Operator Spotlight: Saint Louis Zoo

Recognized as a leading zoo in animal management, research, conservation and education, the Saint Louis Zoo is a get-away destination that brings together more than 14,840 wild animals and 3,200,000 annual visitors. A discovery is around every corner, and that includes its outstanding food and beverage options. The Zoo has something for every taste and diet, so you can enjoy mouthwatering favorites as you wander the grounds. Take DOLE® Soft Serve for example.

Eric Delmez, a Food and Beverage Manager at the Zoo, helped unite DOLE Soft Serve and the Saint Louis Zoo in 2011. He first tried Pineapple DOLE Soft Serve during his honeymoon to Disney World a few years prior. Not only was it delicious, the shop serving it had a longer line than any of the rides. So, when the Zoo’s gift shop manager suggested bringing DOLE Soft Serve to the Zoo, Eric was immediately on board.

But it wasn’t just about the taste. Having a dessert option that was fat-free, lactose-free and gluten-free was a huge appeal to Eric. He also wanted to offer something that stood out—something other than ice cream. “I try to keep up on the trends in the industry and keep up with what customers are looking for,” he said. “More and more people have allergies or are vegetarian or vegan. They’re looking for alternative options.”

After trying all 6 DOLE flavors, Eric chose Pineapple (a staple flavor) and Raspberry to complement it. The Zoo worked with Midwest Equipment Company and Kent Precison Foods Group (the manufacturer of Dole Soft Serve) to find the right equipment to handle the large capacity crowds typical for summer days at the Zoo. And just like that, they were ready to serve soft serve.

“I’ve had nothing but positive experiences with KPFG,” said Eric. “I’ve never had a delay on product, and they helped get marketing materials to our team and were always helpful.”

Pineapple and Raspberry DOLE Soft Serve continue to draw huge crowds at the Zoo, so Eric has never switched out the flavors. Though, he does wish the Zoo had space for additional hoppers, and flavors. “DOLE Lemon is phenomenal,” he added. “It could almost replace our Lemon Chill, and it’s healthier too.”

When asked what he would tell someone considering adding DOLE soft serve to their location, Delmez again expressed how popular the product is. But he also emphasized its profitability. “We have about a 72% profit margin at the zoo, and we are still able to keep the price low,” he said. “It’s so affordable, and dry storage and a long shelf life make it easy to handle too.”

To follow the Saint Louis Zoo’s lead and increase your profits with DOLE Soft Serve Mix, visit dolesoftserve.com.

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