Until just two years ago, Michael Kitching believed that he would be a long-haul flight attendant for the rest of his life. But when he was made redundant in October 2020 due to Covid-19's impact on the aviation industry, Kitching was left scrambling to figure out how to support his family of six.
Like a shining beacon of light in an otherwise extremely distressing time, his wife Hayley came up with the idea of opening up a real fruit ice cream store. Seeing her husband's redundancy as an opportunity for growth, Hayley encouraged Kitching to make this idea a reality.
In just six weeks, Scrunchy Millers was open for business and received overwhelming support from the local community in Milford.
Now, Kitching and Hayley's days are kept busy with running the store. Their days usually begin by dropping their children off to school, before picking up supplies to stock up the shop, or heading straight to work for a 10 to 12 hour shift.
In the store, Kitching does everything from cleaning chillers, scooping the gelato, making the real fruit ice creams, to serving coffee. When he is not serving customers, he can be found in the back creating the store's popular ice cream cakes.
At Scrunchy Millers, they take pride in making real fruit ice cream to the next level. Offering a wide variety of different flavours including blackberry, passionfruit, mango and orange chocolate chip, as well as seasonal flavours like watermelon, feijoa and plum, the menu is constantly being updated to give its customers a novel experience every time they order.
"Any of our 11 fruits can be mixed making hundreds of different real fruit ice cream combinations. The only thing limiting customers is their imagination."
Scrunchy Millers not only offers ice cream and yoghurt based options, but also dairy-free soy and coconut-based alternatives. They are proud to be one of the few places in New Zealand that serves vegan real fruit ice cream.
Their other major offering is gelato and sorbetto, created in close collaboration with Charlies Gelato. Scrunchy Millers currently stocks over 50 flavours, providing something for everyone.
"While other ice cream shops are coming up with crazy whacky flavours, we find what people are really looking for is yummi-ness above all else. Classic flavours like chocolate and caramel are just hard to beat," noted Kitching.
Scrunchy Millers' top selling products include their Snickers bar gelato, Ferrero Rocher gelato as well as their sweet and salty caramel gelato.
Kitching's personal favourite is their Whiskey Cacao, which was inspired by Scrunchy Millers' collaboration with Edna Swart. Made with Glenmorangie whiskey, the gelato is decadent, rich and creamy while still packing a feisty punch of whiskey.
Looking ahead, Kitching hopes to experiment with some new real fruit flavours for the summer using seasonal fruit and introduce event catering.
"We have some very exciting ideas, so watch this space."