Gelato Joy on raising their family and growing their business.
by Maria Allen
Photographs by Julia Cumes
Wellfleet is known for having a laid-back vibe, where kids are as likely to spend their afternoons surfing as hanging out at the skatepark. Local businesses and restaurants cater to a well-heeled summer clientele in search of experiences that capture the essence of summer.
For Sandy Valli and her husband Leif, who owns a property-management company, opening Gelato Joy Cafe in downtown Wellfleet was part of their long-term retirement plan. The parents of six children between the ages of nine and 24, their goal was to create a seasonal business where their teenagers could help out during the summer months, while allowing the parents free time in the off-season for traveling.
After a quiet opening in July, Gelato Joy quickly became a local favorite, serving up a rotation of fruity sorbets and decadent, all-natural gelato flavors, such as hazelnut, pistachio, and salted caramel. The cafe is located down a narrow alleyway, behind SICKDAY Surf Shop and the gift shop Drift. Valli’s brother-in-law, Olaf Valli, owns the building and is the brainchild behind the SICKDAY brand, a name that refers to a carpe diem mentality. (If the waves are good, surfers call in a “sick day” and head to the beach.) Ironically, fall and winter are the seasons when locals do the most surfing in this neck of the woods. “They’re the only ones that go toward the water during a storm,” says Valli.
”Each season has an awesomeness to it.— Sandy Valliwho is glad her children have been able to grow up surrounded by nature.
There is a timeless beauty to the Wellfleet landscape throughout the year, thanks in large part to the protected lands of the Cape Cod National Seashore. “Each season has an awesomeness to it,” says Valli, who is glad her children have been able to grow up surrounded by nature.
“Wellfleet is a great place to raise a family, as long as you’re willing to drive,” says Valli. Whether transporting her daughter Anika to ballet class or son Burke to crew practice further up Cape, Valli views car rides as a chance to spend more time talking with her kids. Similarly, being able to work closely with her older children at the gelato shop has been one of the biggest rewards. Her son, Tait, age 24, built custom countertops and outdoor benches for the cafe and her daughter, Kenna, age 19, handles their social media accounts and helps out as an evening manager.
Inspired by the multigenerational gelaterias in Italy, Valli hopes her family’s new business will help to bring other families together to share a sweet moment in their day. “We have a large family so we can’t always afford to all go out to dinner,” says Valli. “But we love to go out for ice cream together.”