What’s Up Doc? Part III: Saying goodbye
May 10, 2023
The farewell letter accompanied by an eviction notice on the Arroyo Grande Doc Burnstein’s doors has since been replaced. The classic Doc Burnstein’s sign painted on the building soon will be as well; a new ice cream legacy is taking over.
Rori’s Artisanal Creamery, a Santa Barbara-based and Italian-born company that makes unique flavors of “American gelato,” will be occupying the Doc Burnstein’s space and filling the ice-cream-shaped hole in the Arroyo Grande Village.
Rori’s existing locations are mostly in the Santa Barbara and Northern Los Angeles area, with Santa Barbara, Camarillo, Montecito, Carpenteria, and Santa Monica parlors. The announcement of the Arroyo Grande parlor was followed by announcements of Ventura and Los Angeles locations via the company’s Instagram account.
Rori Travato is both the namesake and the backbone of the business, as she handcrafts every ice cream, cookie, and candy recipe used in production. She keeps her creative and production teams small, connected, and female-driven. Though Rori’s is expanding both up and down the California coast, the company strives to maintain its family-owned, small business feel, arguably a perfect fit for the vacancy in the Arroyo Grande village.
However, the journey to Rori’s taking over Doc Burnstein’s wasn’t exactly a linear one, with a lot of uncertainty for the community, former employees, and shareholders involved in the process.
In the weeks following the closure of the Arroyo Grande parlor, David Long reached out to his former employees.
“[David Long] reached out to us and he was like, ‘Hey, guys, so I know that I haven’t been responding to anything, and we’re getting a new owner. So you guys will get your money back once the store reopens. And he’s looking to potentially hire some of you back,’” Capri Carrington (‘25), said. “So that’s interesting, especially not having any correspondence wit
h him prior.”
Long sent the message on February 16th, 2023, explaining to employees included in the text thread, “I’m sorry about this whole situation. I’ve tried hard to avoid it, but in the end, I failed.” He also claimed that he was “planning to sell the business to a new owner in the next couple of weeks,” and that the money from the sale would go first to the paychecks, and that the new owners would likely be interested in rehiring the former employees.
Carrington was pleased to receive this news, having enjoyed her time with Doc Burnstein’s and looking forward to continuing her time with the business, even if under a new name.
Even after receiving the text, and waiting for the money to come through, the Doc Burnstein’s crew was met with nothing but silence until late March.
It wasn’t until about two full months after the parlor initially closed, that Long finally contacted his former employees about the sale and it was announced that Rori’s Artisanal Creamery would be occupying the space.
On March 21st, 2023, Long messaged his former employees about a sale taking place within the next few weeks that would provide the crew with their missing checks and potentially new jobs. On April 1st, he told them that the “parlor has been sold, and the money for paychecks should arrive on Monday [April 3rd].” He then followed up with individual employees about their payments on April 7th, prior to mailing out paychecks.
On April 13th, Rori’s Artisanal Creamery announced on Instagram that they would be opening a parlor in the village, paying homage to Doc Burnstein’s in their announcement and declaring their shared values. There were signs posted on the doors announcing the Rori’s takeover in the village at the same time, followed by announcements of hiring and recruitment taking place, though the former Doc Burnstein’s employees were provided a direct line of contact to the Rori’s CEO about potential employment at the parlor.
Arroyo Grande may be sad to see such a meaningful community business close its doors, especially after a confusing and tumultuous end to its tenure, but fear not, as ice cream will soon be returning to the village.
Long declined to comment on the record for the Eagle Times.