by Lorie Lewis Ham
Nothing sounds better than some great ice cream on a hot Valley summer day! I recently learned about a very special ice cream food truck based out of Fresno called Jay’s Specialty Ice Cream! The owner is a Fresno State graduate named Janel Haas. Recently, we chatted with Janel to learn more about the truck and how it came to be.
KRL: How did you get the idea for Jay’s Specialty Ice Cream?
Janel: My business started out as a project my senior year at Fresno State. We had to create a business plan for a business we would be interested in opening. My family always made homemade ice cream for holidays and get-togethers, so I thought it would be a fun idea to work with. Once I had done all the research and planning I realized that I could make this business into a reality.
KRL: Do you have a background in the food industry?
KRL: Why did you decide to do it as a food truck as opposed to a brick and mortar location?
Janel: When I started looking for a place to open my business I realized that I would be in the hole $65,000 before even opening my doors with all the renovation, equipment and labor cost for employees. Also, as a new ice cream business trying to compete with Baskin Robins and Cold Stones it would be difficult as I wouldn’t have as big of a following if I was only in one stationary location. I also liked the idea of being able to go where the people were. I got lucky and food trucks were starting to become very popular in Fresno right when I opened my business.
KRL: When did your business first open?
Janel: I opened in October of 2013.
KRL: What is different and special about your ice cream?
Janel: All my ice cream is made by me! I also have unique flavors that you might not have seen before either at another ice cream place or the grocery store. I also make some flavors that contain alcohol.
KRL: Where is the ice cream made?
Janel: I have a manufacturing location on Alluvial and Ingram in Fresno.
KRL: What do you like best about making ice cream?
Janel: The possible flavor combinations are endless. I like being able to create new flavors and keep people guessing what we will have each week and when a new flavor might pop up.
KRL: What is your favorite flavor?
Janel: My favorite flavor is Pistachio Almond, but it was my favorite until I started making ice cream.
KRL: How many flavors do you carry and does it change often?
Janel: At an event there are 8 flavors at a time. The flavors typically change each time we go out to an event. There are some instances when I make a specific flavor, like Ba-Nilla-Fer for example and it is sold out by the time the weekend is over.
KRL: I understand you have expanded to a trailer and push cart-when did that happen and why did you decide to add those?
Janel: I got the trailer in 2015. I was getting so many calls for events and catering jobs that I was having to turn them down. So I decided that I wanted to be in 2 places at once. Also by getting the trailer it allowed me to do events that were further away. The truck is good for events that are no more than 30 minutes from Fresno. With the trailer I have been to Merced, Lodi, Bass Lake, Corcoran and many other places. I got the push cart in 2020. It was mainly to do the Premier Bridal Show and indoor wedding venues.
KRL: Where can people find you online?
KRL: How can people find your ice cream?
Janel: One of our regular stops is on Thursday from 1-3:30, Downtown Fresno parked on M St. near the Fresno Superior Courthouse. Gazebo Gardens is also another spot that we attend regularly on Friday and Saturday from 5-9. The schedule of what events we attend for the week can also be found on the website or social media pages.
KRL: Future goals?
Janel: I would like to add one more truck to my fleet of vehicles. But the next big project is to find a spot for a brick and motor.
KRL: Anything you would like to add?
Janel: When I started this as a project at Fresno State my professor told me that this would not work, “no one will follow you around in a mom van to get ice cream.” He basically told me I couldn’t do it and my business would fail which made me want to open it even more and prove him wrong. I graduated from Fresno State in 2012 and only a year later I opened my business. I am also very thankful that I survived the pandemic and was able to keep my business going strong. It has been very difficult to find certain ingredients that I like to use for my ice cream, but I have been doing my best to keep a good rotation of the flavors that I am able to create.