A new ice cream shop aims to bring a taste of the Hawaiian islands to Lodi.
Dennis Kulberg retired half a dozen years ago from a 30 year career in manufacturing. He and his wife, Twin Kulberg, lived in a floating home at Tower Park Marina. Both enjoyed the laid-back lifestyle, but Twin wanted to go to work.
The family opened their first store in Tower Park six years ago. It was a seasonal ice cream shop called Sunset Sweets, serving Gunther’s ice cream. The couple had a knack for the business. The little store became a local magnet for the Delta, and Twin honed her baking skills with brownies, cheesecakes and other treats. The hours were seasonal as Delta traffic picks up in the summer months for water sports.
A year ago, they began looking for a space in Lodi to expand.
“Lodi is in need of a good quality ice cream shop,” he said.
While the company was started by Dennis and Twin, the Lodi store is under son Derek’s management. The 26-year-old spent five years working in customer service jobs in Las Vegas, but wanted to return to Lodi to be closer to family. He is now partnered with his father.
“I wanted to start something new, and be my own boss,” he said. “This is a great opportunity my dad gave me. I was all in.”
Their Lodi shop is located in the JC Penney’s shopping center, in the former storefront of Afford-A-Floor.
The store opened about a week ago, after two and a half months of renovation. The space was a shell when the Kulberg family got their name on the lease. Dennis and Derek did the construction themselves to save on costs. They even installed a patio with shade outside for customers to enjoy desserts in the sunshine. The decor borrows heavily from Hawaiian motifs, with straw umbrellas over the tables, a bright ocean mural on the wall and surfboards decorating the menu.
The menu includes one authentic Hawaiian treat: shaved ice. The Kulbergs use ice shaved off a big block, served in flower cups with layers of ice cream, sweet syrups and condensed milk.
“That is the best seller. People were ordering those in the rain, and at 9 o’clock at night,” he said.
Customers are also making a beeline for the bakery shelves, where Twin’s rich, decadent brownies can be found. She makes them on site individually, like cupcakes, with creamy fillings and elaborate toppings. Twin also bakes cheesecakes, including an Oreo cookie variety, and waffle cones and bowls for ice cream.
With fresh brownies in house, customers can also order brownie sundaes with their favorite flavor of ice cream. Deliveries come in each Friday with fresh batches of Gunther’s Ice Cream from Sacramento.
Even with ten available flavors, vanilla is still the number one seller.
Derek loves seeing kids enjoy the treats. His favorite ice cream is mint chocolate chip, while his dad prefers espresso chip.
Dennis loves meeting all the people who come in the shop, and how much his wife enjoys her work.
“I like seeing my wife happy, and she’s happy when she bakes,” he said.
Sunset Sweets is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Monday through Thursday, and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekends. They are located a 2414 W Kettleman St. 210. For more information, call 209-327-6067, www.sunsetsweets.net.
• Grand Opening on April 1 will feature single scoops in a waffle cone for $1 from 5 to 10 p.m.
• Two Buck Tuesdays offers single scoops in a cup or cone for $2 from 5 to 10 p.m. every Tuesday.