By Maria Surma Manka | Photography by John Linn
It’s usually not a good sign when a customer cries. But at Victual (shopvictual.com), a gourmet food shop in downtown Crosby that makes its own super-premium, lactose-free ice cream, more than one customer has wept tears of joy. “We have lactose-intolerant customers literally in tears because they can eat ice cream for the first time in 20 years,” said Paul Kirkman, owner and president of Victual. “It’s such an emotional thing.”
With few options for specialty foods in Greater Minnesota, Victual has found a niche selling gourmet foodstuffs, including artisan cheeses, charcuterie and specialty spirits. Kirkman worked with the Small Business Development Center at Central Lakes College and the Brainerd Lakes Area Economic Development Corporation (BLAEDC) to bring Victual to life. A financing package that leverage’s BLAEDC’s Unified Fund is being serviced by the Initiative Foundation.
Soon after opening Victual last summer, Kirkman and his husband, Paul VanderWaal, realized that their ice cream brand, Rave Creamworks, was going to be Victual’s biggest star. The idea for the product came about because VanderWaal is lactose intolerant and wasn’t able to join in Kirkman’s family tradition of making homemade ice cream. So, Kirkman set out to create a lactose-free ice cream that was also delicious. “I am really, really picky about ice cream!” said Kirkman. “What I make has to be absolutely fantastic; the feel of it, the melt of it, everything. I have a very high bar.”
We sat down with Kirkman to get the scoop on Victual.