Special to AFN

A 30-year-old Midwest institution has picked Ahwatukee to begin its conquest of Arizona frozen custard lovers.

Andy’s Frozen Custard is scheduled to open today,  July 12, in the Ahwatukee Palms Shopping Center on the southeast corner of 48th Street and E. Warner Road. The company has hopes of developing in Ahwatukee the same fan base that general manager Beth Compton falls to managing partners Ken Treat and Bruce Johansson.

They'll be responsible for making Andy's as much an institution in Ahwatukee as it is the original Andy's Custard in Springfield, Missouri.

Andy’s menu features a variety of custard-based desserts including custard cups with fruit and sauce toppings; concretes, custard mixed with fruit, nuts and candy, along with shakes, malts and “old-fashioned freezes.”

“You can’t live in Springfield and not know about Andy’s,” said Compton. “It’s got a cult-like following there.”

Andy Kuntz is responsible for turning a frozen custard actually invented by his parents in Osage Beach, Missouri, into a treat that can be found in nine states so far. After seeing how popular their custard was in Osage Beach, John and Carol Kuntz opened a stand in nearby Springfield.

Andy learned the business there while he and his wife Dana continued experimenting with the custard recipe.

“After studying the business model and talking with Andy and his executive team, Ken and Bruce felt confident that this was the right opportunity for all of us. They got ahold of me, I looked into the brand, and I agreed that this was an exciting opportunity and I wanted to be a part of it,” said Compton.

She was so eager to be a part of it that she moved to Arizona from Maui earlier this year to establish the company’s first Arizona location.

“I have so much belief in this brand and in the growth potential we see in the Phoenix market,” she said, adding:

“Arizona was always our number one choice for opening an Andy’s franchise.  After looking at several Phoenix area locations, we chose Ahwatukee because we love the strong sense of community and family, and we love the store location. We think we can thrive in Ahwatukee and I am personally amazed by the warm reception I’ve received from the people I’ve met around town.”

Compton describes her role as overseeing operations and being “the local face of the brand.”

Her store manager, Joe Gabe, a Phoenix resident for the last seven years, “brings extensive food service experience to our team.”

Compton also envisions more locations, with the second opening in Mesa this winter.

Oddly, summer is not the ideal time to open a frozen-custard store in Arizona, she said.

“We think our peak time of year will likely be in the winter, but it’s tough to know with certainty what to expect, as this is the first Andy’s in this climate,” she explained. “We anticipate having an extremely busy-drive through and we believe that our emphasis on product quality and exceptional service with keep people coming back, through all kinds of weather.”

The Ahwatukee store is the company’s 51st and Compton said its growth has been somewhat slow, but for a reason.

“Andy’s has taken a while to come to Arizona and other states primarily because it’s been a family-owned and operated business for many years and they weren’t always sure that franchising was right for them,” she said. “It can be risky to grow too fast.”

“Once the franchise idea was born, they were adamant about growing the right way, with people who share the mission and vision of the founders and who will maintain the brand standards.  This takes time.”

Also taking time is the extensive training program all managers need to complete prior to opening a new store, she said.

The company started looking for its first Arizona location two years ago.

Compton said she likes “Andy’s diligent brand-expansion process.”

“It may take a while for Andy to pursue some expansion opportunities, but that’s still his name on every store,” she said. “When I think about it like that, I completely understand why it’s so important for him to get it right when it comes to growing this brand.”

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