In the 40 minutes I spent talking to Hallie Meyer, the owner of Caffè Panna, a Gramercy Park ice-cream and coffee shop, she tried a new mango nectar from one of her vendors, completed a phone order, greeted a chef she’s collaborating with, updated her team that a broken ice-cream machine had been fixed, gave me a tour of the business’s kitchen, and made me two ice-cream specials. The first was a strawberry soft serve drizzled with olive oil. The second was the daily sundae special—a swirl of triple berry and vanilla ice cream topped with homemade berry compote, ginger streusel, candied pie crust, and raspberry panna, a lightly sweetened, freshly whipped cream typically served atop a scoop of gelato in Italy.

“I’m a little strapped for time,” says Meyer, 31. This feels like an understatement. On top of running the shop, Meyer and her husband, James Campbell, welcomed their first child seven months ago.

As the daughter of Danny Meyer, the New York restaurateur and Union Square Hospitality Group C.E.O., who founded Gramercy Tavern, Shake Shack, Daily Provisions, and Eleven Madison Park, Hallie always dreamed of starting her own restaurant. Cooking was “in the D.N.A. of what we did as a family,” she says.

Caffè Panna serves seven classic flavors, from vanilla to stracciatella, as well as seasonal sundaes.

Caffè Panna, which she opened in 2019, is her first food venture. There’s always a long line of people waiting to try her ice cream. Meyer’s days are about to become even more hectic. This weekend, she’s opening a second Caffè Panna location, in Greenpoint. “We desperately need it,” says Meyer. Up to 7,000 pints of ice cream are currently made each week in Caffè Panna’s overburdened basement kitchen.

Meyer started working in restaurants in high school. She spent the summer after her senior year in the kitchen at Community Table, a high-end, New American restaurant near her family’s home in Washington, Connecticut. In 2011, as a freshman at Yale, she launched a catering company in collaboration with the student-run farm.

Panna, a lightly sweetened, freshly whipped cream, is the house signature.

Meyer fell in love with gelaterias after college, during a six-month stint at the American Academy in Rome. She joined the Rome Sustainable Food Project, the Alice Waters–founded kitchen that provides food for the academy. After late-night cooking shifts, Meyer would pack up leftovers and bring them to the employees at Giolitti, a nearby gelateria. In exchange, they gave her free ice cream. Meyer always asked for “doppia panna”—cream inside the cone, as well as all around the ice-cream scoop—prompting the staff to nickname her “Tripla Panna,” or triple cream.

In 2017, Meyer joined AmeriCorps, the community-service organization, where she spent a year working at the elementary school P.S. 154 in the South Bronx. She learned to make ice cream at home during her free time and began selling it at a nearby café. “People were coming back week [after] week,” she says. Meyer decided it was time to open her own business.

She returned to Italy in 2018 to work at an ice-cream shop and fine-tune her vision. She moved back to New York, then opened Caffè Panna in September 2019.

Up to 7,000 pints of ice cream are made each week in Caffè Panna’s kitchen.

The new Brooklyn shop will be bigger, with indoor seating and an actual office for Meyer. An expanded menu will include new items such as granita, an Italian shaved-ice dessert. In Brooklyn, she hopes to produce at least 10,000 pints of ice cream per week.

Because the Gramercy Park location is so small, Meyer usually has to reject requests to host ice-cream-making classes and events. “I’m excited to finally say yes to people,” she says.

When asked if this is just the starting point of her career, Meyer became serious. “Hopefully Caffè Panna is forever,” she says. “I’m ice-cream-obsessed.”

Jeanne Malle is an Associate Editor at AIR MAIL