December’s chilly weather may not immediately prompt cravings for ice cream, but this month has been a busy one for Cloud 10 Creamery. The acclaimed ice cream shop, a venture that unites pastry chef Chris Leung with local entrepreneur Chris Balat and his company Balcor Hospitality, has made a number of changes to position it for future growth.
First, the company has closed its original location in Rice Village, effective immediately. Early next week, Cloud 10 will open a new location in Midtown, replacing Dulce Delights in the Mix at Midtown mixed-use development that also includes Jinya Ramen and French restaurant Artisans.
“Midtown is an evolving neighborhood. When the opportunity was presented to us, not only did we feel honored, we also felt very appreciated because this property has first-rate lineup of really good quality [establishments],” Balat tells CultureMap. “Jinya Ramen is doing amazing things to drive traffic by serving an excellent product.”
Even more potential diners are coming. The property’s landlord has secured a new tenant for the Holley’s space, and, as Balat notes, a new Whole Foods is under construction just down the street.
To replace its presence in the Upper Kirby/Rice Village area, Cloud 10 will open a new location at 3502 S. Shepherd Dr. in early 2019 that, unlike the original location, will have dedicated parking. Together with the shop’s established location in The Heights, Houstonians will have three different places to get their fill of flavors nutella and marshmallow, as well as signature treats like the legendary banana split.
In addition to the new retail outposts, the company has committed to a dedicated ice cream factory — in the Willy Wonka sense of the word — that will support all three retail outlets as well as provide capacity for future growth. All told, Balat says Balcor is investing $2 million to take Cloud 10 to the next level.
“It’s a game-changer,” Leung says about his new kitchen. “Logistically, it helps us out a lot, not having to move product from store to store. Now we have the proper storage capability to bring in more products, to store more finished products, which frees up time to be creative and expand the product line.”
Once the kitchen is up and running, Leung will begin making ice cream cakes that will be available for pickup at all three locations. Other plans include a dog biscuit treat, taste tested and approved by Balat’s Schnauzer, George, as well as an e-commerce site that will allow Cloud 10 to ship its ice cream nationally. Ice cream cookie sandwiches, using fresh-baked cookies, will soon appear at its shops.
Whatever additional products Leung creates, they’ll always be made to the same high standard. The chef makes a difference base for every flavor and goes to great lengths to make them stand out. For example, Cloud would never just use store bought cookies or candy as a mix-in.
“Even our cookies and cream, the way we spun it, instead of using a sweet cream base for the ice cream, we changed it to a brown sugar ice cream,” Leung says. “Then, we made our own version of Oreo cookies, making dark cocoa, making cookies, and our own cream. That’s been really well received.”
Finally, Cloud 10 is investing in its staff by offering health insurance and other benefits. As Balat notes, he and Leung are extremely pleased with their current team members, and they want to attract top talent as they continue to grow.
Ultimately, it’s all about delivering a quality product to customers. With a stable roster of 20 year-round flavors, supplemented with seasonal specials and new treats, Cloud 10 seems poised to grow more than ever before.
“We’re making a product we love, that we can 100-percent stand behind,” Leung says. “The guests love the product. We serve ice cream. It makes people happy.”