Sometimes business inspiration strikes in unexpected places. For Kathy Turek, owner of The Knotted Cone, that lightbulb moment happened on a backpacking trip through Europe.
“I fell in love with this small gelato shop in Rome,” Turek says. “I had never had gelato before, and it was truly a magical moment.”
At the time, she thought making gelato might be a fun hobby or creative outlet. But she soon realized that it was a real business opportunity. “There was nothing like it here at all,” Turek says of Northeast Wisconsin.
She attended the Carpigiani Gelato University in Italy, where she learned everything from how to put a gelato machine together to how to create her own recipes and scratch sauces. With that gelato knowledge, she returned to the area and opened The Knotted Cone, a food truck serving handcrafted gelato and sorbet, in the fall of 2016.
Since that time, catering and events like weddings have been her primary source of business. When the pandemic hit, she knew she needed to change course, so she started an online storefront where customers could place an order for home delivery.
“We drove the truck through people’s neighborhoods, dropped off their order, rang the doorbell, and headed back out,” Turek says, adding that the pivot ended up being positive for her business. “We were able to reach a whole different market.”
As she looks to the future, Turek says the business has some holiday sales and gifts like variety boxes that include five scoops of seasonal flavors. The Knotted Cone’s Facebook page, Instagram page and website are the best places to stay up to date about its sales, new flavors and other announcements.
Beyond that, Turek says she’s thought about opening a storefront but hasn’t committed to the idea yet, especially since it’s a totally different business model from her existing food truck and catering-focused one.
“Down the line, no matter what the next turn is, it’s going to be a gelato experience,” she says. “It’s not just an average scoop of ice cream. That’s what I fell in love with and it’s the experience that makes it. No matter the goal, it’s always going
to be that.”