Eatery gets a new name, new look and new menu additions By Wendy O. Dixon
When Bill and Heavenly Dawson, owners of five eateries in Seaside, first opened Heavenly Shortcakes & Ice Cream in 1998, the specialty coffee craze had not made its way to the Southeastern U.S. “We had an expensive espresso machine, but we were ahead of our time,” Heavenly Dawson says. “This was before people became accustomed to specialty coffee made so popular by Starbucks.”
So the shop with the supersize triple-scoop ice cream cone in its storefront became famous for its hand-dipped ice cream, fresh pastries and authentic gelato. Now exotic and gourmet coffee aficionados can enjoy the shop’s new coffee bar, the exclusive server of LavAzza Italian coffee. Perfectly roasted with only the best coffee beans from Italy, It’s Heavenly offers brewed and iced coffee, as well as espresso, café latte, mocha, macchiato and cappuccino. If tea is more to your liking, try organic Misty Leaf Tea in African nectar, spring jasmine or detox infusion, among others. The star-shaped homemade brownies and shortcakes made with Heavenly’s recipe, real Italian gelato by G.S. Gelato and hand-dipped Blue Bell ice cream remain on the menu to satisfy the sweet tooth.
In addition to the coffee bar, Cruffins are new to the menu. A creation of Crust Artisan Bakery owner Mark Fressell, the pastry is a combination of a croissant and a muffin, and comes in raspberry, blueberry, peach and strawberry chocolate. Crust, a local family eatery and artisan bakery on U.S. Highway 98, also sells cruffins at the Seaside Farmers Market.
The Dawsons partner with gelato makers Simona Faroni and Guido Tremolini, whom they met in 1997 — “when we barely spoke English, and when no one in this area knew what gelato was,” Faroni says. “Their exceptional vision for successful business enterprises, as well as their tremendous heart in believing in us, was the great preambles of a successful relationship that developed into a glorious friendship throughout the years.”
By the time the delicious gelato and yogurt flavors reach consumers, the executive team has spent months working with hundreds of ingredients to perfect each flavor. Tremolini and Faroni worked with Heavenly Dawson to make the ideal butterfat and custom flavored ice cream with names like Salted Caramel, Orange Crush and Blueberry Cobbler. And the Dawsons made G.S. Gelato the exclusive gelato served at It’s Heavenly.
The idea for the renovation and new name crept up when the Dawsons set out to redo the floor of the shop. “But then we decided to redo the whole shop,” Heavenly Dawson says. After closing for a month, installing new freezers and other equipment, the shop is now reopened, with inviting accordion doors, bright, primary hues, patio cover awnings and an expanded space for the coffee bar.
The cover awnings and additional seating are reminiscent of cafes in Italy, where the sights and scents coming from indoors lure customers to linger a while. “We wanted it to be like those in Italy, where the gelaterias are right by the street,” says Bill Dawson. And the name change to It’s Heavenly was inspired by his wife’s vivacious personality. “Wherever we go, everyone greets us with, ‘It’s Heavenly!’” says Bill, arms spread wide with a joyous grin. “No one ever shouts, ‘It’s Bill!’”
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