Andrew Rowe’s family frequently visited their local Bruster’s Ice Cream in Canton, Georgia. When Rowe heard there wasn’t a location in Athens, the Rowe family sold its home and moved to the city to open an ice cream shop.
The new Bruster’s location off Epps Bridge Parkway will be a family-run business. Rowe and his family — Pam, Natalie, and Alex Rowe — plan to open the store this summer. The new Bruster’s location is part of a series of new openings by the ice cream chain.
Scooping out a family business
After discussing it with his daughter, Rowe decided Bruster’s was the best franchise for his family to work with.
“When I attended school here, there was not a Bruster’s in Athens, and I had talked to my friends and coworkers at that time, and they had mentioned that there was previously a Bruster’s in Athens years ago,” Natalie Rowe said.
The process of opening a Bruster’s has been an eye-opening experience for Rowe, who worked in the corporate world for 30 years. His family went through the process of figuring out financial aspects including an estimate of the store's success, as well as the process of acquiring real estate and finding a location.
The Rowes made the final decision and signed the contract to open a location of the franchise at the end of 2017.
Rowe said the biggest surprise was how long it would take. He thought the store would open earlier, and finding a location with a drive through and the right traffic was difficult.
The family is scheduled to attend training at the Bruster’s headquarters in May.
Rowe said most people don’t realize ice cream in Bruster’s is made fresh every day, and the Rowe family will learn how to serve and make the ice cream given to customers.
“We’ll be certified ice cream makers,” Rowe said.
Cone-cerned about closings?
Although there have been some Bruster’s closings across the country in the last five years, Rowe isn’t concerned about it.
“There’s always turnover in franchises, and things like that, and as I learned this, a lot of it has to do with the location you select and the type of store you open,” Rowe said.
The Rowe family were adamant about wanting to open a store that was located in a stand-alone building with a drive-through, and Rowe said he thought the location was a vital component in the recipe for success.
Rowe said Bruster's is also expanding to new markets, and there are about 200 stores open, with just under 60 in Georgia.
“I asked that question, I said, ‘Well, why is it so successful in Georgia?’ And the response I kept getting was, ‘The people in Georgia just love our ice cream,’” Rowe said.
Sprinkling on the finishing touches
Construction for the ice cream shop started in January, and there is a target for a June timeframe for opening.
The Bruster’s store plans on reaching out to the community through social media on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to determine what flavors should be stocked. The Bruster’s location also plans on offering special promotions, such as Free Doggy Sundae and PJs day.
Rowe said he predicts most of his employees will be high schoolers or UGA students. The franchise plans to attend events and cater for parties, weddings, sororities and fraternities.
Sophomore entertainment and media studies major Mollie Schilling is from Blairsville, Georgia. Growing up, her hometown lacked a Bruster's location.
“I think it’s a good idea, and I might go to it because I like ice cream, and I like to try new things,” Schilling said.
Although Rowe and his daughter are both UGA alumni, Rowe said he hasn’t lived in Athens since the mid-1980s.
“We got to learn Athens again, participate in the community, get to know folks out here, attend a lot of the athletic events [and] the cultural events,” Rowe said.