When I was up in La Jolla last week checking out Ariccia Italian Market, I couldn't resist stopping in the new Bardot Bars store - a shop on Prospect selling fancy ice cream bars. I was intrigued for a few reasons. For one thing, the whole concept just seems so ridiculous. It's a store that sells ice cream bars! For $5.50 a pop! In one of the most expensive real estate locations in town! I can't help but wonder how many they have to sell per hour to pay the rent there overlooking the ocean.
Secondly, they looked so pretty in the pictures with the assorted colors and designs on them, and I kinda wondered how they did that. (The answer - stencils.) Third, their marketing materials are almost unbelievably pretentious. They claim to sell not ice cream bars, but "Love. On a Stick." That sort of hubris begs to be tested. I also have sort of a long-standing fascination with both hi-lo mashups and frozen ice cream novelties. I am obsessed with the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck in NYC and dream about opening something like that here. (How could it not be a huge hit? The beach! The parks! Why didn't these people do that instead??) Also? I really just wanted an ice cream bar.
When I walked in, the place was empty but for the owner and a couple of employees who were busy squeegeeing the very fancy custom freezer case that is the centerpiece of the shop. It's a cool looking design - but the bars inside were damp too, and some had frost on them. The owner was fretting about it, but it isn't really a problem for customers because they bring the bars they are serving from the back of the shop. He seemed like a nice guy, and told me they make the bars in Mexico and they are opening two other shops in the LA area very soon - in Covina and Arcadia to be exact.
The bars are divided into two categories "Classic" and "Bardot" - I couldn't discern much rhyme or reason to the distinction between the two categories, but the Bardot bars cost 40 cents more than the Classic ($5.40 or $5.80). Most of them are familiar flavor combinations with clever fancy names. There is a coffee one, a mint one called "Deep Thoughts," a strawberry cheesecake called "New York, NY" and a Key Lime named "Southern Belle." They told me they had actually sold out of their cookies and cream flavor the day before.
I ordered a box of six, in order to give them a college try, and to ensure I would get the special dry ice packaging - which is free with a purchase of six or more since I had to drive back across town with them. (Apparently I was only the third person to do this.)
Clearly they are relying on walk-in business, based on the location and their stylish boutique atmosphere, which is certainly lovely. Sad to say though, I just don't think what they're selling right now for $5. apiece is any better than what grocery stores are selling for far, far less. As much as I love the idea of supporting a local business, I'd take a good old fashioned Dove bar over theirs any day of the week.
1025 Prospect St
(between Jose's and The Splotch, I mean The Spot)
La Jolla, CA 92037