The Batman and Mr. Potato Head of Valencia Street ice cream shop Xanath are gone, but in their place is a new Sicilian gelateria called Hila, and the newlywed owner has a real sweet story.
The organic, artisan ice cream shop Xanath at Valencia and Liberty Streets was probably as well known for its Darth Vader, Batman, and Mr. Potato Head in the window than for its varieties of vegan ice cream. But Xanath melted down during the pandemic, closing in the summer of 2022, though Xanath owner Juan San Mames still owns the building.
And the place is not necessarily remaining an ice cream shop, but will still offer very artisan sweets. Mission Local reported earlier this month the Xanath space was reopening as a Sicilian gelato shop called Hila, which opened last Thursday.
Hila owner Ilary Biondo ran a popular gelato store (gelateria) in Sicily, Italy, where she met her now-wife Cecilia Casarini. The two married last year, but Casarini remembers that Sicily shop, also a one-employee operation consisting solely of Biondo.
“The line was from the door to two blocks away, every single day,” Casarini tells Mission Local. “She was just doing everything, making the gelato, serving people."
Hila also offers coffee, cappuccino, and Italian pastries. That may help the shop stand out, because as Mission Local notes, there are nine ice cream shops in and around the Valencia Corridor.
Image: Hila via Facebook