Just dandy at Dandy’s

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Ice cream to scream for. Courtesy of Dandy's

We all scream for ice cream.

Last week I had the privilege of stopping by Dandy’s to talk to ice cream wizard, genius behind the counter, and absolute sweetheart Daniela Mintenko. She first opened Dandy’s in February this year and I wanted to get the scoop (pun intended) on how this gem has been faring since.

Mintenko is from Columbia, where ice cream ranks high on the list of everyone’s favourite treats. After attending school for fashion and business in Vancouver, she realized she wanted a similar creative outlet without the constraints and routine of that career and took an Ice Cream 101 class at Penn State, learning basics like how to churn and mix. She extended her education further at the North West Culinary Academy, mastering the ins and outs of both fine dining and pastry making. Mintenko combines all three areas of expertise in Dandy’s; the place is truly a testament to her dedication.

You go to Dandy’s for the authentic artisanal experience, and you stay because of the warm welcomes and beautiful décor. It’s not uncommon to find every seat in the place filled, so they recently added a patio (equipped with beautiful strings of lights) to the front of their shop for additional seating and ambiance. Mintenko used her background in fashion when designing the shop, aiming for something clean and modern, yet rustic. The shop is a wonderful mix of wood furniture and mellow lighting mixed with pops of colour in the forms of plants and backlights. Another recent addition to their business is a transportable cart able to cater weddings, parties, shows, and just about any other event you’d like.

The ice creams themselves are all made in-store, so you know you’re getting the best quality possible with every visit. Mintenko mentioned several times how grateful she is for the community she’s found in Regina as she has the freedom to incorporate local products and flavours in her creations. Collaborating with other local talents is a great way to avoid a competitive culture in the culinary field. “You always find something interesting,” she mentioned in the interview with a giggle. These collaborations contribute to the unique seasonal flavours featured at Dandy’s as well as their staple menu items.

A pescatarian herself, Mintenko understands the importance of having a variety of options to accommodate dietary restrictions. While you’ll find many flavours made with their creamy dairy base, they also have a wide variety of vegan options and nothing shy of a dozen gluten-free flavours so every one of your friends and family can find something that fits within their needs. “Always looking for something new,” was another phrase dropped often by Mintenko while highlighting her seasonals. These seasonal creations are switched out every month and once they’re gone, they might be gone for good. I had the chance to try their Goat Cheese and Fig seasonal blend and was amazed by the complexity of the flavor. It has the richness of their dairy base, the savoury creaminess of the chèvre sourced through Red Barn Dairy, and the deep sweetness of high quality figs all mixed to perfection so there’s a touch of each flavour in every bite. You can order their creations in cups or waffle cones, make your own custom sundae or milkshake, and the majority of flavours are available to buy in pints at the counter if you’d rather enjoy the handcrafted masterpieces in the comfort of your own home. Mintenko has a vision to sell her pints in grocery stores in the very near future so keep your eyes on those freezer shelves to support this local business instead of just funding some CEO’s sixth vacation house with your purchase.

Any small business owner knows that staff can make or break your business, and that it’s often the treatment of the staff that most impacts their performance. This first summer season has gone so well for Mintenko that she’s had up to 24 employees during the busiest seasons, many being students, with a large chunk being members of the LGBTQ+ community.

“I embrace everyone however they are,”  she commented, “I feel like everyone can be themselves here.” That welcoming atmosphere is apparent as soon as you walk through the doors – you’re always greeted with a genuine smile by staff who know the products and want to help however they’re able.

With summer on the way out the door I was curious how business has been fairing, but Mintenko assured me they’re still as busy as ever. They’re open until 10 p.m. every day to accommodate a variety of schedules, and the indoor seating helps ensure the cold weather doesn’t deter customers. While similar shops experience waves depending on the season, Dandy’s has been positively booming since they opened their doors seven months ago and it’s not looking like that good fortune will slow anytime soon.

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