FoMu Expands Into the Back Bay

By Beth Treffeisen

Standing out amongst other ice-cream stores along Newbury Street, Ben & Jerry’s, Emack & Bolio’s and Amorino Boston – FoMu an alternative ice cream shop has popped up for the season offering dairy-free ice cream treats at 177 Newbury Street.

It was almost six years ago when founder Deena Jalal along with her husband Hin Tang were thinking of life changes.  Both of them had mediocre jobs and wanted to start a family but, they both had deep concerns about going to work everyday to a job that they didn’t love and have to leave a family to do so.

After Jalal got to thinking about her favorite things, food, people and ice cream, it was a no-brainer, and they sought out to create a new type of ice-cream shop.

“It was simple at the time because it was amazing that we could have an ice-cream shop and at the same time be in the community,” said Jalal.

When they began looking into what kinds of ingredients would go into it they quickly learned that many ice creams begin with a manufactured base that is filled with chemicals.

In addition, they couldn’t find any good sustainable good quality dairy to supply their ice cream either. They also worried about alternatives like soy products that have chemicals as well.

After some searching they landed on using coconut milk.

“Coconut – it’s so amazing, it’s magical,” said Jalal. “It has a lovely floral element to it and it turns magically and comes out in a gelato like texture.”

As the couple was looking for a local area shop, their agent put them in touch with a man selling his commissary in Watertown. They learned the traditional methods of making ice cream but then applied and tweaked it to make their very own.

After selling their product successfully in vegetarian and vegan stores, they sought out their own location in Union Square, Allston that sports a number of vegetarian friendly restaurants.

“It was well-renowned from day one,” said Jalal.

Now, the store has expanded to Jamaica Plain and the South End. Their newest location is the pop-up on Newbury Street that goes until December 31.

In the past, they have had pop ups in Fenway, Cambridge and at 144 Newbury Street.

“It is fun to be in the different neighborhoods and see how different they are,” said Jalal. “In Allston you have hipsters and young turn-outs who are more indulgent and care about sustainability or are a vegan.”

In Jamaica Plain she said customers are more health oriented with families and like the pure ingredients or have someone with allergies. In the South End she said it is pretty diverse – you have young families and an older population who are looking for old fashion ice-cream flavors.

“Newbury Street is like a destination,” said Jalal. “It has a lot of tourists from all over the world and has less of a neighborhood crowd.”

She said it is fun to have different type of people but also hard because you don’t see the same people every day who live in the neighborhood.

In addition, she said, “Newbury Street has a lot of eye stimulation everywhere,” which makes it harder to get people’s attention.

Currently, they are still waiting for signage from the City and the colder weather that has taken over most of May tends to stop people from walking up and the street. The other pop up at 144 Newbury Street was easier to get people in due to the corner location and large windows.

“People would look in and be curious and walk in,” said Jalal. “But this is a more realistic space on Newbury Street and it is going to take a little extra time to entice people to come in.”

For now, Jalal is looking to see if a permanent location on Newbury Street is worth it and is looking into expanding their deliveries to re-sellers such as Whole Foods. Right now their deliveries are limited to New England and she hopes to get the packaging right to be able to send it further.

On Newbury Street, she said, “It will be interesting to see what the neighbors will like here.”

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