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Hanover Business Spreads Love of Gelato
Published Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Left: Morgan Morano, founder. Right: A cone of gelato from Morano Gelato. Courtesy photos.

During the past seven years, Morgan Morano’s affinity for artisanal gelato has evolved from selling her own brand at a farmers market to a three-store franchise along the East Coast. The recipes she perfected at her flagship Morano Gelato store in Hanover are now satiating gourmands in Massachusetts and New Jersey, with no plans of slowing down.

Originally from New York, Morano spent part of her childhood in the Upper Valley with her mom, a Dartmouth College alum who remained in the area. After culinary school, Morano worked at several restaurants in New York and lived on and off in Italy.

It was during her time abroad that she stumbled upon a gelato shop that immediately hooked her sweet tooth. She spent a couple months apprenticing under a Sicilian gelato chef before returning home to launch a business of her own.

Morano decided to avoid the expense and competition of New York dining and instead set up shop at the Hanover Farmer’s Market in June 2010, moving her business to the back of Rosey Jekes Cafe in Hanover a month later as the popularity of her gelato increased. By spring 2011, Morano opened her own store on Main Street, offering 13 flavors made from scratch each morning as well as Italian espresso and hot chocolate.

The shop helped Morano spread her love of gelato and offer a late-night food option in Hanover. “Gelato has become a lost art in the day and age of fast food and quick service,” she says. “It’s nice to support something where we take our time and use fresh ingredients.”

After two successful years in Hanover, Morano decided to expand her brand beyond the Upper Valley. She sold the shop to a pair of couples under a licensing agreement in 2013 and began exploring the possibility of franchising. Her search led her two hours away to Chestnut Hill, an affluent village outside of downtown Boston, where she opened Morano Gelato’s second location in summer 2015.

“It made sense to expand into Boston since I wanted to franchise, and Chestnut Hill provided a unique opportunity to test out an urban market,” says Morano.

She officially launched the franchise in 2016 and signed her first contract in the summer with New York-based businessman Maurice Dayan, who opened Morano Gelato’s first franchised shop in New Jersey in June. All three stores now offer between 12 to 16 flavors daily from more than 200 seasonal recipes, a “Mobile Gelato” catering service, gelato cakes and take-out pints.

Earlier this year, the Hanover shop’s owners decided they were no longer interested in franchising and sold the location to new franchisees with Morano as a partner. Morano now splits her time between the Hanover and Chestnut Hill stores while also seeking new franchise partners. She views franchising as a means of finding qualified people to partner with and help spread her brand.

“Franchising has a negative connotation, but it can be anything you want it to be,” says Morano. “For me, it’s been a high-quality way to introduce ourselves to more communities.”

For more information, visit moranogelato.com.

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