Austin DeGroot and Lucas Morris have been best friends since the 5th grade. They’ve always dreamt about owning a business together and in November of 2021, that dream became a reality when they opened Vampire Penguin Sarasota, a dessert shop serving up irresistible, light and creamy desserts made from shaved snow. Shaved snow is unlike any other dessert around, according to DeGroot and Morris. “It’s extremely light and fluffy, almost like a cotton candy texture, but as it melts, it gets creamy just like ice cream,” they say.

The shop’s menu is loaded with customizable options with the most popular items being the Strawberry Cheesecake and S’moreos. The strawberry cheesecake consists of strawberry and vanilla shaved snow with graham cracker crumbs, fresh cut strawberries and cheesecake pieces all topped with white chocolate, condensed milk, and strawberry sauce. The S’moreos is made from a dreamy base of cookies and cream shaved snow, topped with graham cracker crumbs, oreo, marshmallows, and chocolate sauce. But the newest addition which debuted this summer, Strawberry Lemonade, is making a hard case as a personal favorite of both owners. This refreshing treat consists of strawberry and lemon shaved snow with fresh cut strawberries and strawberry sauce drizzle. The soon to be released root beer flavor also promises to be a big hit. A licensed company, the Vampire Penguin Sarasota store menu is completely unique to Sarasota and the Landings location. “We are all independently owned so our store is totally different from other stores. We just all share the same name,” says DeGroot. ”It helps to add creativity to our store and allows our store to be unique.”

Vampire Penguin is all the rage amongst local kids, but unlike many other frozen treats, it’s equally popular with Sarasota’s health-conscious grown-ups. Why? “It’s a lot healthier than ice cream,” the owners share. “Our regular portion size is 12 ounces. In this portion you can expect 50-75 calories and 8-5 grams of sugar. In that same portion of ice cream, there are around 700 calories and 72 grams of sugar. Not to mention that our snows are not like most as they aren’t flavored with syrups on top. Instead we grind all of our quality ingredients into the snow right in our store before freezing it. Couple all that with the fact that our snow is all gluten-free and 13 out of our 18 flavors are dairy-free, we have options for everyone!” Vampire Penguin is located at 4976 S Tamiami Trl, Sarasota, in the Landings Shopping Plaza, 941-923-8155.