Tinkering with DRY’s Store Locator for any length of time, you’ll find DRY Soda carried in some pretty amazing independent cafes, restaurants, grocery stores and more. Each of these places has a story, so we’ve set out to bring you the best of these entrepreneurial endeavors to you in Retailer Tales.
Today’s Tale: Coolhaus
Chatting with: Natasha Case, co-founder
Location: Culver City, CA / trucks all over the country
Specialty: Architecturally-inspired ice cream sandwiches
With her Masters of Architecture complete, one might assume that Natasha Case would have gone straight into the industry. However, even with all her smarts and passion combined, there was something keeping her from that typical path.
“In school there were all these fancy words and terminology, things that are just so esoteric and intimidating for non-architecture people. These spaces are built for the public, but it’s all about how people perceive what the architect is trying to convey and it doesn’t always connect. It was lacking a human connection and I wanted a way to make that happen,” Case says.
With this in mind, Natasha found connection in the most universal of languages: ice cream.
Natasha started Coolhaus Ice Cream Sandwiches in 2009 along with Freya Estreller to combine her passions for architecture and food as well as a way to bridge the gap between the general public and architecture. Armed with her idea of “Farchitecture” – food + architecture – Natasha set out to explore and expand the world of architecture through the medium of food. But first, the two needed a place to set up shop. ”The only thing we could afford was a truck, so we got this little beat up postal van on Craigslist to start,” Natasha says. “We couldn’t even drive it! We towed it to Coachella, set up shop, and that was the beginning of it all.” Coolhaus now has trucks roaming the streets of Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Austin and Dallas in addition to two brick-and-mortar shops in southern California.
The business began with interesting timing and circumstance. Though the nation was in the thick of the recession, the growing popularity of food trucks and widespread adoption of geography-based social media created the perfect stage for a viral launch of the brand, as is evidenced by their collective 100,000+ Twitter followers and 17,000 Facebook fans.
In explaining what sets Coolhaus apart from any other spot, Natasha pinpoints that ”it’s really the architecture connection that sets us apart. It’s weird, and it’s so weird that no one else is weird enough to do it besides us.” This connection is embodied each of Coolhaus’ uniquely flavored sandwiches – constructed with cookies as the floor and roof, composing a place which ice cream can comfortably its call home, and then being named after famous architects and historical design movements. One of her favorite sandwiches – which is also available pre-packaged in select grocery stores – is the I. M. Pei-nut Butter, consisting of double chocolate cookies and mousse-like peanut butter ice cream.
Though Natasha had tried DRY Soda while in grad school, their paths crossed again at a No Kid Hungry dinner in Beverly Hills when Natasha was introduced to DRY’s CEO Sharelle through mutual friend Billy Harris. Coolhaus now carries several flavors of DRY Soda in its trucks and shop and even features many in floats.
Though a self-described “weird” concept, Natasha stands behind the connecting fact that “the best brands have a heritage that’s real. Anybody can create packaging and a logo, but it only truly works when the story is compelling and people want to get behind it.” By relating the design community and public together through food, Coolhaus has made a lot of happy, connected customers speaking the same tasty language.