Lorraine Featherston was in between carpentry jobs when her father, Ernie Grandinetti, let her know in 2020 that one of his buildings in downtown Tomball was available and could be used for their longtime dream of getting into the food business.
Lorraine had worked on restaurants, including Tejas BBQ, which gave her inspiration. But the building’s small space lent itself to a family-friendly space—and a training Lorraine took in Dallas with an Italian gelato company sealed the deal. Dottie’s opened its doors in May 2021.
“My dad said we should try to go all-natural, avoid the powder-based stuff,” Lorraine said.
Dottie’s gets its name from Lorraine’s grandmother, Dorothy Grandinetti. Dottie died in 2019, but Lorraine remembers her always encouraging her children and grandchildren to have fun.
“She had her 80th and 90th birthdays in [Las] Vegas because everyone could come out,” Lorraine said. “Everyone called her Dottie or Aunt Dot. We wanted to pay tribute to her.”
The gelato shop is usually a one-woman operation during the day with Lorraine handling the gelato preparation, supply and cleaning. Ernie, who also mentored her through her carpentry, helps to handle the finances and provides his input on the flavors and specialties.
Dottie’s rotates 12 flavors of gelato, and Lorraine constantly creates new ones. One of them includes a “turtle” of chocolate, caramel and pecans that was created by accident and turned into a customer favorite.
The heart of the gelato-making operation is the Emery Stevenson batch freezer in Lorraine’s kitchen. Taking 10-12 minutes per batch, the machine handles gelato, ice cream, and frozen yogurt, though Lorraine said she cannot even eat regular ice cream anymore.
She said her gelato stands out because of its creaminess, which comes from the slower rotation speeds the freezer uses compared to conventional ice cream.
Other offerings include coffee from Houston-based Katz Coffee and specialty sodas from Boots Soda. Dottie’s also combines a shot of espresso with a scoop of gelato to create the traditional Italian dessert affogato.
Although Lorraine moved away from carpentry to devote her time to Dottie’s, her skillset still comes in handy, she said. Together with her father, they transformed the building and built out the gelateria’s own tables. Even the scraps of the lumber for the tables went to good use—Lorraine made them into frames for pictures of her late grandmother.
“She used to say, ‘Go out and take the leap, and when you’re about to fall asleep, you’ll know whether your decision was right or not,’” Lorraine said. “And right now, I know this feels right for me."
411 W. Main St., Tomball
Hours: Wed.-Fri. noon-7 p.m., Sat. 11 a.m.-7 p.m., Sun. 1-6 p.m., closed Mon.-Tue.