Leona’s Ice Cream Sandwiches

In 2013, Katherine (Katie) Heldstab and Christa Puskarich started Leona’s Ice Cream Sandwiches. They wanted to put an artisanal spin on one of America’s favorite indulgences. Bridgeway Capital recently supported their endeavor with a working capital loan. As a women-owned business looking to expand their operations in Wilkinsburg, Leona’s was a good fit for Bridgeway’s mission-driven lending.

“The love Pittsburgh has for handcrafted food made by local companies is incredible, it’s the perfect time for us to grow our business”

– Katie Heldstab, Co-owner Leona’s Ice Cream Sanwiches

Dessert Differentiated

The culinary entrepreneurs offer an inspired selection of ice cream sandwiches, including plum ice cream on a ginger molasses cookie and cherry almond ice cream on a chocolate cookie. In addition, Katie and Christa add a natural enzyme to eliminate 85-90% of the lactose from their 100% dairy products, making the treats accessible to a wider variety of consumers. It is a competitive edge that has increased the popularity of Leona’s products, and justified the growth of business operations.

“Increasingly people want to know where their food comes from and ice cream is no exception. The love Pittsburgh has for handcrafted food made by local companies is incredible, it’s the perfect time for us to grow our business,” commented co-owner Katie. “The financing from Bridgeway will help us purchase the equipment we need to meet the growing demand.”

Network of Clients

Bridgeway’s customers are becoming increasingly helpful in identifying other like-minded entrepreneurs that need financing. Foodie businesses, including markets, cafes, and small batch producers, can be key partners in community revitalization. “Leona’s is transforming the former Smith’s Bakery on Penn Avenue in Wilkinsburg into a business that caters to 21st century tastes,” observed Bridgeway’s President and CEO, Mark Peterson. “It’s a great example of how Pittsburgh’s exciting culinary culture can impact low-income areas.”