Charisse McGill never slows down.
Which really comes as no surprise if you have seen her around town or stopped at one of her French Toast Bites stands at Spruce Street Harbor Park or the Cherry Street Pier in Philadelphia.
Besides her nuggets of French toast (topped with whipped cream and various other toppings), McGill previously expanded into coffee and beer. Now, she has teamed up with Galen Thomas, owner of Cloud Cups, to create French Toast Bites Gelato.
“French Toast Bites has evolved so much over the past few years from just being a street food,” said McGill, who lives in Aldan and is the owner of Lokal Artisan Foods. “During on-set and height of the pandemic, I had to partner and pivot our way through it by extending the product line. The energy behind the products have inspired more products, like now the Gelato. I am proud to partner with a fellow Black-owned business and congrats to Cloud Cups on being named one of America’s top 50 gelatos by the Today Show.”
The smooth gelato that now comes in French Toast Bites Strawberry and French Toast Bites Stracciatella. (Photo courtesy of Ritchie D. King Jr. / @Dvvinci)
The new collaboration brings together two of the region’s celebrated award-winning Black-owned businesses for a new product collection that is a pivot for both businesses as both recover out of the pandemic. Cloud Cups is a local artisan gelato and sorbet company. The Today Show recently named Cloud Cups’ gelato top 50 in America. For Lokal Artisan Foods, the new French Toast Bites Gelato, in two flavors to start (Stracciatella and strawberry), is the most recent product for a company that started with an investment from the owner’s daughter’s lemonade stand at the Lansdale Farmer’s market, that then created a nationally recognized brand and collection that now includes French Toast Bites shakes, spice, beer, coffee and now gelato.
The gelato makes is available at Spruce Street Harbor Park, Cherry Street Pier, Pizza Brain, Manayunk Pizza and Ashley’s Deli — as well as at select local street fairs and festivals.
“Being able to create one-of-a-kind products with one-of-a-kind friends has always held a special place in my heart and this new gelato with Charisse’s French Toast Bites is definitely something special … it’s made with real French Toast Bites,” said Thomas.
French Toast Bites Gelato brings together tons of McGill’s French toast and Thomas’ unique blend. It is available in scoops and cones, as well as by the pint. The gelato is made with real French Toast Bites and French Toast Bites Spice, which is made special for Cloud Cups who then has created a creamy and smooth gelato that now comes in French Toast Bites Strawberry and French Toast Bites Stracciatella. The strawberry version is made with made with real French Toast Bites and infused with real strawberries. French Toast Bites Stracciatella features French Toast Bites blended smooth and mixed with shavings of chocolate throughout. The two flavor profiles mirror the most popular way McGill’s customers order French Toast Bites.
For this new collaboration and product line, McGill met Thomas through mutual friends. She tried Cloud Cups’ gelato and fell in love at first spoonful. The two companies also shared similiar vision and values. She also took note of the diversity of flavors and felt the two could make a top quality product they both could be proud of. They began the process of perfecting the recipe with real French Toast Bites and the French Toast Bites Spice.
What’s next for McGill and French Toast Bites?
“I’d really like to get into cereal,” McGill said.
French Toast Bites at Cherry Street Pier is located at 121 N. Columbus Blvd, Philadelphia. Hours are 4-10 p.m. on Fridays, and Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m.-8 p.m. French Toast Bites at Spruce Street Harbor Park is located at 401 S. Columbus Blvd., Philadelphia6. Hours are Monday-Thursday, 5-10 p.m., Friday 5-11 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.