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COVID-19 Couldn't Stop Ellie Southworth and 2 dedicated employees

Honey lavender might not be the most popular ice cream flavor, but it made me realize exactly how delightful and carefully crafted Genuine Ice Cream is.

The honey (real, not a flavor) is bright, and the lavender (flowers steeped in the milk) carries a light floral taste. It’s a lovely combination with the creaminess of the base vanilla.

If your taste in ice cream runs along more traditional lines, never fear. Genuine Ice Cream flavors include Vanilla, Dark Chocolate, Salted Caramel, and Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk, to name a few. And these are all delicious in their own small batch, handcrafted way.

Ellie Southworth started out as production manager in 2017 for what was then a wholesale business. In 2018, she became general manager to oversee a new shop, creating the menu and hiring chefs.

Ellie Southworth shares her favorite ice cream with a customer.

In spring of 2020, two momentous things happened: Ellie became the owner of Genuine Ice Cream, and enclosed public gathering places like ice cream shops shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ellie and two employees decided to go ahead and use the Spartan trailer they had been operating out of seasonally outside the LARK Hotel and sell ice cream anyway.

“We ended up opening the trailer,” Ellie said, “and we were thinking, well, let’s see what happens. We’re outside, nobody has to come into the shop, it’s just window service. And people showed up in a really big way. So we hustled to get more staff hired.”

“Obviously, there were many, many layers of challenges associated with that time,” Ellie said, “but we found that people were looking for a sense of comfort, and ice cream provided a really good, affordable luxury. And we were able to keep going strong through that time, which I feel unbelievably lucky for, so I’m grateful to our customers.”

A permanent, year-round location opened in June 2020, while the trailer continued to serve customers at the hotel until September of that year.

Ellie and her staff now use an ice cream truck and ice cream carts to take their creamy treats to farmers markets (this year in Bozeman only), festivals, weddings, corporate events, birthday parties, and other special occasions. You can go to their website to get catering details.

There are two things that stand out about Genuine Ice Cream.

One is quality. Ingredients are from Montana where possible. Montana milk, real huckleberries (no blueberry fillers), house-made caramel. Take a close look at the colorful pint cartons and see a different drawing on each to depict Montana scenes.

The other is Ellie’s deep interest in giving back to the community.

“I believe that we as businesses have a responsibility to give back to causes that matter to us,” Ellie said. But she added that she gets countless requests for donations. “So what we’ve done is said, we can’t give to everyone, and we’d rather focus our efforts in a couple of areas that are meaningful to us and try to make a bigger impact in those areas instead of sprinkle just a little bit to everybody. We really try to keep our dollars within Montana and within the valley.”

But it’s not just about the money.

“We are a 2% for Conservation certified business, which means we’ve committed to donating one percent of our sales and one percent of our time to conservation issues. This means we’re not just writing checks, we’re showing up cleaning up trails and being a part of projects.”

You can get Genuine Ice Cream in Livingston at LuLu’s Montana Market, Town & Country, and FoodWorks. Or visit the Bozeman shop at 605 W. Peach Street. At LuLu’s and in Bozeman you can also purchase dairy-free ice cream made with a coconut cream base.

For charming photos and updates, go to Instagram #genuineicecream or the website at


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