The thermometer read 86 degrees but it felt like Death Valley. More than,20 people were gathered at the small dessert shop near CSUN. The orders are called out, one after another.
Tamarind. Tigers Blood. Monkey Brains.
“You can’t just go to Baskin-Robbins for these flavors,” said Kristin Roskowick.
Roskowick, with her husband Patrick, is the owner of Get Shaved, a Hawaiian ice shop opened in May at 9255 Reseda Blvd. in Northridge. Get Shaved serves exotic frozen treats alongside more traditional fare like ice cream cookie sandwiches and shakes. For Roskowick, a self-proclaimed “ice cream junkie,” the store combines two of her passions.
“For me, it’s not about the money,” Roskowick said. “I really just love dessert and want to share it with everybody.”
Her appreciation for all things frozen began while growing up in western Massachusetts. At 16, Roskowick got a job scooping ice cream at a Friendly’s restaurant. She learned to make her own sundaes becoming something of a “dessert perfectionist.”
While attending college at the University of Massachusetts, she met Patrick, a San Fernando Valley native. The pair moved back to California where Kristin graduated from CSUN in 2002 with a degree in economics. The couple married and honeymooned in Hawaii where Kristin was first introduced to Hawaiian shaved ice.
The treat is similar to a snow cone. Syrups are drizzled over the ice to create blended flavors. It can also be paired with ice cream. For Roskowick, it was love at first taste.
After returning home, the couple began brainstorming business ideas and their thoughts returned to their experience in Hawaii.
“In Hawaii, every corner has a shaved ice store,” Roskowick said. “We wondered why there weren’t any stores in Los Angeles. Was it because people didn’t like it? Was there a low demand?”
They purchased a home shaving machine and began watching YouTube videos from Hawaii. In September of 2008, they used money intended for buying a house to purchase a truck and converted it into a mobile shaved ice store. The first key was perfecting the authentic technique of making Hawaiian shaved ice.
“People think it can’t be that hard to make because we make it look easy,” Roskowick said. “In truth, there’s nothing easy about it.”
Instead of using crushed ice cubes, Get Shaved starts with a large brick of ice. The ice is shaved with a sharp blade, producing a smooth texture. The temperature and consistency is important to Roskowick, who won’t serve a shaved ice containing chunks.
That commitment to perfection brings customers like Erin Fujitani and Tommy Patika back to Get Shaved.
“The ice is lighter here, not as chunky as other places,” Fujitani said.
Patika agrees while comparing Get Shaved to shaved ice elsewhere.
“In Hawaii, Waiola’s is a really popular shaved ice place,” Patika said. “We come here quite a bit because it’s similar.”
The mobile Get Shaved built a following through word-of-mouth and by posting the truck schedule on social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook. Roskowick then looked to expand to a physical location. She wanted to provide an affordable dessert destination that stayed open later than other ice cream and yogurt places. When she found a walk-up location in Northridge, returning to her college campus made sense.
“We looked for a while and gave up hope on being open before this summer,” Roskowick said. “When we found this location with a drive-thru I was like, ‘What!’ We were open within a month.”
Get Shaved provides almost 30 flavors of shaved ice, as well as toppings and combinations. A small shaved ice costs $2.50 while a large or an ice cream shake costs $3.50. Monkey Brains, a mixture of strawberry and banana shaved ice with sweetened condensed milk, is the current favorite combination. Adults tend to favor the tropical flavors, while kids gravitate toward colorful blends, according to Roskowick.
Jordon Cohen, 13, was enjoying a mixture of cherry, strawberry and banana shaved ice.
“It’s nice out today,” said Cohen on why he and his family came to Get Shaved. “It reminds me of shaved ice I had in New York City.”
Roskowick believes another location is possible for Get Shaved in the future. The couple does not want to expand too quickly, operating on a philosophy of “crawl, walk, then run,” shared by Patrick’s uncle.
For now, she is focused on providing a quality product. She values family owned and operated businesses for her ingredients, like Fosselman’s Ice Cream from Alhambra.
“There’s nothing on the menu I don’t love 100 percent,” said Roskowick with a smile. “And if you make it with a little love, I think it tastes better.”