TASTEBUDS: A Journey of Sweet Success in Santa Rosa County

In the heart of Santa Rosa County, Florida, in the town of Pace, Tastebuds Ice Cream Shop has become a beloved and delicious fixture in the community.

Tastebuds co-founder and current proprietor, Michael Hobbs, always wanted to open a local business in the community. Originally conceptualized as a trail mix bar with premium ice cream, Tastebuds took shape in less than 90 days.

Facing the demands of the market and customer preferences, Tastebuds shifted from its trail mix roots to focusing purely on homemade ice cream. Today, Tastebuds serves 32 flavors of ice cream, ​numerous specialty items, and over 14 of its signature “Freak” Shakes.

Michael and his family chose Pace as their home for its excellent school districts, quality of life, and overall community appeal. It was here that Tastebuds flourished, becoming a sweet treat in the local community.

When starting Tastebuds, Michael worked with the Florida Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at UWF. The SBDC played a crucial role in various stages of the business, from marketing initiatives with university students to navigating challenges like inflation and post-pandemic recovery. As Tastebuds looks toward the future, the SBDC continues to play an important support role in the business.

Reflecting on the experience in Santa Rosa County, Michael commended the community's support for local businesses. Tastebuds actively participates in community events, creating a mutual support path between the business and its patrons. Being visible not only as a business but as a family within the community has been an important part of growing the Tastebuds brand.

To aspiring entrepreneurs eyeing Santa Rosa County, Michael’s recommendation is clear: the Florida SBDC should be the first point of contact. Highlighting the importance of seeking guidance and acknowledging that "you don't know what you don't know," he encourages others to leverage the SBDC's expertise. The free support services are dedicated exclusively to supporting small businesses.

“Tastebuds is another great example of why our partnership with the Florida SBDC is so important to our future,” said Shannon Ogletree, Santa Rosa County’s economic development director. “Companies that are considering relocating or expanding to a community pay attention to how well you look after the existing businesses. SBDC does an amazing job of helping small companies on their journey to success.”

As Tastebuds continues to be a home of sweet treats in Santa Rosa County, its success shows the power of adaptation, community engagement, and the invaluable support of local resources like the Florida SBDC to enable it to thrive. Tastebuds' story is not just about ice cream; it's about the triumph of a small business that found its place and flourished in the heart of a community that values and supports its own.


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