Nick Lemmer: The Sweet Spot

Austen Hufford/Daily
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Daily Staff Reporter
Published March 20, 2012

Nick Lemmer sits at a small metal table inside Iorio’s Gelateria working on his laptop as customers at an adjacent table chat over two small cups of gelato. Lemmer, with his stained shirt and scraggly beard, looks just like another customer.

But Lemmer actually runs this joint.

Lemmer, an Engineering junior, owns Iorio’s Gelateria with his sister Mary, a University graduate. The store offers hundreds of flavors that are shipped in weekly from a gelato chef in Lemmer's home town of Lansing.

Lemmer said the idea for the store started on a summer vacation to the New Jersey shore when his family would get Italian ice. He added that he and his sister missed Italian ice when they returned to Lansing.

“When we’d come back to Michigan we were like, ‘Where can you get it here?’ ” he said.

In 2004 they started operating a pushcart in the Lansing City Market — where local vendors sell products — selling Italian ice shipped from Philadelphia. In 2007, they opened their own stall in the market.

When he and his sister got to the University, he said they knew that, despite the obstacles of getting health permits and financing, they wanted to open a gelato shop.

“It was kind of a dream of ours and we were gonna do anything we could to make it happen,” Lemmer said.

Iorio’s opened this summer on East William Street and he said it attracts steady business, especially among the younger demographic.

“We’re still open (and) we’re not losing money,” Lemmer said. “We’re hoping to have a big summer … obviously the winter was a little slow because of the weather, but we are starting to see it pick back up now with the warmer weather.”

He said it’s tough to manage his responsibilities as a student, business owner and head student manager of the women’s basketball team. He added he doesn’t have a definite role and the store functions through the cooperative efforts of its 16 employees.

“I’m very busy… and I like it. I operate best when I have a lot of things to do,” Lemmer said. “Sometimes it gets overwhelming, but that’s why we have such a great team here… without them, I wouldn’t be a 20-year-old owning a business.”

He said he doesn’t know what’s in store for the future of Iorio’s and how he will be involved with the business.

“I’m not sure what I want to do with my life right now, but Iorio’s is definitely a major part of it and we’ll see if there is a large future in it,” Lemmer said.

But for the moment, Lemmer said he couldn’t be happier with his role at Iorio’s.

“I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”