Tucked away in a small kitchen on Milwaukee’s East Side is a three-man ice cream operation churning out hundreds of hand-packed pints a day.
The trio – Ryan Povlick, Justin Povlick and Dustin Garley – run Milwaukee-based Scratch Ice Cream, a producer of small-batch ice cream made from scratch. Scratch is known for its variety of flavors, including Door County Cherry, Mint Chip Brownie and Cold Brew & Toffee.
The startup kicked off 2020 in a new 1,100-square-foot kitchen on Farewell Avenue, which allowed it to increase its backstock and ramp up its production of ice cream. Scratch has a wholesale focus and can be found in a variety of grocery stores across southeastern Wisconsin. It also sells ice cream at Zocalo Food Park and Crossroads Collective in Milwaukee.
Scratch was recently featured on WISN-TV Channel 12’s “Project Pitch It,” where the startup earned $5,000 and one year of business coaching and strategy deployment. Now the company has plans to open a new location at Flour and Feed food hall in Bay View and a second food truck in a location yet to be determined.
But the story behind two of Scratch’s ice cream producers wasn’t always sweet. Both Ryan Povlick and Garley struggled with heroin addiction. Shortly after Povlick became sober, he started working for his aunt and uncle’s business, Yo Mama! Frozen Yogurt in Wauwatosa. During his off time, Povlick stayed in the kitchen, studying different ice cream recipes, reading books and guides to create the rich-flavored and textured ice cream that Scratch would go on to produce.
“It took quite a while to find the recipe, but once I did, my aunt and uncle tried it, they loved it and gave me the capital to get started,” Povlick said.
Povlick always knew he wanted to be an entrepreneur, but his aunt and uncle believing in him made all the difference, he said.
“I think I was just born for it,” Povlick said. “I mean also, I was a junkie, a felon, I never graduated college and so I didn’t have many options. So, when I had the opportunity to start something, I just took advantage of it.”
Years later, Povlick and Garley, who met each other at a sober living home, agree that Scratch has become more than just an ice cream shop.
“We use it as a platform to show people, and maybe to people who are still struggling, that ‘Hey, we can get better,’” Povlick said.
Founders: Ryan Povlick, founder; Dustin Garley, partner; Justin Povlick, partner
Product: Small batch ice cream made from scratch
Goal: Expand into new markets and launch two new locations