Getting wicked in the ally: Frozen treat worth waiting
Wicked Slush has taken Petaluma by a frosty storm and for good reason. Their frozen treats are delicious and come in an endless array of flavor combos. However, the owners are really what make this new shop something special. Being long time locals, they know their town, and knew Wicked Slush would be a success. Having the idea was great, but they were also smart enough to know a great location when they found one. Tucked in to American Alley, just across from Petaluma Pie, Wicked Slush has already had a huge impact on the number of visitors to Helen Putnam Plaza.
The Pokornys are deeply rooted in Petaluma, not so much based on longevity but on how involved they are in the community. They moved here with their two young daughters Alexis and Miranda almost twenty years ago because, “we always wanted to live in the type of town that we enjoyed (and) visited while on vacation,” said Juliet Pokorny. “Petaluma was it for us.”
Juliet grew up in Garden Grove in north Orange County and went on to study theater and stage management in college. She eventually moved to San Francisco for work as a stage manager for American Conservatory Theatre, Berkeley Rep and Theatre on the Square, to name a few. It was in San Francisco where she met Dave Pokorny. He moved to the Bay Area from Illinois with his family when he was 8 years old and would go on to have a successful career in standup comedy, working as the house MC at Cobb’s Comedy Club where he opened for such stars as Ellen DeGeneres, Paula Poundstone and Jim Carrey. The two met in 1988 at comedy traffic school, where Juliet was a manager and Dave was a comedian teacher. Having a bit of a lead foot in my younger days, I actually attended one of Dave’s classes before I knew the Pokornys.
Both Alexis and Miranda were born in San Francisco, but the Pokorny family soon moved to Sonoma County for more affordable housing. They started in Rohnert Park before moving to Petaluma where they lived on the west side.
I first met the Pokornys when I served as the president of the board of Cinnabar Theater in the late 2000’s. The Pokornys had been in Petaluma for a few years at that point with Juliet commuting to Pixar and Dave staying home to take care of the girls. In 2007 Juliet retired from Pixar and had taken over the position of Development Director at Cinnabar. “Cinnabar was a palette cleanser,” explained Juliet. “It gave me an opportunity to go from corporate art to the purest form of art, which is live local theater.” With Alexis and Miranda growing older, Dave went back to his grocery store roots and started a 10-year career as a manager at Whole Foods.
Alexis and Miranda were actively involved in Cinnabar’s Young Rep program and Dave had just started producing one-night stand-up and spoken word events at Cinnabar. I saw the Pokorny family on a regular basis and was always struck by just how “Petaluma” they were. They were welcoming, encouraging and driven in everything they did and as a family unit were a genuine pleasure to be around. These traits will surely be what help Wicked Slush succeed.