The Giovanni world of the Soller Valley

By Shirley Roberts

Published in the Majorca Daily Bulletin
Sunday 20th March 2016

Giovanni is a very familiar name to ice cream lovers. The wonderful swirls of artistically arranged ice creams look and taste the same from wherever you buy them, the design is the trademark.  Giovanni was born in Hanover to an ice cream family and as a young child had the best time watching Grandpa making ice creams.  The Giovanni garden was full of fruit and nuts that found their way into the deliciousness. 

After Chefs training and running his own restaurant in Hanover Giovanni heard the family call and turned his attention full time to ice cream.  The use of the freshest ingredients and a constant search for new and exciting tastes was his mission in life. What he also had was an ambition that the world would get to know and enjoy his ice cream.  In 1996 Giovanni opened his first ice cream parlour in Barcelona and that was the beginning of the master plan. 

Maiko Bailly loves ice cream and he had heard of the creation of Praline Mozart Ice Cream made by Giovanni in Hanover.  Maiko was a Hotelier in Hanover and he went to the shop to sample the ice cream that everyone was talking about.  It was while he was there, enjoying the taste that his life’s direction changed course. Giovanni had a flyer in the shop explaining his business model and the franchise business he hoped one day to develop in the whole of Europe and beyond.  He had identified Soller as the first place in Europe, after Barcelona that Giovanni would start his franchise operation. He was looking for a partner to take the product to Mallorca and it was through the taste of Praline Mozart that Giovanni and Maiko met and the rest they say is history.

Giovanni is a perfectionist and Maiko learned how to make ice cream from the master.  The deal was that the Giovanni brand and ice cream could be augmented by the local conditions of the venue.  Maiko and Johanna arrived in Soller ready to fly as an ice cream parlour but they could see there was so much more that they could bring to the party in Soller.
On 17th March 2010 Giovanni opened its doors in the centre of the City of Soller.  A huge ice cream cone welcomed people in to look at the amazing array of ice cream ready for the delectation of local people and visitors.  Sollerics love ice cream and this brand was welcomed with open arms or should I say mouths…

Johanna is the cake maker of the operation and the kitchen of Giovanni soon became the centre of wonderful aromas.  Maiko makes the ice cream there every day and Joanna the cakes.  Almond, Apple, Cheese, Chocolate, Orange and many more speciality cakes are produced every day. The Ice cream parlour with its cornets and sundaes had a rival in the kitchen as the tea and cake crowd found their afternoon delight.

Giovanni in Soller spread into the main square and the central location made it the ice cream meeting point for children’s parties and treats.  They enjoyed the day they hosted a wedding party with an ice cream wedding cake.  Ice cream is loved by all ages and creatively can go from simple to multi taste complications.  This is the challenge of the product and why new tastes and textures are being created all the time. The Soller Orange is world famous and is one of the best sellers of Maiko and Johanna.

Three years later in the spring of 2013 The Beach House arrived on the Repic Beach of the Port of Soller.   Giovanni ice cream plus crepes (savoury and sweet) Penguin Slush Puppy, and so much more was created for a Chill Out beachside experience. Milkshakes and cocktails and the perfect place to watch the sunset with a cocktail that is the latest from this team.  The home made cakes from Johanna’s kitchen find their way down to the beach and the concept is still developing.  To have found a beach location with plenty of space and seating next to the sea is a dream location.  Add to that the development of the Port of Soller as it flies through the long term plans that have been made for it and the future is looking very good.

Maiko and Johanna are here in the Soller Valley because a business introduction explained to them how important this place is.  They had never been here before when they arrived to take a look at the shoe shop which was the business which housed their now premises.  The imagination to visualise what could be achieved by hard work and a cheery disposition was all theirs.  They listen now to the many people who call in for coffee and ice cream and tell them of their moving stories and the ups and downs of buying a business in Soller.  They have been through it all and now laugh at their early days’ naivety especially about the process of setting up a business.  The paperwork and the mind-set of some officials left a deep impression on them.
Maiko and Johanna have two businesses and employ eleven staff in the height of the summer. They work every day from February 1st to Mid November which is the ten month Soller season that most businesses here operate.

Maiko is a young, successful entrepreneur who found his way with the franchise opportunity given to him by Giovanni.  The two premises in the Soller Valley will not be his last and already the scouts are out looking for the right business model for Soller Valley number 3. 
Giovanni himself is only 45 and is still building his empire.  At the last count Giovanni’s ice cream has 100 shops in Europe.  He is an award winning ice cream maker with first prize awards for his pistachio and vanilla ice creams. The Spanish Royal family are the latest to have given the seal of approval to his ice cream and this gives him great pride.  Spain was the country he chose to launch his products in, Barcelona in 1996 followed by Soller. His affinity with the ice cream lovers of Spain was the launch pad and now Europe is expanding to the rest of the world. Saudi, Singapore, Dubai are the latest countries to get the craze.  Three huge cruise liners supply their guests with his ice cream and this is an ever expanding market.

From Maiko and Johanna’s perspective they were directed towards Soller by Giovanni who knew his market. There are other outlets in Majorca now but the main hub is regarded as the centre of excellence that exists with this team in Soller. They are delighted to live and work in the heart of Soller and are thankful that life and opportunity brought them to this place.
This is a very positive story of how franchises can really work for some investors if the product and the formula are right.  The Soller model is a success story for two of our favourite business people and it all started with Praline Mozart Ice cream. 
So next time you are down our way either on the beach or in the centre look out for the outsize ice cream cone logo and the Giovanni sign.  Tempt yourself away from the ordinary and let your taste buds explode with pleasure.  Ice cream is in a Soller world of its own…

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