Gia Gelato and Cafe16 Mar 2014, Posted by Spotlights in
Since longtime Village residents Debbie Brackett and Angela Ratliff opened Gia Gelato and Cafe, located at 281 Newark Ave., in March 2013, they’ve been looking for ways to serve up more than sweet treats and coffee.
“Since Gia’s opening, it was discovered that there was an underserved niche in the community,” said Ratliff. “Our customers are diverse. They come from all different types of geographical backgrounds, professions and experiences. Everyone that walks through our doors is given the utmost respect and oftentimes, individualized treatment…We patterned Gia to be a home away from home.”
At the cafe, guests can try 40 rotating flavors of gelato, with everything from summertime favorites like mango and lemon basil to more traditional autumn-inspired blends like maple bacon, marscapone fig and caramel pecan apple.
If you’re not in the mood for something cold, there are pastries as well as nutritious breakfast and lunch items cooked up by chef Jessica Walton. Gia also offers free Wi-Fi, a nonedible but equally important staple for those working away from home.
Gia stands out, however, for not just offering quality eats, but also giving back to the community. The cafe hosts mommy meet-up groups, JC Fridays events, art shows and other events throughout the year.
Ratliff says plans are in the works to also host study groups and family-oriented theme nights where customers of all ages can enjoy board games, comedy and more.
She adds that Gia is committed to helping create jobs in the community and supporting struggling individuals. “A former employee (of ours) was a single mother of two small children who was homeless…(By working at Gia), she was enabled to provide for her family and open her first bank account,” said Ratliff.
“A few of our current employees are working to pay for a college education, including one striving to become a civil servant. Our employees are very proud of their work, and work tirelessly,” she said. “We also plan to hire other overlooked, disadvantaged bright stars…we want to seasonally hire and train high school students (for part-time jobs) to keep them occupied and off the streets and put money in their pockets.”
Overall, Ratliff is excited about the potential of the neighborhood.
“Many of Gia’s customers are new to the area, and over and over they tell us that they moved here because it has a neighborhood feel where people actually care about each other and they are eager to support the local small businesses,” she said, noting that she and Brackett helped create a Merchants Association to help promote other businesses in the area.
“(We want) to continue to work closely with our customers and business associations, provide great services (and) participate in community activities,” said Ratliff. “After all, all communities must work together and support one another in order to survive…The Italian Village is such an example.”
Gia Gelato and Cafe is located at 281 Newark Ave.
For more information, call 201-388-9060 or visit them on Facebook
Village Business Spotlight: For over 100 years, small businesses have played a vital role in shaping the Village. The Village Neighborhood Association is committed to bringing awareness and support to those businesses that embrace the long-standing values and enduring community spirit of our neighborhood.
Photography by Mike McNamara