Seattle is a food city, which means it can be an intimidating place to jumpstart your first food business. With an increasingly competitive market amidst the Amazon-age of endless options, food businesses in particular must be innovative, embrace risk and exhibit a solid background in their craft. SÜSU Rolled Ice Cream, the artisanal ice cream maker that combines “traditional French custard ice cream recipes with the heritage of Thai-style street ice cream,” embodies innovation with an ever-rotating menu that challenges their customers to eat adventurously and try new Asian-inspired flavors.
Co-owners Katie Pohl and Chef Muhammad Fairoz A. Rashed are moving from a cart to their first permanent Seattle International District location in summer, 2019. Rashed will share reinterpretations of his Malay food heritage through new rolled ice cream creations. “His recipes and inspiration come from cooking with his grandmother growing up,” says Pohl. Rashed, who studied and worked in Michelin Star restaurants in France, infuses his Singaporean food background into modern ice cream arrangements that incorporate flavors such as goat cheese, balsamic reduction and fig, or Durian Serawa and mozzarella.
Along with food fundamentals, patient ingenuity has been a hallmark of Pohl and Rashed’s food business journey. During their many trips to Thailand, Rashed and Pohl became fascinated by the technology that made it possible to flash freeze ice cream in 100 degree heat coupled with 100 percent humidity. In 2016, equipped with a new rolled ice cream cart that Rashed’s family sent over from Asia, they took the plunge and established SÜSU, the business that would put rolled ice cream on the map in Seattle.
“It’s been really interesting to make friends at the markets with a lot of the people in the community,” says Pohl. “We know a lot of them by name and we know their kids and what they’re doing. We have people who will work their kid’s schedules around our ice cream schedules so they can come get their ice cream every week. That’s a biggest compliment for us. I mean that blows my mind that people will do that.”
The Seattle farmers’ market community has stepped in to support SÜSU. “We’ve definitely had some friends who’ve come and have helped us,” states Pohl. “Whether it’s an architect, or it’s a property lawyer. That’s how we found our property lawyer to help us with our lease. It was one of our customers who worked for a construction law firm, so we went to her office and they helped us out so that was wonderful… A lot of people are very excited about seeing us grow and what we can offer in a bigger space with more staff and resources.”
With a loan from Business Impact NW, along with support from other resources and community change makers, SÜSU is currently renovating their new location on King and 7th in the Seattle International District. “Business Impact NW was incredibly helpful and Joe the director was just so nice and so friendly,” says Pohl. “One of the great things you do too is you’re all about networking. You always have these networking events going on, but even if you need an email intro you’re there. For example, recently we got hooked up with someone at the Office of Economic Development – somebody who specifically works with building and construction… Another thing I love about Business Impact NW, if I have a question, it doesn’t matter what day it is, or what time of day it is, I can just email somebody there and you guys just get back to me so fast. That has just been immensely helpful… There are no words to explain how grateful I am that we even found you.” Business Impact NW is proud to be a small part of SÜSU’s success.
Interested in expanding or starting your own business? Arrange a meeting with one of Business Impact NW’s business coaches by visiting businessimpactnw.org/counseling.
Want to learn more about SÜSU’s story, watch this extended video from the interview on YouTube:
About the author
Megan is Business Impact NW's Development Coordinator and a candidate for Seattle University's Arts Leadership MFA program. She holds a BA in English with an emphasis in creative writing from the University of Montana and is passionate about storytelling of all forms, nature and developing community by elevating our unique stories. Megan grew up on her family's farm and ranch in Montana and is especially inspired to empower small business owners from underserved rural and urban communities.