In Australia, ‘gelato’ is synonymous with ‘Messina’. In Sydney alone, there are 11 stores scooping out all kinds of delicious flavours to customers – many of whom happily wait in lines wrapped around the block. The phrase, ‘let’s get Messina’, sparks smiles across the city, and loyal (to the point of obsessive) fans keep a close eye on social media to hear about the specials for the week.
Gelato Messina needs no introduction – but what about the guy who made it happen?
Meet Nick Palumbo, the creative mastermind behind Messina.
With a Sicilian background (fun fact: Messina is the name of the town his parents immigrated from), Nick quickly became an expert in the art of traditional gelato-making. The trick? Using real ingredients to create full-bodied texture and flavour. That, combined with his creative drive, inspired him to open up a gelato store of his own.
In 2002, he launched the business with a single store in Darlinghurst, which sold 20 types of gelato. Fast-forward to now, and there are stores all over the country – and even one in Las Vegas – and the company has invented hundreds of flavours.
Sitchu chatted to Nick about where it all started, and why going back to basics was the key to success.
Q&A with Nick Palumbo
How did the idea for Gelato Messina come about?
I saw a gap in the market when I moved to Sydney (Editor’s note: he was raised in Adelaide), and that’s when I founded Gelato Messina. The aim was to create quality, artisan gelato in the authentic way that it’s made in Sicily.
Why did you choose to set up shop in certain Sydney locations, such as Darlinghurst, Bondi and Rosebery?
We started in Darlinghurst in 2002 and this has always been our hub. Our original store is still there, and we have the Creative Department next door where we run 7-course degustations with paired concoctions.
When we started to expand, we wanted to first open in inner-city areas to create a gelato hangout for the locals - somewhere you could go after lunch, all the way up until a late night gelato stroll.
Our Rosebery HQ has only been around for the past year or so. This is where our production factory, store and head office is, all in one warehouse. It’s great to be able to have a production in full sight of our store customers – they can see gelato being churned, additions being added, and cakes being made right before their eyes.
What advice do you have for business owners hoping to open up a store in Sydney?
Quality is everything. If you haven’t perfected your product and service, your business won’t be sustainable.
You’re a Darling Point resident, which is in the heart of the Eastern Suburbs. Where do you like to go to eat and drink in the area?
Archie Rose, A Tavola and Muum Maam are my top spots.
Lastly – and most importantly – what's your favourite gelato flavour?
For more information about Gelato Messina, head to the website or Instagram– but be warned: the daily specials popping up in your feed will prompt a visit to the nearest store. To find out where that is, click here. Save us a scoop!