19 Oct Yael Lustmann | Sweet Crush
Yael Lustmann has a crush, and like the first joyous emotions of a teenager in love, she has a pressing passion to tell everyone she knows about it.
What were the circumstances that led you to open Sweet Crush?
I have three little girls and when I feed them I look for three things: tasty, healthy and low calories. I could never find a dessert that would hit on all counts. When I gave them ice cream I felt guilty about the calories, when they ate frozen yogurt they always got a stomach ache afterwards and it was always covered with lots of toppings. The shaved ice experience always left their mouth red and blue for two days. I had been a corporate lawyer for many years but had always entertained an entrepreneurial escape. One day I decided to try and create a dessert that I could gladly feed my kids and even enjoy myself.
What is it exactly, and what will we find at Sweet Crush?
Sweet Crush, our dairy product, is naturally flavored milk, shaved into silky ribbons of ice, or as the kids like to call it, shaved ice cream. Sweet Crush comes in classic flavors like vanilla, chocolate, coconut, peanut butter and espresso.Pure Crush, our vegan non-dairy product, is fruit juice shaved into soft snowflakes. Pure Crush comes in exotic flavors like strawberry lemonade, raspberry, mojito, passion fruit, lychee, and my favorite, grapefruit ginger.Both products are truly all natural. That means none of the syrups, powders, and other artificial ingredients that you find in frozen yogurt and other shaved ice. You can actually pronounce the ingredients list. Both products have low calorie counts. The customized store design is an integral part of the Sweet Crush experience. The design integrates a visual component into the customer’s culinary experience. The snowflake cutouts in the perforated walls perfectly match the snowflake design of the dessert. Add to that the alternating color scheme that shines through the cutouts and, voila!, we have a beautiful ice palace in which to enjoy a beautiful ice dessert.
How does it compare to frozen yogurt and can we expect to see more of this phenomenon?
It’s totally different. Sweet Crush almost has the richness of ice cream but without the calories, so it leaves you feeling lighter. By contrast, frozen yogurt saves on calories but loses the taste and uses a ton of artificial ingredients. The frozen yogurt market is clearly saturated—“been there”, “done that”—and consumers that value health and quality are ready to try something new. That’s right where Sweet Crush comes in. Also, we offer a lot of non-dairy options, whereas frozen yogurt shops typically offer none. That’s great for lactose-sensitive and vegan consumers.
What is the story about you catering at the Oscars ceremony?
When I first opened I was approached to cater a charity event, C-CAP, careers through culinary arts, which provides scholarships for kids. I am a sucker for education for kids so couldn’t possibly refuse. Although I was ‘a bit’ overwhelmed, I decided to do it. We took our shavers and went to the event. When we set up in the kitchen, Sherry Yard, at the time the executive pastry chef for WP, came into the kitchen and tasted our product. She liked it so much that she invited us to cater events at Spago Beverly Hills, and then….to join them at the table at the Governors Ball. We served our silky ribbons of espresso, shaved ice and snowflakes of blood orange. Like most things in life, rather random.
Who is your own celebrity crush?
The Clemmons Twins!
What advice do you have for people wanting to start a new business?
Aim for the stars, that is the only way you will ever get there. You can always scale back but you have to start with your dream.
What is your proudest achievement?
When kids say ‘no thanks’ to toppings on their ice. Which is not to say my toppings aren’t good—they’re great! But when they walk out with the strawberry lemonade, and without the M&Ms, I truly feel that we accomplished something.
What are your favorite places in Brentwood?
For restaurants, I have to say Pizzicotto and Katsuya. Very different in style but both amazing. I can’t do without the farmers market on Gretna Green. I’ve always taken my kids on the weekend so it was only natural that Sweet Crush will get a stand to be part of it.
Sweet Crush, 11753 San Vicente Blvd. CA 90049
firstname.lastname@example.org T: (310) 820-0607
(North side of San Vicente between Montana & Barrington, next to Whole Foods) Sun-Thurs: 11:30 am–11:00 pm. Fri-Sat: 11:30 am-12:00 am.