Downtown Turlock’s newest business is an experience in itself as soon as you walk through the doors, from clouds of vapor floating out of bowls where made-to-order ice cream is created, to seating you can swing on while you eat delicious treats. Artificial turf and pulsing, bright lights adorn some walls, while artwork featuring an enormous canvas of roses sits center stage. If it seems random, you’re right — and that’s the point.
House of Random celebrated its grand opening on Aug. 2, joining Turlock’s booming downtown core in the recently-remodeled building that once housed Rainbow Fabrics. While the space in front of the new ice cream shop will soon house First and Main, a forthcoming restaurant from the owners of Bistro 234, House of Random was created by newlywed couple Berooni Babakolan and Brolin Babela when they noticed there weren’t many options for late night dining in downtown Turlock.
“We noticed that Turlock is growing — especially downtown Turlock — and what do people do on a Friday or Saturday night? They go out and drink or they go to hookah, and what’s associated with that is food,” Babela said.
With unique menu items like soft waffle cones filled with popcorn chicken, cups of Mexican-style corn and even ice cream-stuffed burritos with a cotton candy “tortilla,” House of Random truly lives up to its name while appealing to both late night crowds and families with a sweet tooth.
“If you’re on a good level drinking-wise at 11 o’clock at night, what it is that you crave? That’s what we thought about,” Babakolan said.
The true star of the show, however, is House of Random’s liquid nitrogen ice cream. The phenomenon isn’t available anywhere else in the 209, according to the couple’s research, with the nearest location that offers the distinctive dessert in Fresno.
The ice cream is exactly what it sounds like, taking the typical frosty treat and instead freezing it with liquid nitrogen right in front of customers’ eyes. The result is a smoother-than-normal ice cream that puts on a performance while being made, emitting huge clouds of vapor as the liquid nitrogen works.
Babakolan and Babela have put in years of practice and training in order to be certified to make liquid nitrogen ice cream, they said, selling the product at farmers markets and via catering in order to perfect their technique.
“Just eating the ice cream is wonderful, but seeing the ice cream being made is a show that you’ve got to see at least one time, just to see what it’s all about,” Babela said.
“The reaction is very amusing; it’s always people walking past, and then they pause and think, ‘What is this cloud of smoke?” Babakolan added. “There’s a lot of excitement. Then once they actually try the product, that’s when you really win them over.”
Using liquid nitrogen to make the ice cream provides a much quicker freezing process, she explained, which eliminates ice crystals that can often give regular ice cream a crunchy texture. The flavors are made from scratch, with Babakolan and Babela adding in fruits, candies or whatever a customer’s heart desires in order to create the perfect taste.
As Stanislaus State graduates, the couple is excited to bring something new and exciting to Turlock, they said. They became business owners after realizing nine to five jobs just weren’t their cup of tea, and had some words of advice for college graduates who want to make a life for themselves without having to search for jobs outside of the 209.
“You’re young. Take the biggest risks that you can take at this point. That was our mentality,” Babakolan said. “We were scared, but said we’re still young and we’re going to take a risk. Give it a try, whatever it is.”
They hope their new downtown shop, with it’s exciting décor and playground-like seating, can serve as a place where all ages can enjoy some ice cream and have fun while doing so. Every wall serves as the perfect backdrop for a photo — something that was intentional on the couple’s part, seeing as the world is ruled by social media.
“We designed the store the way we did for people to have an experience from the second they walk in to the second they leave,” Babela said. “I liked the idea of bringing something like this to the 209 because I was in those shoes, wanting things to do. I wanted something fun, and so I was excited to bring that for our people.”
“Turlock deserves something fun like this,” Babakolan said.
House of Random is located at 80 S. First St. in Turlock. Its hours of operation are 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Sundays. For more information, contact House of Random at 209-277-4040.