Pet Project

By day, they’re veterinarians. By night, two Valley women trade their hospital whites for chef whites to whip up some of the tastiest ice cream on the Boulevard.

  • Category
    Eat & Drink
  • WRITTEN BY
    RACHEL HELLER ZAIMONT
  • PHOTOGRAPHED BY
    TAMEKA JACOBS

 


Creating premium ice cream from scratch is time-consuming. From concocting a new recipe to sourcing artisanal ingredients to whipping up large batches, countless hours go into the production of a single scoop. That’s why opening Sonny’s Amazing Italian Ices & Crèmes in Sherman Oaks was an impressive—and unlikely—feat for its two owners, Kelly Hall and Sindy Habib. Both are fulltime veterinarians.

“It’s a miracle that we opened,” muses Kelly.

Kelly and Sindy cooked up the idea when they were coworkers at a veterinary hospital years ago. Sindy’s father had an ice cream and Italian ice business while she was growing up in New York, and Kelly always loved to bake, so they envisioned opening a shop together for fun. The only hitch? Neither of them had made ice cream before.

“It’s just right: the Buddha/Zen dog contemplating ice cream. What could be more LA?”

“We knew nothing about any of this, so we were watching YouTube videos in our spare time,” Kelly recalls with a laugh. “We were watching and saying, ‘This might be possible.’”

After months of learning the craft and investing in a batch freezer, they rented their space in a Sherman Oaks strip mall and brought their daydream to life. Sonny’s opened in January 2016 and now serves more than 50 flavors of ice cream, Italian ice and crème ice—a hybrid of ice and dairy. All are made fresh, in-house.

Popular ice cream flavors include chocolate milk and cookies, strawberry balsamic and the aptly-named “stakeout”—a blend of coffee and doughnuts. The crème ice menu features inventive pairings like Nutella with ganache and mint chip. And in the summer, nothing slakes thirst like a scoop of Italian ice in peach or mango.

Fresh ingredients are key: oranges and lemons are hand-squeezed and crispy waffle cones and bowls are made from their own recipes.

Creative shakes, sundaes and homemade cookie sandwiches are also offered, along with a rich “butterbeer” float. Customers in the know can order off of Sonny’s secret menu of decadent DIY shakes. And just ask the gals what they can do with a Moon Pie.

“We wanted a mom-and-pop place where everyone knows you,” Sindy says. “Everybody who comes in finds something they like.”

During the week, Kelly works at a clinic in Westwood and Sindy works at a veterinary center in Sherman Oaks. Both are dedicated and passionate about spending their free time in the world of chilled confections.

So who is Sonny? It’s not Matt Hoch, Sindy’s boyfriend, who is often the only male behind the counter. Sonny was Sindy’s black lab, memorialized in a whimsical mural on the wall, depicting a cross-legged dog on a yoga mat with a bowl of ice cream tucked in one paw. “We both love our animals,” Kelly says. “We figured he was a good representative of us. It’s just right: the Buddha/Zen dog contemplating ice cream. What could be more LA?”

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