A MAN whose ancestors gave a town a taste of Italy is to float a cool new business.
Geoff Dobson’s grandfather Frank Valente travelled from Cassino in the Frosinone province of the country to set up an ice cream shop in Seaham.
Now Geoff is continuing the family trade, ditching his van for a parlour in his home town.
It will follow on from the counter his mother Angelina, 88, ran in North Terrace in the building which is now Dempseys Bar, and the other family cafe in Church Street, which is now run by his cousins.
The dad-of-two hit on the idea of opening the shop in the new North Dock marina development after berthing his boat at its moorings.
The finishing touches are being put to Nicey Icey ahead of its launch on Saturday, February 15, with the shop to join the Look Out cafe.
Geoff, 55, who will run the business with wife Judith, 54, said: “I was watching how busy it was last year, but decided it was too late at that point, so around September, October, I decided to take on the premises.
“It’s a big gamble, and we’ve put in a lot of money.
“But down here, there has to be something for people when they come, and there’s the big beach behind us, and there’s the cafe.
“If the kids want ice cream and their parents want a coffee from the cafe upstairs, they’re welcome to come down here with it, so we’re working together.”
Geoff, who lives in Seaham and is father to Kevin, 32, Michelle, 28, and Rebecca, 13, will be joined by his mum as they open the doors of the shop for the first time, with Seaham a different place his family decided to settle in the 1920s.
He added: “The town has changed massively.
“I remember when we had the shop on the seafront and I would help out now and again when I was about 15-years-old, and the whole seafront was filthy.
“If you think of it now, it’s fantastic compared to how it used to be.”
Geoff and Judith, who have been supported by the marina’s bosses as they prepare to open their seaside-themed venture, plan to take on an apprentice to help them run their counter.
The parlour will have 12 seats, with tables and chairs outside during fair weather.