When arson affected one of Felix Irnich’s construction projects, he took that as a sign that he should try working in a different industry.
Longing for the Italian-style gelato he was familiar with from his hometown near Cologne, Germany, Irnich decided to make his own. In 2015, he opened DaVinci Gelato — a small gelato kitchen and food truck that served customers at the St. Albert Farmers’ Market. The gelato was a hit with customers, so he approached born-in-Edmonton chain, Famoso, about a partnership. Before the brand was even a year old, DaVinci Gelato had national distribution in all of Famoso’s restaurants.
In 2019, Irnich started the first ice cream distillery in the world: A spinoff brand called Happy Hour Alcohol Gelato, which produced five per cent ABV gelato using alcohol from yet another new project, T-Rex Distillery. Thanks to national media attention, the company was met with huge demand.
That demand has not slowed down despite the pandemic: The company had a record sales month in July.
“When you pour your heart and soul into something and get such a positive response, it’s an indescribable feeling,” Irnich says.