An ice cream shop started by two Lockport High School teachers has grown into an award-winning establishment that will now be open throughout the winter
By Franklin Heinzmann
In 2007, Lake Effect Artisan Ice Cream was started by two lifelong friends turned Lockport High School teachers. Today, Erik Bernardi, who teaches biology, and Jason Wulf, who is an art teacher, have made Lake Effect into an award-winning ice cream shop.
The ice creamery was opened with the goal to be the best in the business.
"The idea in opening Lake Effect was nothing less that the desire to create the best ice cream in WNY, and build the best ice cream shops so people can enjoy our unique creations," Wulf said.
Lake Effect, located in Lockport, along the Erie Canal, has benches overlooking the historic Flight of Five lock system on the canal, a freezer comparable to a treasure chest full of treats to enjoy or take on the road, a carefully hand-drawn menu, and a seating area that's rarely empty.
No matter how many people are in line, the employees always deliver top-quality service.
Also featured in the shop is a very large award wall that shows accolades such as:
The combination of an ever-increasing fan base and consistently working hard has enabled Lake Award to win these awards.
"Our keys to success has been the drive to be creative, willingness to work hard and our desire to embrace the best things from our unique city, and incorporate them into our ice creams," Wulf said.
Lake Effect Artisan Ice Cream usually closes in early November, but Bernardi and Wulf recently decided to keep their business open throughout the winter. There was always a plan for Lake Effect to become a year-round shop, and this year they decided to strike while the iron is hot.
"We've always had it kind of in the back of our minds that we've always wanted to try it. This year was a really good year; more and more people came; we keep getting better and better summers," Wulf said
New menu items and ice cream flavors will be created and introduced to an already creative menu that features flavors such as:
One new item that has been announced for the winter season is the Warm Front Float.
"The thing I'm most proud of now is the Warm Front Floats. I think they're creative and a new way to get a hot chocolate or a hot cider," Wulf said.
One of Lake Effect's new Warm Front Floats, called Chocolate S'more (pictured), features frozen hot chocolate ice cream with hot chocolate, toasted marshmallows, chocolate-covered graham crackers, and a side of syrup.
Lake Effect customer Michele Ulanowski of North Tonawanda was enthralled at the possibility of being able to come back throughout the winter months.
"Oh that's great!" she said, as she ate with a friend. "We were actually here for one last dessert before they (Lake Effect) closed down for the winter. We'll have to come back in a few weeks."
It is actually convenient for Lake Effect to stay open throughout the winter.
"We decided that this year we'd give it a shot, because we're in the building in the winter making ice cream anyway," Wulf said. "We're heating it (the building) and doing our stuff in there already, so we thought this would be a good year to give it a shot."
One thing that was made clear was that nothing is changing just because Lake Effect will be open longer.
"We have a lot of things that have become traditions. ... Those traditions, even though we are staying open all year, aren't going to go away," Wulf said. "We are still going to do the pint sale; we are still going to do the Christmas sale. ... I think the big thing is keep an eye (out) for some interesting new winter flavors."
The Lake Effect owners consider staying open year-round as a stepping stone to new ventures.
"We're in the process of purchasing a building probably about 300 yards away. We are turning that solely into a manufacturing building. It's just around 7,000 square feet. Our intentions have always been to have a few shops around the Western New York area, but we need a much bigger kitchen to be able to do that," Wulf said.
Lake Effect also sells its ice cream in other locations. According to the website lakeeffecticecream.com, several supermarkets across Western New York carry Lake Effect's pints in their frozen foods sections, including several Wegmans and Tops supermarkets.
To learn more about Lake Effect Artisan Ice Cream, visit its website at www.lakeeffecticecream.com, "Like" them on Facebook, and/or follow them on Twitter and/or Instagram, as well.
Heinzmann wrote this article as part of his CMS 120B communications study class at Niagara University.