In Newcastle Upon Tyne during the early 1960’s, Elena Ciccarelli worked for a reputable ice cream supplier, owned by local Italian family, the Rea’s. Not only did Elena make ice cream in their factory but would also work in the family’s café too. During this time, she met Donato Gregorio, who worked on a travelling shop supplying Italian families throughout the region with essential items like olive oil and pasta!
By the mid 1960’s the couple were happily married, and it would be Elena’s background in ice cream and her persuasive nature which would lay the foundations for the family business. Donato had been laying foundations of his own kind whilst working for a local building company when in 1966 Elena persuaded him to buy an ice cream van instead of a car. The ice cream van was actually the first vehicle Donato owned after passing his test!! And so, the Ciccarelli story began…
1966 proved to be a rather significant year for our family as Elena gave birth to her and Donato’s first children, twin boys; Antonio and Michele. Initially, Donato continued to work during the week for the local building contractor and went out in his ice cream van on weekends. He soon realised that Elena was right all along, and his destiny lay in ice cream, so he left his building job to become a full-time ice cream man.
In 1970, a third son; Gino was born and was followed two years later by another set of twin boys; Domenico and Franco. Donato acquired another ice cream van and became an established and well-liked ice cream man within the Newcastle area. It was not too long before his sons were showing interest in the family business by helping their father out after they finished school, often until the early hours of the morning!
By the mid 1990’s we had a fleet of ice cream vans covering Newcastle, Tyneside and Northumberland including parks and coastal locations. It was also around this time that we began to make our own ice cream at our Newcastle-based factory which helped to distinguish ourselves from other operators in the area.
In 1996 Donato passed away and the business was taken over by his sons. By the time the millennium arrived, our fleet of ice cream vans had increased in numbers and we had become one of the biggest event operators in the UK, covering many of the largest musical and sporting shows throughout England and Scotland. During this period, we represented famous names in the industry including Nestle and Walls.
2001 saw the opening of our first ice cream parlour, the Serena Café at South Beach, Blyth, adjoined to our very own Fish and Chip restaurant, Coastline. During one of our recent renovations we decided to rename the parlour after our mother’s maiden name; Ciccarelli. This coincided with a rebranding of our Ice Cream Van fleet to include the Ciccarelli name.
In the mid noughties we moved from our Newcastle base to a larger factory in Cramlington, Northumberland. The additional space has not only proven invaluable for housing our ever-growing fleet of ice cream vans but has also enabled us to expand our Gelato production process. We are now the largest ice cream wholesale supplier in the region, having developed our very own brand of Italian style Gelato. We now offer over 40 flavours including vegan gelato and a selection of sorbet.
In 2020 we decided to make it even easier for our customers to buy our award-winning Gelato by launching a brand-new website, incorporating an online shop. We are now one of the few Ice Cream operators in the UK which covers everything from event catering to wholesale supply in addition to having parlours and an online shop.