We had the good fortune of connecting with Kris Warren and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kris, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
Honestly, the spark that started An’s was the idea of working with my friends. I grew up with Travis Bailey (CMO & co-owner) and he’s been my best friend for as long as I can remember. He is an attorney and just an all-around smart and clever guy. I’ve been friends with David Aguilera (executive chef & co-owner) since just after I graduated college at UCSD and moved to Europe for a couple of years. He has made gelato for some of the best restaurants and chefs in Italy, Spain, & France. Lastly, I met Jimmy Blalock (CFO & co-owner) through Travis when they were in law school together. Jimmy is one of those people that you just click with quickly. I admire his work ethic and big personality. The idea of working with my best friends, especially as we get older, get married, have kids, and move away, was really appealing to me. I felt like it would keep us closer as time might try to grow us apart. And it’s worked. I speak with all of them on a regular basis and no matter how busy our lives get, we are all tethered together by An’s.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
About An’s & what makes us different: At An’s Dry Cleaning we really only try to do two things: 1. create the best gelato in the world; and 2: create an incredible customer service experience from the moment you look us up online to when you take your last bite of gelato. That experience is everything. It’s part of the reason we decided to call our shop a dry cleaner – it makes it more fun. We also give everyone a sample of every flavor on the menu (when we’re not in a pandemic). Our menu is small, 7 flavors, and we arrange them in a specific order by ingredient and how heavy the flavor is. Everyone starts with an off-menu palate cleanser made from ginger and lime. Then you work your way through our progressive menu before making your final decision on what to get. I don’t think you will find an experience like that in any other gelato shop in the world. And definitely not in any other dry cleaner… How did we get where we are: It really started with the gelato. 15 years ago, I was lucky enough to meet David and that he became an incredible gelato consultant for most of Western Europe. His gelato is served in Michelin restaurants and he’s made recipes for celebrity chefs to help bring their ideas to life. For years, he would come visit me in San Diego (he lived in Barcelona at the time) and we would day dream about opening a gelato shop here where the weather is warm all year round (in Barcelona, they would have to shut down gelato shops in the winter because it was so cold). At my day job, I manage and operate hotels & restaurants and I learned a lot about how to run a business from concepting to ongoing operations. That knowledge and experience was invaluable for us to open An’s. As were Travis & Jimmy – the other two owners. They are smart, clever, work hard, and two of my favorite people in the world. Then it was just about taking risks. I love taking risks in business. It’s part of why I wanted to own my own company. Beyond the risk of just opening your own business, it was a risk to call our gelato shop a dry cleaner. It was a risk to only serve 7 flavors. It was a risk to not serve anything else – we don’t have water, soda, coffee, sandwiches, etc. I remember hours-long debates and everyone in the business that we were buying our machines from or consulting with telling us we were crazy. They said a concept like this wouldn’t work. But I am so proud that we carved our own path and took these risks.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
If my friend was visiting, I’d start our day up in North County and go for a run. Then stop at Cardiff Market and get one of their famous sandwiches and an apple bread pudding and go eat on the beach. Then we’d play golf at Torrey Pines or out in Coronado. For dinner, my absolute favorite restaurant is Fort Oak. Basically, our day would revolve around good food & being near the water.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I dedicate this shoutout to the other three owners of An’s. I couldn’t do it without them – Travis Bailey, David Aguilera, & Jimmy Blalock
Jim Sullivan Kris Warren