Owner, Batch Microcreamery
Before Rick Pongracz opened the Batch Microcreamery in the Downtown Allentown Market, he was working in a corporate job. But he was always making ice cream.
In addition to his day job, Pongracz would attend culinary school in his free time, and spent over a decade making ice cream as a hobby. He’d give it away for free to family, friends, and co-workers, and would constantly hear the same thing: “You need to open up a store!”
He didn’t feel ready for that, not at first. But he was watching the city of Allentown transform around him, with new restaurants, storefronts, luxury apartments, and small businesses opening up as the once-fledging downtown neighborhood became alive once again. And he wanted to be a part of it.
“I knew I wanted to be in Allentown,” said Pongracz, who was born and raised in South Allentown. “I knew where I wanted to be. I know what the community here is all about; I know how great it is. And now I’m running a business that I absolutely love in my hometown.”
Batch Microcreamery was one of the first merchants to be announced when the Market opened its doors in September 2019. Located in a 12,000 square-foot space on the city’s ArtsWalk, the market includes nine bays for local and regional food merchants offering high-quality, fast-casual food and drink.
Other merchants include a start-up artisan pizza concept, a family-owned craft distillery, an authentic Korean bowl concept, and a restaurant helmed by celebrity chef Robert Irvine, known for such Food Network programs as Dinner: Impossible and Worst Cooks in America.
But Pongracz knew his passion was for ice cream. Batch offers premium, hand-crafted desserts in a theme inspired by the ever-popular microbrewery concept. One of the primary goals of the Microcreamery, he said, is to provide a family friendly environment where people can make memories that will last forever.
“Ice cream, it’s more than just a dessert to me; it’s a feeling,” Pongracz said. “Everybody that gets ice cream, they’re happy, right? Whether you’re with your son, your daughter, your niece or nephew, your significant other, your grandfather, whoever. You come, and it’s a special moment, you have a smile on your face. I’m serving smiles, literally, and that’s the best part about it.”
When Pongracz left his old job, he heard a lot of his co-workers say: “You quit corporate to do this?” But he hasn’t looked back since. He’s thrilled to be a part of Allentown’s comeback story, and he thinks the key ingredient to the city’s success has been it’s people
“We live in such a diverse little city here, that it makes our community great,” he said. “We have different cultures, different walks of life, and that’s what we’re about. That’s what Allentown is.”
Live like a local:
Favorite flavor of Batch ice cream:
Madagascar bourbon vanilla, with cookie extreme being my second favorite
What’s Allentown’s hidden gem?
The people. I see a lot of people here and if you just say “hi” to somebody, they’ll say “hi” back. It’s not like that everywhere and it’s kind of cool.