Although Pasadena seems to have perpetual summer, ice cream shop success is still measured by season. Karen Klemens explains that summer is the number one season for ice cream sales but they serve scoops all year long. In fact, she prefers her ice cream in the winter.
Her first store, Mother Moo, in Sierra Madre has been going strong for five seasons. After a few a major setback in 2011, when a windstorm put them out of business for five days, Mother Moo returned to normal production and has been growing ever since. She recently opened Moo on Mission where Buster’s used to be.
“Ice cream is a universal food and it makes people happy,” she said. One of her favorite parts of the business is watching her customers grow and keeping up with their lives. Klemens explains that ice cream is a family food and many people bring their children and extended family to Mother Moo.
Klemes has always loved the kitchen arts like gardening and baking but decided to make ice cream after taking a course at Penn State. Klemens likes cold ice cream and uses minimal ingredients to achieve a smooth texture. The vanilla ice cream has only six ingredients and each batch is made in their San Marino store.
“The flavors are classic with a bit of fun thrown in,” she said. Their flavors rotate frequently but you can expect flavors like Triple Cream, Thai Tea, Cornflakes, Fresh Peach and Chocolate Chip.
One of their more interesting flavors was Toasted Oak, which is a common flavor in Scandinavia. Klemens uses this as an example of the universality of ice cream and describes the concept as similar to aging wine in oak barrels.
She jokes that sometimes, the best way to enjoy ice cream is in bed while watching a movie. They have plenty of pints on hand for such occasions – the Salty Chocolate or Mint Chip are always favorites.
As part of Mother Moo’s mission statement, Klemens focuses on sourcing local ingredients from small businesses and farmers. Klemens supports Gravenstein Apple Fair in Sebastopol, a farmer dedicated to preserving the Gravenstein apple. This variety of apple has a short shelf life and is in danger of being replaced by more shelf-stable apples. They are one of the only orchards that still cultivate this apple.
“Gravensteins make the perfect apple pie. They’re tart but a little sweet and bake well in a pie – they’re just perfect,” she said.
Mother Moo isn’t just ice cream. They’re also known for their butter crust pies, baked goods, sandwiches, root beer floats and coffee drinks. Klemens plans to add more savory food to the menu so that everyone can find something that strikes their mood. She hopes to create an inclusive family and community space. With special touches like a communal table and outdoor seating, Mother Moo provides a welcoming atmosphere.
“It’s very thoughtful food,” she said.
[Editor’s Note: This story erroneously stated that Mother Moo’s original location was in San Marino. It was not. It was actually in Sierra Madre. The story as been corrected.]