Inside Cloud Cups, The New Black-Owned Gelato Shop In Kensington

Kensington is now the home of a lively Black-owned gelato shop that’s giving customers an immersive tasting and retail experience.

Cloud Cups
Kory Aversa

On Tuesday, March 19th, Cloud Cups is opening its doors at their first-ever flagship location in Kensington at MaKen Studios North (3525 I Street). The 2,000 square feet gelato shop that accommodates 50 customers has a lounge, retail section, and an upcoming gelato-making workshop. The “cloud” design aesthetic features dreamy floors painted by Raheem Spataccino and colorful murals by famed graphic artist Justin Richburg.

Cloud Cups in Kensington.
Ernest Owens

For West Oak Lane native and owner Galen Thomas, a graduate of Frozen Dessert University in North Carolina and the Carpigiani Gelato University in Illinois, this moment is “next level” after previously launching Cloud Cups as a scoop truck and pop-up spot at various locations across Philly since 2019.

“This has been a journey that started as an experiment in trying to make gelato a CBD edible to now a brick-and-mortar with over 150 tested flavors,” Thomas says on being in the gelato industry for five years. “To now see this become a flagship location that will host tastings, events, parties, retail, and more is a dream come true.”

Owner Galen Thomas and his fiancée Victoria Pickens.
Ernest Owens

“I’m so grateful for so many people who’ve helped me along the way, especially Charisse,” Thomas says of the late Charisse McGill of French Toast Bites, who suddenly passed away in January. “She helped expand my business at a time when we were trying to grow, and I’m making several flavors at my shop in honor of her legacy.”

Galen Thomas and the late Charisse McGill at Spruce Street Harbor Park.
Cloud Cups

Cloud Cups features a rotating variation of 36 flavors of gelato and sorbet (from 150 of their tested and perfected options), along with waffle cones made in-house that include several different flavors. They have traditional and experimental flavors of sorbet (such as passion fruit, berry mafia, piña colada, pineapple grape, soursop), gelato (such as vanilla chocolate, orange creamsicle, brown sugar cinnamon pop tart, and salted caramel), and non-dairy and vegan gelatos (such as pistachio with saffron and rose water, non-dairy white coffee, and butterfly pea vanilla).

In remembering McGill, Thomas created two special flavors that incorporate French Toast Bites (French Toast Bites gelato strawberry and French Toast Bites gelato strawberry stracciatella). There’s also two additional local Black-owned spots that inspired some of the flavors at Cloud Cups: Two favors in collaboration with the Cheesecake Lady from Elkins Park (non-dairy butterfly pea vanilla and red velvet cheesecake) and another from Bean 2 Bean Coffee Company (non-dairy white coffee).

36 flavors of gelato at Cloud Cups.
Kory Aversa

Customers can also partake in purshasing some specialty Cloud Cups merchandise in the retail section of their shop. Several graphic t-shirts designed by Troy Shirts are for sale, along with Cloud Cups gelato-scented candles made by Thomas’ fiancée Victoria Pickens of The candles, which are made with apricot coconut creme wax and natural fragrance oils, include the scented flavors of limoncello, strawberries & cream, cereal milk, mint chocolate chip, and waffle cone — flavors that are sold at the shop.

Cloud Cups has a retail space on location.
Ernest Owens
Scented candles made by Victoria Pickens.
Ernest Owens

In April, Cloud Cups plan to launch gelato-making workshops for customers on location. Over the weekend, I was the first to test the concept with Thomas. An original flavor we created on site was Irish cookies and cream — a boozy ode to St. Patrick’s Day that’s made with Bailey’s Irish Coffee and Oreos. The sweet and creamy gelato will be exclusively sold during their grand opening week.

Irish Cookies & Cream, an exclusive gelato flavor made by Eater Philly’s editor at Cloud Cups.
Ernest Owens

Currently, Thomas plans to “collaborate and raise up” other minority-owned businesses every month with a focus on BIPOC businesses/chefs along with women-owned businesses, LGBTQIA businesses, Asian and other voices that he believes “need to be raised up and supported.”

For those who can’t wait until its flagship location opening, some flavors are also available for purchase via Uber Eats, Door Dash, and nationwide shipment on their website.

Cloud Cups officially opens on Tuesday, March 19th from 3 pm to 5 pm, with the first 100 customers getting a free scoop of gelato or sorbet. Regular days and times will be Wednesdays to Sundays, from 1 pm to 8 pm. Once warmer weather becomes more frequent, they plan to expand hours and days in April. All walk-in customers are welcomed, with more information that can be found on their website.

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