I know. You’re surprised to see an article on ice cream during winter. But when it comes to the delicious artisan-crafted frozen desserts created by master ice cream maker Greg Raynes, owner of Oak Barrel Ice & Creamery in Turlock, you’re in for a treat no matter what time of year.
Churning Something New
Raynes has made ice cream since childhood. “Oak Barrel is the result of turning a long time hobby into a business opportunity. I have wonderful childhood memories of churning fresh lemon ice cream on hot summer evenings at our cabin by the river, and hand-cranking ice cream for friends and family all of my life in a White Mountain wooden freezer. My hope is to bring back and share memories of good times represented by homemade ice cream.”
Opened in April, 2015, Raynes has set out to make Oak Barrel Ice & Creamery a celebration of food. The old-fashioned churning barrel became the inspiration for his logo.
Acknowledging there’s plenty of competition, he’s determined to create unique flavors using many local ingredients, and has over 50 gourmet recipes.
“Of course they feature secret ingredients,” he winks. “That’s what sets them apart from everyone else. We currently feature over 25 flavors. Our signature flavor is Root Beer Ice cream, and everyone says it’s like eating a root beer float. We offer a variety of seasonal flavors including Pumpkin Spice, Apple Pie and Candy Cane.”
The ice cream is produced in small batches (6 quarts) allows for fresh inventory and great flavor variety. He’s all ears when it comes to flavor suggestions.
“Customer suggestions have resulted in Black Licorice, Red Licorice, Chocolate Coconut, Tin Roof, and Grapefruit Sorbet.” The combination of small artisan-batch production and fresh flavors allows Raynes to quickly turn around custom orders for parties, events or celebrations.
“I make flavors for all reasons and all seasons. I did an event for the UC Merced Small Business Development annual meeting, and brought a variety from simple to scrumptious, packaged in convenient cups. It’s very satisfying when people come back asking for my card because they loved the ice cream.”
Further proof ice cream is great for any occasion includes Oak Barrel’s participating in their first November wedding reception at Turlock’s Carnegie Center.
Raynes considers community involvement an essential part of his client-centric philosophy. “We served over 400 samples at the Move Your Bones Run at Donnelly Park supporting the Turlock Triathlon Club; donated 150 servings for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes golf tournament fund raiser; and as the former Business Manager of the Salvation Army in Turlock, supported their Kettle campaign throughout the Christmas Season.”
An Old-Fashioned Ice Cream Shop
While visitors can take home Oak Barrel’s frozen desserts, Raynes wanted to also create a family-friendly shop that re-
captured the times when going out for ice cream was a destination and treat. It wasn’t easy.
“Our location in the Scandia Village shopping center at 197 S. Golden State Boulevard was formerly a cell phone store. It was a learning experience! It took 9 months to design and remodel it, and turn it into a dairy-approved commercial kitchen.”
Raynes was honored to receive $1000 as part of the Turlock Business Development Program, and was awarded the ceremonial check by the mayor at a City Council Meeting.
A former Algebra teacher and coach, he is proud to own a business that benefits the local economy, and currently has 5 part-
time employees. But don’t think he hides out in the back. “I’m very hands-on. I work the counter and make ice cream every day.”
Looking ahead, given the great customer response, Raynes is working on ways to grow his business at several levels.
“We’re planning on increasing involvement in farmers markets and sporting events. We want to take advantage of more catering opportunities to serve our customers at their celebrations. And we’re looking to work with specialty local restaurants who share our same passion for quality and desserts of distinction, and would like to feature our gourmet ice creams and frozen desserts.”
The Oak Barrel Ice and Creamery hours are Tuesday-Saturday, 1-9PM, Sunday 4- 9PM, closed on Mondays. Raynes is working on a new website. Meanwhile, you can find them on Facebook at Facebook.com/GregsIceCream.
Turlock Living Magazine, July/August 2015