What began as a rogue pop-up has become a permanent Wynwood fixture. Serendipity Creamery & Yogurt Café (421 NW 26th St., Miami) is the neighborhood's first artisanal ice-cream shop, offering kosher-certified ice creams, frozen yogurts, and sorbets.
The small Wynwood storefront, about the size of a large walk-in closet, is nestled between Zak the Baker and an office building. Owner Jessica Levison discovered the spot while exploring the area and has since called it her own.
"It was like a garage," she says, "no doors, exposed ceilings — but I liked it. So during Art Basel in 2014, I bought a freezer, added some graffiti, and started selling ice cream. I figured if I got busted, I'd just call it performance art."
Levison sold ice cream out of the "garage" for a few months before the building's landlord realized what was going on. "They were basically like, 'We don't know who you are, and you don't have a lease,'" Levison laughs. "But they loved the idea. They just wanted me to make an actual storefront."
After installing large glass doors, decorating the store's interior, and buying a permanent freezer, Weiss was ready for business. She officially opened in November 2015 and says she has received a great response from the neighborhood.
"This whole thing was really serendipitous itself," she says. "There was this little nook of nothingness, and I was like, 'Don't mind me — I just want to sell ice cream.' People have really been really excited about what we're doing."
The shop sells 16 flavors. Three to four are signature, two to four are vegan, and the rest are experimental and rotate every few days. The ice cream and all toppings, including marshmallows, cookie dough, and peanut butter cups, are homemade. "It's really fun for me since I make everything from scratch," she says. "And there's a high tolerance here for different, weird flavors. Some things are definitely hits and others are misses, but it's still a lot of fun to experiment. I'm always tinkering with recipes."
Salted caramel, pecan pie, and lavender orange, which are all signature flavors, are among Levison's bestsellers. But she says most of her flavors are in constant evolution. "What you see is never the perfect flavor," she says. "I'm always experimenting, which keeps the products fresh. What you see here, you can't get anywhere else."
When creating Levison's unique flavors, she uses local ingredients from places such as Panther Coffee, J. Wakefield Brewing, and Pincecrest Farmers Market as often as possible. "I'm trying to build a neighborhood vibe," she says. "That's really important to me."
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Levison, a lawyer by trade, has always enjoyed eating ice cream. Her Wynwood shop is Serendipity's second location — the original is in Surfside (9457 Harding Ave.), which opened eight years ago. "This whole thing started because there wasn't an ice-cream shop near where I lived," she says. "And I don't eat garbage, so I wanted to create something that was cleaner and simpler."
For now, Levison plans to continue crafting new flavors and debuting them at her store. "I think people are hungry for a well-made, Miami-based product," she says. "It's fun to support local businesses that are born and bred here. It's been a lot of work, but it's great to do something you believe in. Just open your mind to something delicious."
Serendipity is open Monday through Friday from noon to 6 p.m., Saturday from 7 to 10 p.m., and Sunday from 1 to 8 p.m. For more information, call 305-527-7162.
Follow Clarissa Buch on Twitter.