The name Hapus Real Dairy Ice cream came into being in May 2008. However the history of the ice cream; the business and the product it represents is far older than that.
Its goes back to an Italian man named Primo Bernie who came over from Northern Italy after the war and settled in the village of Machen. He began making traditional Italian ice cream and selling it around the area from a hand cart. In the 1960’s the business was taken over by Sandra and Bruno Minoli who continued making traditional Italian ice cream from a small factory in Forge road in Machen. Minolis ice cream was well known in the local area in the 1970’s and 80’s, selling ice cream from vans and a small trailer at the front of Caerphilly castle.
In the late eighties, Sandra and Bruno, who had been splitting their time between Italy and Britain, decided to sell their business and return to Italy to live. Meanwhile Lewis and Sue Richards had been thinking about an alternative business to their milk round for some time and it was Glanmor Evans, the local baker, who first suggested that Lewis and Sue think about buying the Minoli’s ice cream business.
In 1988, the Minoli family moved back to Italy, and Lewis and Sue Richards began producing ice cream from the factory in Forge row. Luckily, Sandra’s uncle Geneo stayed behind and was very helpful in advising Lewis and Sue about how to make ice cream! Things were not easy for the Richards family in the beginning, while they had plenty of business experience; having been self employed for most of their working lives they had not had any experience of making ice cream. The couple worked extremely hard in those early years to survive and by 1991 the business was very different indeed, Lewis and Sue had moved the ice cream factory from the little house in Machen and had converted the old coach house at the farm into a new ice cream factory. As Lewis had been firstly a farmer and then a milk man for twenty years, his knowledge and experience of milk products made it natural for the couple to start producing a dairy ice cream. They perfected the recipe at the kitchen table, with family members, trades men, basically any one who came any where near them, acting as guinea pigs and taste tasters until they had perfected the recipe.
In 1995 and 1996 they entered the ice cream in the Ice cream Alliance National Ice Cream competition, and it won the ‘Champion of Champions’ silver challenge cup, to make it the best ice cream in Britain!!! Minoli’s have continued to enter the national icecream competition and always scored very highly but had not managed to scoop the top award again, until 2010, when they became the only ice cream company in Britain to have won Champion of Champions three times!
Lewis had always said that making good ice cream not rocket science, if you put good ingredients in, then you get a good product out, so the main secret of the ice cream’s success is that we never compromise on ingredients, we use the best that is available. (Of course there are a few trade secrets that go into creating the real creamy taste and consistency but we are not telling on that one!!!)
Instead of selling ice cream on the roads Lewis and Sue carved out a market for them selves selling at local and national shows. They have been the sole suppliers for the National and Urdd Eisteddfods, and The Royal Welsh Show, and for the last 14 years they have a very successful parlour under the grandstand at the Royal Welsh show. They also had small units selling ice cream behind the check outs at the B&Q stores through out south Wales. This will be their 22nd year in the ice cream trade and while they still sell ice cream at the Royal Welsh show and a few of their ‘favourite’, events, having achieved all they set out to do, are now moving into retirement.
Sian and Richard still sell the same high quality dairy ice cream that Sue and Lewis developed but they decided to change the name for a number of reasons, firstly as Sue and Lewis are still trading, and it makes the situation easier to manage. And also, they wanted the ice cream to have a Welsh name to reflect how they see the product; it is a Welsh, locally produced, ice cream.
Sian and Richard are very keen to keep to the Minoli’s formula for success; ‘strive to produce the highest quality you can.’ Whilst we feel fortunate that we begin trading a time when local is in vogue, (its great to be able to tell people that the food miles of the product they are buying can be measured in yards not miles!) the honest truth is that this would have been our business policy whenever we had decided to start. It is more a reflection of us, and our values and principals than anything else. We are absolutely committed to maintaining the standard of the ice cream; we are also committed to keeping the business small, local and family run. We are not empire builders and feel a strong desire to be of benefit with the work that we do. We aim to continue to do what Minoli’s has always done which is to build a strong business that supports and is supported by the community it serves.