By John Morton
In a measure to preserve more than 40 years of history at its Siesta Key Village location, the ice cream parlor formerly known as Big Olaf Creamery has finally settled on what one could consider a compromise, but certainly effective, new name: Olaf’s Siesta Village Ice Cream.
New signage at the business, located at 5208 Ocean Blvd., features the new name. After Big Olaf’s production plant in Sarasota was shut down in July 2022 due to a deadly listeria outbreak, the Siesta location was one of many franchisees to no longer carry the product, instead switching to the Yoder’s Southern Creamery brand.
As a result, all branding associated with Big Olaf was directed to be removed. After being closed for about a week for cleaning, the Siesta location operated for months without a name. Then, it temporarily switched to Siesta Village Ice Cream before settling on the name that still featured the word “Olaf,” known to so many longtime patrons, and dropping the word “Big” to avoid a possible trademark issue.
The business’ owner declined any comment, manager Caitlyn Bray said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in November announced its investigation into the outbreak had been concluded. It caused 28 illnesses, including one death and a miscarriage, during a span of 20 months. A wrongful lawsuit was filed against Big Olaf by the family of former Sarasota resident Mary Billman, who died Jan. 29, 2022, after eating Big Olaf ice cream at its Bahia Vista location. A jury in January of 2023 awarded the family $4 million.
Big Olaf was presented with information of concern from the CDC on July 1, with Big Olaf responding in part that the accusations were “speculative” and that the company was being unfairly targeted.
However, health inspections first conducted July 7 at the Cattleman Road production facility resulted in positive tests for listeria among nine of the samples collected. Big Olaf then issued a recall of its products on July 13.
Further inspections took place between July 19 and Sept. 1. On Dec. 9, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration notified Big Olaf that it had not addressed violations outline in a report relating to those inspections, warning the company it had 15 days to act. The results of that warning have yet to be reported.