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The Wildcat Tribune

The official student news site of Dougherty Valley High School.

The Wildcat Tribune

The official student news site of Dougherty Valley High School.

The Wildcat Tribune

The Golnazar family integrates Iranian ice-cream flavors and culture in San Ramon

The Golnazar siblings preside over the family run business in its 17th year in San Ramon.
//Mitra Golnazar
The Golnazar siblings preside over the family run business in its 17th year in San Ramon.

In 2006, Mitra Golnazar launched Golnazar Ice Cream in hopes of introducing Iranian ice-cream flavors to the San Ramon community. Since its inception in San Ramon, Golnazar ice-cream containers have become a common sight in shelves of major retailers across the Bay Area.

Golnazar started out as eight letters etched on a worn-out name tag belonging to a 13-year-old boy who supported his family by working at a local ice cream shop in his Iranian hometown. With time, this boy’s ambition and growing love for the ice cream business led him to found his own popular ice cream establishment in Iran; Golnazar Ice Cream. The once worn-out Golnazar name tag on the boy’s t-shirt, became embroidery on his saffron-smelling chef’s coat years later.

However, it was this man’s daughter who dreamt of bringing that familiar scent of saffron to America and embedding quality Iranian ice cream flavors into American society.    

Mitra Golnazar sits comfortably in a wooden chair at her San Ramon residence, passionately explaining how Golnazar Ice Cream came to be. Her soft tone conveys the touch of emotion she lets slip into her story. It has been over 70 years since her father founded the family business in their distant hometown in Iran; 70 years since a simple childhood ambition gave way to the now successful manufacturing business. 

Golnazar oversaw the move of the business to San Ramon in 2006. A determined businesswoman with a clear vision for the future of Golnazar Ice Cream, she identified the need for their expansion overseas. From the very beginning, she harbored a vision of manufacturing ice-cream on a large scale, rather than simply being the small ice-cream shop on the block. However, it took time for her to become accustomed to business management in a new landscape.

From the very beginning, she harbored a vision of manufacturing ice-cream on a large scale, rather than simply being the small ice-cream shop on the block.

“Being in the manufacturing world, there were not many women-owned [businesses] around me… I learned everything from A to Z,” Golnazar said.

This lack of representation in her community did not deter her from seeking new heights with her business. Taking her newfound knowledge with her, Golnazar began partnering with retail stores such as WholeFoods to demo her ice-cream flavors. Assortments of saffron, date, and pistachio made their way to the shelves, as Golnazar’s unique combination of flavors began to take off. However, just when sales had begun to rise, the 2008 economic crisis struck businesses everywhere.

“It takes [a small business] a lot longer than any other medium to large sized business, to get back up. A lot of them don’t even come back,” Golnazar reflected.

Golnazar Ice Cream was fortunately one of the businesses whose sales remained relatively stable throughout the economic crisis. However, Golnazar watched smaller businesses around her struggle to retain their customers and increase their sales. 

In a post-crisis community, she was made to fight for her business’ place on the shelves by differentiating Gol Ice Cream from other ice cream stores in the Bay Area. While San Ramon’s Cold Stone typically serves an assortment of more traditional flavors, Golnazar bridges connections between various cultures through flavors derived from the creators’ homeland. In essence, flavors are chosen based on their cultural significance and health benefits to the audience of the business.

“Imagine wanting to choose saffron [as an ingredient]. That’s something totally out of the world for people! [To promote it], I started focusing on all the great things that it does for your body, making it a point to prove that when you put saffron and milk together, these have a sort of calming effect,” Golnazar said.

Each of Golnazar’s flavor are associated with antidepressant qualities, calming effects, and health benefits. By cutting down on the sugar levels in their ice-creams, Golnazar entices health and fitness enthusiasts who are searching for low-calorie deserts. One of their most popular ice cream flavors, ‘double date,’ feature dates, which contain necessary antioxidants and vitamins that support the brain and heart health of consumers. The process of creating it dates back to over 2000 years ago.

Each of Golnazar’s flavor are associated with antidepressant qualities, calming effects, and health benefits.

“The way they did it, is that they would dig underground and leave the dates in milk overnight. In the morning, they would drink that milk with the date sitting in it, and it would get enough energy to work for eight hours,” Golnazar explained.

Throughout the manufacturing process, Golnazar was committed to maintaining the gourmet quality standards of her ice-cream. 

“I made a promise to my father when he was around. He said, ‘if you are using my name, there’s one promise you have to make. The quality and customer service that I have offered all my life has to stay the same.’ That is never going to be touched,” Golnazar said.

Golnazar Ice Cream’s commitment to introducing healthy and culturally significant flavors to American society, caught the attention of the San Ramon community soon after the inception of the business. However, their unique flavors and added consultation of nutritionists to conceptualize ice-cream with calming effects and health benefits, solidified the public’s interest in their business.

“As time went by, [I noticed] that people had a lot more respect for their consumption. They started looking towards us,” Golnazar reflected.

As her customer base started to expand exponentially, Golnazar began attending networking events and accepting catering opportunities to foster this growth. Golnazar Ice Cream could be found at the local farmers market, the Chamber of Commerce, events at the San Francisco City Hall and a variety of cultural festivals.

“From day one, our goal was to be part of any events and festivals where we could introduce Iranian culture and quality to the non Iranian community as well,” Golnazar said.

To this date, Golnazar is committed to maintaining a connection with her customers and retaining the values of her family. She cites her father as one of her biggest sources of her ambition. In the years since her move to San Ramon, she has kept her promise of carrying on the Golnazar name and maintaining a transparent and customer-oriented business. Golnazar Ice Cream currently ships through all of Northern and Southern California, Washington DC, Virginia, Maryland, and Houston, amongst other locations.

 “We are so proud of our name, and our family heritage. This system that we have with our customers and employees, is a family,” Golnazar said. 

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Shreyas Sambara, News Copy Editor
Shreyas stayed on the Tribune because it enabled him to dig deeper into issues he other wouldn’t otherwise be exposed to. This is his fifth year doing journalism, and before he joined the Tribune, he was in the Journey program for two years. In his free time, Shreyas likes to play soccer, travel, and play video games. His goal for journalism this year is to continue to discover and bring to light hidden voices in his community through his love for profile stories. If Shreyas could be anyone on the Tribune, he would be a combination of Jack and Kush because they have such interesting and unique personalities.
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