Photos by Gemelli Dessert Café.
On Market Street you can find a teal-colored storefront that houses Gemelli Artisanal Gelato & Dessert Café. One visit to Gemelli Dessert Café, and you will be mesmerized by the array of gelato flavors and gelato-themed desserts and drinks. The café also features a La Colombe-branded coffee bar with drinks ranging from espresso macchiatos to iced lattes. The streets of the borough may look different now due to the lingering pandemic, but Gemelli Dessert Café continues to serve their usual quality handcrafted delicacies.
Vincenzo and Julianne Tettamanti, owners of the dessert café, met in Milano, Italy back in 2008 when Julianne was studying abroad. A year later, Vincenzo relocated to the United States while Julianne was finishing college in Philadelphia. From there, the light shined brighter for Vincenzo and Julianne; Gemelli Artisanal Gelato & Dessert Café opened its doors in 2014. “We wanted to bring a true piece of Italy to West Chester, and I wanted to share my favorite desserts growing up with the local community,” said Tettamanti. The couple now has a one-year-old son, Matteo, who loves sampling all of the new flavors at the gelateria. “At Gemelli, we handcraft, completely from scratch, modern desserts and gelato flavor combinations with a refined and truly artisanal approach.” Tettamanti and his team strive for uniqueness, quality and traditions that are rare in the area.
“Happiness through farm-fresh gelato and handcrafted high-quality desserts” is the mission statement at Gemelli Dessert Café. When asked if the café’s mission statement had to be altered or adapted once the pandemic began to take its toll, Tettamanti ensured they only worked harder, highlighting their promise to make sure their customers could experience some sort of normalcy once again. As Tettamanti put it, “We can’t really travel much, so we bring Italy to West Chester without the need to fly!”
As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posted guidelines for small businesses, along with Chester County’s regulations, store owners had to morph into rapid innovators. Tettamanti’s entire family resides in Italy, and since Italy was hit with COVID-19 prior to the U.S., he was able to gain insight on how Italian businesses were adjusting: “I started developing a plan for Gemelli probably three to four weeks ahead of most other local businesses,” said the gelateria owner. The café initiated a delivery service and stopped scooping gelato from the case as a sanitary measure.
Even when dining rooms were granted approval to reopen with social distancing practices in mid-July, Tettamanti chose to reopen on Oct. 1. Between March and May, Gemelli’s only provided delivery. Gradually, the café transitioned to curbside pickup and slowly went back to scooping. “The safety of both our staff and customers was too important; that is why we took all necessary precautions to ensure the safest experience,” stated Tettamanti. As of today, Gemelli Dessert Café is open indoors with safely-distanced tables. Since the gelateria consists of a large space, it was easy to do so. The café staff regularly sanitizes all tables and equipment to make for a safe environment; the kitchen is wiped down constantly and is adorned with UVC lights. Tettamanti also shared that Plexiglas barriers were installed to protect both café staff and customers.
Gemelli mostly employs college students, many of whom moved back to their hometowns once WCU closed its doors. Fortunately, Tettamanti mentioned, he was able to hire many of his staff back as soon as it was safe to do so; whoever was able to return, did.
The Tettamantis had to generate even greater culinary innovations during the early brunt of the pandemic. The café’s menu was paused for a bit as the shop began to sell prepackaged gelato pints via delivery while also taking custom orders for gelato cakes, cannoli and tiramisu. To spice up their customer’s quarantine, Gemelli offered a “Sundae Kit” and a “Cannoli Kit,” fully-compact boxes of goodies for families to whip up their favorite sweets.
Now, Gemelli Dessert Café is offering their full menu. The Tettamanti family is grateful for the local community and customer support during these trying times. “I truly hope we were able to bring a bit of sweetness and normalcy back into their lives. It’s not just hard on businesses, but rather everybody in our community and our country,” said Tettamanti, “I’m letting you all know we’ll be here for all your sweet needs daily, as we move toward the fall and winter.”
Gemelli Artisanal Dessert Café is open 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week. See their menu and other offerings here.
Madison Starinieri is a fourth Year English Writings BSEd & Special Ed major. MS882527@wcupa.edu