Ice cream maker in Maltby works hard to protect environment

By Lauren Salcedo Special to The Herald

MALTBY — The owners of Snoqualmie Gourmet Ice Cream have created almost 800 premium flavors while maintaining an environmentally sustainable facility.

Barry and Shahnaz Bettinger of Edmonds have owned Snoqualmie Gourmet Ice Cream for 13 years. Before moving to Washington, Barry worked as the manager of a dairy plant in upstate New York.

The cafe in Maltby was a split-level house when the Bettingers bought it 13 years ago. They decided it was better to renovate the existing building than put in something new.

But the owners didn’t get heavily involved in eco-friendly techniques until 2004, when they attended a sustainable development forum.

The facility now has a number of environmentally friendly features, the Bettingers said. They include a garden for plants used as ingredients in the ice cream, soups and sandwiches, including lavender, garlic, tomatoes, cherries, rhubarb, rosemary, sage and blueberries.

The metal roof of the factory is directed at the garden so that rainwater runoff can irrigate it.

The parking lot was made using pervious concrete, which filters out toxins such as oil in the storm water runoff and allows water to pass cleanly through to the ground below. The practice protects water quality and reduces flooding and erosion.

They also installed a bio-filtration swale, which is a kind of ditch made of organic materials, compost and plants, to replace traditional curbside stormwater runoff drains, which can allow contaminants to pass in the water. The practice also protects water quality.

They installed solar panels to power the facility. The panels came with a kiosk in the cafe in which customers can use a touch-screen to view bar-graphed data about the electricity generated from the building. The kiosk also has informational tabs explaining the benefits of renewable energy.

Snoqualmie is using new manufacturing systems that save power and water, as well as energy efficient lighting and refrigeration. The waste heat from the ice cream-making equipment heats the building and provides all the hot water needed for production.

“Being sustainable is more expensive, and costs are a struggle, but it’s better for the community and product prices haven’t increased at all with the new facility,” Barry Bettinger said.

The company sells its ice cream, gelato and frozen custard at a variety of supermarkets including QFC, Fred Meyer and Whole Foods.

“We have a range of 16 flavors and two seasonal flavors available for purchase at supermarkets,” Barry Bettinger said. “The flavors are never the same; we rotate through the list of 800 flavors so they are always changing.” The customers, he said, often come up with new ideas.

“We had a Facebook flavor contest and Bananas Foster was the winning flavor,” he added.

The cafe offers other unique customer experiences, like a set of large windows which allow customers to view employees in the kitchen making the baked ingredients for the ice cream, including cookie dough, cheesecake, fudge, brownies and crisps.

Not only is the company family-owned, but it is also very family-oriented, with four of the employees being relatives.

“Owning my own business has been great,” Barry Bettinger said. “Getting to work with my wife is my favorite part.”