ShakeDown Ice Cream Shop Shaking It Up On Geary

The city's many ice creameries have new competition in the Tenderloin, as new shop ShakeDown, which opened on Geary between Larkin and Hyde three months ago, is now serving up homemade, organic, local and seasonal ice cream to the neighborhood.

835 Geary St. was formerly home to Little Bird coffee shop, which shuttered in 2011. A friend of ShakeDown owner Jeffrey Mann told him about the space, but at the time ShakeDown had a name and not much else. Jeff and his business partner Paul Moore were in the early planning stages, and not quite ready to pull the trigger on a location yet. However, once they heard that Three Twins (which had been temporarily forced out by a fire in Lower Haight) was looking at the space, they hopped on it (update, 5/29: Three Twins cofounder Neil Gottlieb says the company had not looked at this space).

Two-and-a-half years later, after an extensive renovation and months of recipe testing, ShakeDown opened its doors. 

(Photos: Nuala Sawyer/ Hoodline)

The founding pair have an extensive background in food. Jeff has a degree in Holistic Nutrition, and was an organic farmer for 10 years (farming everything from tobacco to a unique strain of heirloom tomatoes). Paul is from a family of chefs, and Jeff cites his sensitive palate as one of ShakeDown's greatest assets. Both are committed to quality ingredients at every step of the ice cream-making process, and they make everything, from sprinkles to sauces, in-house. 

ShakeDown's kitchen. 

ShakeDown's menu—featuring everything from ginger sesame ice cream to French roast coffee—can be credited largely to Amy Pearce, a pastry chef who previously worked at both Gather and Verbena (now Reverb). Pearce describes the team's philosophy as a “garden to counter” system, and says they've traveled to the local farms from which they source ingredients to meet the farmers and learn more about their produce.

With this in mind, the menu is constantly evolving, and often changes seasonally. Jeff says that so far ShakeDown has 60 "tried and true" flavors down, and hopes to reach 100 by July. The ice cream shop's signature and most popular flavor is Jacker Crack, a take on cracker jacks, but with toasted popcorn, homemade peanut brittle, and dulce de leche ice cream. 

At any given time, 10 ice cream flavors are in the case, with 9 or 10 more in the prep area for smoothies and shakes. Jeff cites the Banana Split as one of his favorite shakes, which comes with vanilla, chocolate and strawberry ice cream, chocolate and strawberry sauce, banana, crushed peanuts and whipped cream. A 16oz cup costs $9. 

Flavors rotate daily, with some classics consistently on offer.

Though only a few months old, ShakeDown is getting attention, as evidenced by the ice cream shop's stellar Yelp reviews. Future plans involve selling pints in mason jars, which should happen next month. The shop also participates in the once-a-month Open Late on Larkin event, and the owners are considering featuring artists' work in the shop as well.

ShakeDown is open from noon to 11pm on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, and from noon to midnight on Friday and Saturday. On Tuesdays, the shop is closed to the public for a "kitchen day" where recipes for the coming week are created and sampled by the team.

Mary Kay Chin contributed reporting to this story. 

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