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Below Zero Dessert Bar + Café on Barnard builds on success of Broughton location
The Tsoi and Cutlip family plan to build a brand and introduce Savannah to new food trends

IT’S BEEN about eight months since Broughton Street welcomed the Savannah Seafood Shack and Below Zero Rolled Ice Cream, which opened its doors in July 2016.

Owners, husband and wife duo David and Christine Cutlip, as well as her father Timmy Tsoi and brother Jonathan Tsoi, were the first to introduce rolled ice cream to Savannah.

By now, Savannahians should be familiar with Below Zero Rolled Ice Cream, as it can be seen being made from scratch through the windows of their Broughton Street location.

This creamy frozen treat, which originated in Thailand, has a process that involves showmanship and skill. Those who pass by can observe ice-cream artisans pouring house-made cream onto a flat metal surface that is set well below 0°F.

After blending any variety of goodies into the cream with a spatula, the mixture is spread into a thin sheet. Once it reaches a precise temperature, the now frozen cream is rolled into rosebud shaped tubes. Each spiraled cylinder is placed into a deep round bowl and embellished with freshly cut fruits, confections and sauces.

As of Monday, March 20, the Cutlips and the Tsois have opened a brand new location called Below Zero Dessert Bar + Café at 10 Barnard Street. This new space is located in the former Season’s Café next to Ellis Square and around the corner from Five Guys.

So what is the biggest difference between the Barnard Street location and the one on Broughton? “The dessert bar and café will not concentrate on seafood,” Jonathan Tsoi clarifies.

While there will be a small selection of seafood dishes, like shrimp and fish tacos, they will not serve Savannah Seafood Shack’s popular Po’ Boys or Low Country Boils. The focus for the new menu will be fast and fresh, not fried.

They added “Dessert Bar + Café” to the Below Zero name because, in addition to rolled ice cream, they will be serving savory and sweet crepes, salads, and sandwiches.

On top of that, Below Zero Dessert Bar + Café plans to serve unique teas. First, they will offer boba tea or bubble tea with tapioca pearls. This creamy non-dairy drink is sweet and refreshing with chewy marble-sized balls resting on the bottom of a clear cup.

They will also serve chilled green and black teas with popping pearls. Popping pearls or popping boba originated in Asia. These small juice filled balls are typically served on top of frozen yogurt.

However, when added to plain tea, the popping pearls add a fun burst of fruitiness when they erupt in your mouth. We can look forward to flavors like pomegranate, strawberry and mango.

Because the Cutlips and Tsois are always on the verge of cutting-edge experiences, they plan on sealing the teas with an auto-sealing machine. This securely fit, vibrant, smiley face “lid” allows patrons to throw their plastic cup, filled with tea, into a bag, stroller or backpack without it spilling!

So, if you are a traveling tourist or an on-the-go SCAD student, your tea will be safe and sound until you are ready to stab it with a large brightly colored straw.

But cool teas are only the beginning. The family wants to continue growing the Savannah food scene. “In all of our ideas, we try to be the first for Savannah. We try to bring food trends from big cities into this smaller town,” says Jonathan.

Once they become established in their new location, the family is considering introducing Bubble Waffle Cones to our city. This spin on a waffle cone, crammed with ice cream and vibrant toppings, resembles over-sized bubble wrap. Imagine a dented-in waffle.

“People love to try something new. Everyone is from different walks of life. When they visit a new city, they want something different than what they can get at home,” Timmy Tsoi recognizes.

Another noticeable difference between the Dessert Bar + Café and the Seafood Shack is the appearance. The new space is trendier with modern white tile, grey walls, wooden benches and eclectic gold Edison bulb chandeliers.

“This location is not about sitting down and eating a meal. It is more like getting a small bite and hanging out before or after dinner,” says Timmy.

They plan on making the cue time faster than the Broughton location, using digital menus and an efficient ticket system.

Unlike the other restaurant, the Dessert Bar + Café is wider, “so people will not feel constrained.”

“It will be a more relaxing atmosphere where people can work,” Timmy says.

Timmy Tsoi expresses that they “want this to be a place to hang out, a place for people to sit down and plan the next step, a place to meet up and a place for SCAD students to do some work.”

Furthermore, techy people can rejoice. With free Wi-Fi and all outlets having USB connections, the Barnard location is a recharging station for travelers and locals alike.

Don’t worry if you forget your charger, the Dessert Bar + Café will provide USB chargers for every platform.

Though this is still a family affair, Jonathan Tsoi, brother of Christine Cutlip, has chosen to leave his corporate job with Gulfstream in order to take a more hands-on approach to his family’s Below Zero business.

His father, Timmy Tsoi, a seasoned entrepreneur, serves as his mentor through this process.

“A lot of people think owning a business is easy, but you have to know every aspect of it so you can fill in when you need to,” Tsoi explains. Jonathan Tsoi is looking forward to growing into his management position at the new Below Zero Dessert Bar + Café.

“The Below Zero name is what we want to try to build.” With that, Tsoi divulged that they plan on opening a third location on the Southside in an effort to reach all crowds, including locals.

For now, the family is committed to traveling around, looking for new food trends to introduce to Savannah.

Naming the new space Below Zero Dessert Bar + Café gives them “room to grow” into these trends.