Ice cream across America is about to get a sweet injection of Azúcar.
Miami’s Azúcar Ice Cream, the ice cream shop on historic Calle Ocho bursting with exotic Latin flavors such as guava and mamey, will open a second location in Dallas in June, owner Suzy Batlle said. Her ice cream also will be sold in a “scoop shop” inside one of Dallas’ high-end, independent grocery store chains, Royal Blue.
It will be the first Azúcar store in a national expansion, Batlle said. She has her sights set on opening a third store in San Diego, where she says the demographics — particularly the Latin population — are similar to Miami and Dallas. The Dallas store at 281 N. Bishop Ave. is slated to open June 15.
“Why couldn’t this be the Cuban Häagen-Dazs? I decided I could do these everywhere,” Batlle said.
Batlle, a former banker for 20 years before opening Azúcar seven years ago, says she was smitten by the Bishop Arts District, a creative enclave that features independent artisans and dining that ranges from Texas barbecue and low-country Southern fare to Vietnamese pho and craft ciders. She regularly traveled to Dallas visiting her mother and twin brother who live there.
“Bishop Arts reminded me of Coconut Grove, and I said to myself, ‘I can’t not do this,’” Batlle said.
She wants Azúcar to add to the colorful, funky Bishop Arts neighborhood, so she’s bringing Azúcar’s Miami look with her. The Dallas shop will have Cuban tiles, a version of the Little Havana ice cream cone statue outside, and a similar mural of Cuban singer Celia Cruz by the Miami artist George Viera.
“We’ll see what he comes up with. I’m excited to see what he has in store,” Batlle said.
And, of course, locals can expect the flavors that made Azúcar an overnight success in Miami, including Abuela Maria (Redland guava and cream cheese), café con leche (Cuban coffee and Oreo), dulce de leche and Mantecado (Cuban vanilla ice cream).
Azúcar caught the attention of Royal Blue Grocery co-owner Zac Porter, whose markets are what he calls “high-end bodegas” with locally made products tailored to each of the eight neighborhoods in which it has stores. He thought Azúcar deserved more than pints in a display case, so it will be scooped fresh for customers, like a mini scoop shop inside their market.
“We sampled her ice cream and thought it was world class,” Royal Blue owner Zac Porter said. “We think it’ll be a hit with local families. Dallas is a lot like Miami in its climate and we thought the neighborhood would love having a scoop shop with cool treats.”
It also introduces Azúcar to a higher-end customer just five miles away. The Highland Park neighborhood is similar to Miami’s Design District, with luxury stores such as Chanel, Hermes and Christian Dior.
Batlle will own all the stores rather than franchise them, she said. So she is focusing on trying to make her new Dallas spot a hit.
“This is just the start of something that could be a lot of fun,” she said. “I feel in Dallas it’s going to be a thunderbolt.”