Royal Copenhagen ice-creamery franchise owner and manager, George Karamalis, took over his father’s ice-cream shop in 2006 and hasn’t looked back.
“In 1993 my dad bought the Glenelg Royal Copenhagen franchise and I’ve been managing it ever since,” he said. After buying the Glenelg franchise from his father in 2006 he opened a second franchise in Adelaide’s Henley beach in late 2009.
The Henley beach store, though branded Royal Copenhagen ice-cream, is also a licensed dessert bar offering wine, crepes, fondues, waffles and coffee. “This was just a new concept of mine and I’ve incorporated it in the brand, I have the South Australian rights to that concept,” Karamalis said. “We designed the whole menu. As far as Copenhagen is concerned we only really pay royalties for the name, we pretty much brand everything ourselves, it’s all our own concept”.
The possibility of taking the concept to national heights is definitely on the cards, Karamalis said. “We’d like to take it nationally but it’s still quite new to us, we’re still seeing if the concept works but it has proven such a success. So maybe in the years to come we’ll definitely be looking at expanding,” he said.
The two shops offer different services with location contributing 50 percent to the business, Karamalis said. “Our Glenelg store is walk in, walk out; the customer contact at Glenelg is 30 seconds whereas at Henley Beach we have table service, a fire place, we light candles on the tables at night, we have good music, it’s a really good atmosphere, a really good bar, and definitely more of a location to come down, sit down, and have a glass of wine with dessert,” he said.
While the Glenelg store works on an 80 percent summer trade, 20 percent winter trade formula, the Henley beach store has weathered both the proverbial and literal storms, Karamalis said. “The reason for me bringing in and introducing a dessert line, seating area and table service was to bring in a winter trade. We’ve been open now for ten months now but we find that our winter trade is just as successful as our summer trade, it’s a really good concept because you’ve got both seasons,” he said.
Karamalis said he grew up in family owned cafes and restaurants and while his father is now retired he will continue to carry on the tradition. “I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else to be honest…I’ve grown up eating ice creams and desserts; sweets are my forte,” he said.
Karamalis has also targeted Adelaide’s cyber generation with a Face Book page for his business. “It works really well, but it’s something that the younger generation really sort of acknowledge not really the older generation, and you need to be on it all the time and you need to update it all the time. For free advertising it’s perfect,” he said.
With about 30 staff members at both stores, Karamalis employs lots of juniors and trains them on the job. “The training is a week long on the job, you don’t have to have hospitality skills, it’s all about personality really,” he said.
Karamalis is also a patron of the arts, with an arts corridor at his Henley beach store exhibiting works from local artists. “We support the local artists, we don’t take anything from them, a lot of cafes or restaurants will take a percent from the local artist in selling their artwork, but for me it’s just about helping and promoting local artists,” he said.