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Keeping St. Louis Cool

A conversation with the coolest person in St. Louis, Tamara Keefe founder of Clementine's Naughty and Nice Creamery.

Growing up, the coolest person Tamara Keefe knew was her grandmother's best friend, Clementine. So, when it came time for Tamara to choose a cool name for her new ice creamery, there was only one name that naturally rose to the top. Clementine's Naughty and Nice Creamery has kept St. Louis cool since 2014. As we close out the first year of Clementine's opening in downtown Kirkwood, Tamara reflects on the power of ice cream.  

Talk about how Clementine's is keeping St. Louis cool.  

St. Louis is traditionally one of the cities where we get things ten years later than the coasts. But in the culinary world, Clemenentine's is keeping St. Louis cool and relevant. Whatever is happening in the hip culinary scene in New York or LA is happening here at the same time. One of our cone values, we use that term instead of core values, is that we are creators of cool. We make ice cream that is cold, frozen, and cool. But we also keep St. Louis cool. If you come in and get your kid a Clementine's sweatshirt, they will love wearing it to school. People proudly wear our merch and swag because we represent a cool thread that helped put St. Louis on the map nationally. Pappy's did it with barbecue, and Clementine's did it with ice cream.   

What are some of your coolest new flavors?  

We are constantly innovating. We are the only Microcreamery in Missouri, so we don't use industrial machines to mass produce our ice cream. We make our small-batch flavors with all-natural, high-quality ingredients and work with local farmers.  We try to be super inclusive, and we were the first ice cream shop in St. Louis to offer flavors like Challah Bread Pudding and Sufganiyot for the Jewish High Holidays. For all holidays, we offer Vegan Sugar Cookies and Italian Smoky Fig. Our Peppermint Andy flavor is the result of a cool collaboration between Andy Cohen and me. 50% of the profits from that flavor benefit Doorways, an interfaith non-profit organization that improves the quality of life and health of people affected by HIV/AIDS. 

Do you have any cool new gift items for the holidays?  

We are very thoughtful about giving our customers an incredible experience. This year we are launching S'mores and mini tabletop bonfire pits. This is perfect for date nights, Christmas presents, hostess gifts, the person who has everything, or the person who loves St. Louis. No one remembers a bottle of wine someone brings to a party. But everyone remembers the person that brings Clementine's ice cream.  

As you reflect on the past year, what were some of your proudest accomplishments?  

I'm proud that we expanded our team. We opened the Kirkwood location last November. I'm proud of that location because it was important to the people who owned the building to pass that space on to someone who would offer a frozen dessert. I am proud to honor what that family built over two generations. We love being in the heart of the communities we serve.  

 I'm proud that we've acquired our new production facility in North St. Louis. We needed to expand to a larger building with more freezer space, and we found this building. It requires a massive and expansive build-out, but I couldn't imagine doing it anywhere else than the city of St. Louis. It is on us as business owners to make the investment decision as we grow our businesses to move the needle and actually make those choices. I wanted to make our product in the city where it all started. If our city is going to improve, we must be willing to make those investments. We are a real business that offers our employees benefits, a 401k, healthcare, profit sharing, travel grant ($1500 for full-time employees), and a 30-day sabbatical after three years of service, which is more than any other business our size offers. And, much more than other businesses our size. We create a direct impact on the community in a positive way. That's the power of ice cream.   

What's on the horizon for 2023?  

We'll open the production facility and three to four more locations. And we're getting ready to move into Kansas City in 2024. We are open to the universe and the opportunities that come our way. Now, I have to figure out how to fund our growth and expansion. We have to have a bake sale!  

 
 

What do you want your legacy to be?  

I want people to know that I love St. Louis so much that I built Clementine's to give it back to them. Clementine's is my love letter to the city. I moved to St. Louis from California, and within six months of being here, I fell in love with this city. Without St. Louis, I could have never followed my dreams, and I live it every day. 

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