Taking a 5-second pause before speaking, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream CEO John Lowe opened up for the first time about the massive recall that cost his company millions.
“If we can’t answer why there’s one pint that’s, um, reportedly got listeria in it, then we can’t open the store.”
In one statement, Lowe transported a room full of budding entrepreneurs to the decision table where his company choose to recall all ice cream, frozen yogurt, and sorbet, dump 265 tons of product and temporarily shut down its scoop shops.
“As we looked at each other around the table with very foggy info…but, but enough facts that we thought that just we can’t open the store,” Lowe said.
Even during the start of the spring season, customers are locked out.
“People get really attached to their ice cream shops and this one is a very special one because their flavors are so great,” said Joni Libertin, who traveled to the area from North Canton.
She checked out the locked door to Jeni’s High Street location, where Jeni’s customers expressed their grief in a creative way.
“I’ve never seen that when a store closes,” Columbus resident Marc Goldner stated as he looked at dozens of notes posted to the door.
They are love notes to favorite ice cream flavors like pistachio honey, even a note of encouragement from another business.
“(There are) a hundred notes just saying we miss you, come back,” Goldner said.
Coming back–a feat the leadership at Jeni’s is still trying to work out out after the recall.
“We’re not sure what it’s gonna cost, we’re not sure how we’re going to fund it and we’re not sure of what it leads to in terms of how long we’ll be closed in the like,” Lowe said.
But one thing’s for certain–when they re-open there, a loyal base of customers will return.