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Rolled ice cream trend hits Gainesville
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Lissette Martinez prepares an ice cream treat Monday, June 4, 2018 at Roll's Oh-La-La opening soon at 125 John Morrow Parkway. Martinez pours the ingredients onto the ice-cold metal surface and chops, mushes and prods it while adding flavors, fruits or candies and then spreads it out thin across the cold surface before rolling it up. - photo by Scott Rogers

Francisco Martinez and Iris Broche said they have always wanted to open a family business. 

After working as pastors at Hermanos de Cristo, a church in Havana, Cuba, they said they wanted to continue to serve people and build a community around something everybody loves.

Roll’s OH-La-La

Where: 125 John W. Morrow Jr Parkway, Suite 210. Gainesville

Opens: Later this month

When: 12:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday; 12:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday

More info: www.rollsohlala.com

Contact: 678-873-3248

Just across the street from Planet Fitness, at 125 John W. Morrow Jr. Parkway in Gainesville, their daughter, Lissette Martinez, saw a “For Rent” sign. Now, about a year-and-a-half later, the family plans to open Roll’s OH-La-La, an artisan rolled ice cream shop, by the end of the month.

“We were looking for a place that was in a good location, in the center of everything with big windows,” Lissette said through her sister, Lylibet Najera, who acted as a translator for the family. “This place just came up and was perfect. When we talked to the guy who owns the whole center, he had other people that were looking at the place, but the idea he liked the most was ours.”

The rolled ice cream starts with a frost top, which is basically a cold table top with shallow sides. Once the frost top is at the right temperature, the ingredients for the ice cream are added. 

There are plenty of options, like “Cookies & Cream;” “Off Duty;” a mixture of espresso and doughnuts, and “Sweet Monkey,” which is a mix of banana, Nutella and grated almonds.

The ingredients are worked into the ice cream, which is then spread into a thin layer on the frost top. Lastly, the ice cream is scraped flat and rolled, placed in a cup and topped with the customer’s favorite toppings. 

“This type of ice cream is very personalized, and you make it how people want it,” Broche said.

Francisco’s brother owned an ice cream shop for 20 years in Cuba, so the business seemed a perfect fit.

Najera was the first of the family to come to the United States from Cuba, though. She was living with family in Miami for a few months, but said she really wanted to learn English and felt she needed to get out of Miami to do that. She said most people there spoke Spanish, just like she did.

She visited friends in Georgia, moved to Cumming, and her sister and her sister’s husband followed a few years after. But their parents came just three years ago.

“All of this has been a challenge because they don’t speak English well enough,” Najera said. “But with the help of the whole family, it’s great.”

From the time Lissette saw the open space and the family was able to officially rent it, they’ve been working hard to build it exactly to their liking. 

Francisco has done a lot of the work himself. He built out the whole kitchen, put up walls and laid the floor.

The place is decorated with bright colors and shapes like blue, red and green spirals on the wall near the front doors and red chairs with white tables. There’s an area with a couch and chairs to help create the sense of community they have envisioned. The’ve added a children’s area as well, so guests know everyone is welcome.

Decorations also include photos of their children — Najera’s daughter and Lissette’s sons. It’s a constant reminder of family.

“It’s really, really important for us to be really family-oriented and for everyone who comes here to feel like home,” Broche said.

And as they get ready to open, they said they already have big plans for the future. They want to expand as much as possible and take Roll’s OH-La-La all over the country and even outside the U.S.

“It’s a new chapter in our lives that we’re excited about,” Francisco said.

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