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When Larry and Anna Marie “Gigi” Mishkin moved to Punta Gorda three years ago, they found a Chinese restaurant and pizzeria they liked. But they couldn’t find an adequate ice cream shop. 

The couple started one of their own. 

GiGi’s Ice Cream shop opened in January at 311 W. Marion Ave. in downtown Punta Gorda, and since has built a strong local following, Gigi Mishkin said.

Expansion plans are in the works for later this year. By December, the Mishkins plan to add a line of coffee, espresso and cappuccinos, plus a wall of candy.

“We’ll be able to serve a shot of espresso on top of ice cream,” Larry Mishkin said. 

The shop employs 11 staff members and serves 32 flavors of fresh, homemade and hard-packed ice cream out of 3-gallon containers, which can be made every 18 minutes. They also sell soft-serve ice cream and gelato. 

They took what had been a 2,200-squarefoot convenience store and converted it. 

“We wanted this place to be like an experience,” Gigi Mishkin said. “We want people to come in here and have fun. You know, sit down, have their ice cream, no rush. We’re never going to kick you out. Just a fun vibe for people to come in here and have a good timeand of course eat delicious ice cream.” 

The couple moved to Punta Gorda from New Jersey. Larry Mishkin grew up on Long Island, New York, enjoying Carvel soft-serve ice cream. He wanted to create his own variation of it. 

In developing GiGi’s Ice Cream, he found a fresh dairy mix made in Sarasota that has cream, sugar and 14% milk fat, for what he calls a “premium mix.” 

GiGi's Ice Cream shop in Punta Gorda“It’s more expensive for us, but it tastes much better for you,” Larry Mishkin said. 

The ice cream is made in the store. 

“It’s premium ice cream that we’ve made from a premium mix and a premium churn,” Larry Mishkin said. 

Premium churn means making it in the machine. After about 10 minutes of mixing, Mishkin puts flavors, such as chocolate syrup and chocolate chips, into the mix himself. Then he places the container in the freezer, where it hardens until ready to be sold. 

“So now I’ve got an ice cream that I can enjoy in Punta Gorda,” Mishkin said. “You can taste the difference when you use a real dairy mix as opposed to the stuff that you’re buying at the supermarket.” 

Larry Mishkin does more than own the ice cream shop. He also works as a national sales manager for Origin, a packaging company. And he has formulated his own brand of organic bug spray, Larry’s Bug Away, which he sells in the ice cream shop. 

But GiGi’s has become his pride and joy.

“We hired the nicest kids we could find,” he said. “They’re all super sweet, hard-working kids who treat everyone right. We’ve had a lot of people come out and support us. This town has just been fantastic with their support of us.

“It warms our hearts, because we put so much love into making this ice cream, so that when somebody tells us that they like it, it hits us right here.” 

Copyright 2024 Gulfshore Life Media, LLC All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without prior written consent.

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