its original location. Now the team has upgraded to a 6,000 square-foot space that was designed to be a real-life fantasy. Local architect Theodore (Ted) Schultz drew inspiration from both early 20th century factories — by using copper kettles similar to the former Wheat Ridge Jolly Rancher factory — and items of childhood wonder like merry-go-rounds, carousels and of course, ice cream.
“The space is designed to replicate the internal workings of an industrial ice cream churn, with a number of cylindrical shaped design features,” said Schultz. “They create a spinning effect like the inner-working of an ice cream machine and the unbounded delight that children feel as they spin around with excitement.”
That childlike feeling encompasses the entirety of the factory with touches such as a slide at the very top of the stairs that look over the factory floor – which was hand built by Little Man Ice Cream owner and founder Paul Tamburello and a friend. Additionally, Tamburello and Schultz worked together to create an open space where people can experience the ice cream being made before their very eyes.
“With ‘The Factory,’ we’re giving our guests the opportunity to explore the heart of our operation in a completely interactive way,” said Tamburello. “We’ve combined a number of unique design elements that allow guests to truly experience our process. We can finally open up the curtain and unveil the chef-driven mystery of ice cream making in a thoroughly engaging way.”
Glass panels are the only walls that separate guests from the cool creations which take a chilly trip into the freezers and are then delivered by a conveyor belt system in buckets right to the counter to be scooped and served up. Now with the new larger factory, the team and chef Claire Fields are able to use space to whip up even more ice cream and act as a test kitchen to create new and innovative flavors and test out new seasonal treats. It is also home to an in house bakery where cookies, brownies and other confectionaries are concocted.
Some of these new treats include a Strawberry Surprise shake with Nerds candy and a Blowpop lollipop ($6) and a plated thyme ice cream and buttermilk pannacotta, or you can always go with classic delights such a scoop of salted oreo ice cream or an ice cream sammie. If you aren’t able to delight in the creamy goodness to dairy – no worries, Little Man has you covered with non-dairy flavors such as a vegan salted chocolate oreo and a vegan banana bruleé.
Like its other locations, the Little Man Ice Cream team aims to reflect the neighborhood around them. For the Factory, they plan on working with local artists to incorporate more art and interactive installations. For example, its current entry was created to simulate the inside of a freezer – much like what ice cream sees as it chills to perfection. Additionally, the team decided to forgo parking so visitors have to embrace and explore other ventures that Colfax holds.
“It’s extremely exciting to join this unique community; to share the values of the neighborhood’s past and be a part of its exciting future,” said Tamburello.
The Factory is located at 4411 W. Colfax Avenue, Denver and is open Tuesday-Thursday from 2 -10 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m. -10 p.m. and Sunday: 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.
All Photography by Lauren Magin.