One of the best decisions we have made in our business was to take advantage of an opportunity regarding the lease of an old frozen custard business.
Nana’s Frozen Custard was a well-loved brand during the time it had been open. If you ask someone in Hixson about Nana’s Frozen Custard before July 2017, you would get a response something like “I don’t understand why they went out of business, we loved Nana’s.”.
The best part was that Nana’s was what occupied our currently leased space for the entirety of its existence, so,
Nana’s was back, and the public was ecstatic!
Adding Nana’s Frozen Custard to our menu and daily operations completely changed our business last July. We went from mostly being in the red month after month with small moments of hope when we might break even one month, to actually being able to put some money back for the winter months.
We were shocked at the difference this addition made to our business!
A LOT of this new business was a result of an “Oh my goodness, Nana’s is back open – we have to go get some!” buzz. We have seen those numbers normalize this summer, but still…
Best. Decision. Yet.
So, What is Frozen Custard?
We get asked this question very often, so here are the facts. Frozen custard falls into the category of super premium ice cream.
So, all frozen custard is ice cream, but not all ice cream is frozen custard.
The main ingredients of ice cream are cream and sugar. Frozen custard has an additional ingredient – eggs.
Frozen custard also has a minimum milkfat inclusion of at least 8%, and very low overrun. Overrun refers to the amount of air which is whipped into ice cream as it is frozen.
Frozen custard has an overrun of 10% or less.
For all of you who really want to know the difference, here is a table for comparison. There are too many varieties of what we call “Ice Cream” to effectively group them into 3 categories, so this is definitely not the authority on what is presented here, but this will give you general idea.
All of this technical stuff, in the case of frozen custard, results in a super smooth, very creamy ice cream which is more dense than your regular frozen treat. We have found that guests, once they try it, prefer it to regular ice cream in most cases.
Call us gluttons for punishment, naive, overconfident in our abilities, or whatever, but we made the decision to bring back Nana’s Frozen Custard as an addition to our business in the middle of the summer.
This was largely influenced by many factors creating this timing. The frozen custard machine was installed and ready, product arrived, and we were just trying to take advantage of the best time of year to sell ice cream, but we served the first scoops of frozen custard in the afternoon on July 4, 2017.
Yes, I said we started on July 4th.
It did not take long for word to get out, and we had lines of customers wanting to order their cup or cone like we had not seen since our grand opening of Sourdough Cuppa Joe.
This created new challenges for us, but we faced them, and succeeded. The biggest challenge was figuring out how much of which flavor of frozen custard to run, and getting it all run in time for the mass of customers coming to buy it.
There were some other definite challenges to overcome as well.
One immediate change was the need for more staff. We were running two team members most of the time, except for the early morning, but this spike in business demanded three, four, and sometimes even five people to keep up.
Remember, we were all learning a new product too.
We had to hire, and fast. So we did, and believe it or not, despite being thrown into a very busy, difficult to learn in situation, we still have 2 of the additional people we hired during that time, and they are both shift leaders for us now!
I would like to take credit for that, but the Lord saw fit to bring us two very talented, well-grounded young ladies during this time. We could not have done it without them.
New Paper Goods, and Lots of Them
If you have ever started serving frozen treats in the middle of the summer when all you have ever served is coffee, espresso drinks, and baked goods you know what I’m talking about.
Who am I kidding, who would ever do that? Oh, yeah. We did.
We had quite the challenge on our hands figuring out where to get all of the supplies we now so urgently needed, and needed in large quantities.
We tried many places, and ultimately ended up getting things from a variety of suppliers. One goal was to use the exact same ingredient that Nana’s had used in the past on certain signature items and in certain flavors as much as possible.
New Customers and Managing Their Expectations
Some people don’t drink coffee. There, I said it.
I used to be one of these people. There, I said that too.
That being said, we had new customers, customers we had never seen before, coming to our shop, and some of them were expecting Nana’s Frozen Custard with all of their former (something like 44) items.
While we tried to be extremely clear and transparent about this through social media posts and verbal communication, it was inevitable that we were going to have some disappointment from these customers.
Our building is about 3,000 square feet. Nana’s Frozen Custard used all of this space to produce those 44 items and have them always ready to serve. We had about 400 square feet available to dedicate to the full use for Nana’s items.
We had to pick and choose what we were going to serve.
This challenged our creativity, coming up with ways to change items out from time to time and get folks used to 6-8 flavors instead of 16.
It also gave us opportunities to talk to new people about who we are and about Sourdough Cuppa Joe and what all we had to offer on that side as well. However difficult, this proved to be a way to increase sales on both sides of our business.
We did it!
If you’ve ever dreamed about opening a coffee shop, frozen treat shop, or bakery, we would love to hear from you! Comment on this post and introduce yourself!