Cold Stone Creamery opened Thursday in the Grizzly's Center in Baxter.
Customers entered to the aroma of fresh waffle cones. Mounds of ice cream filled the display case. Workers with silver scoops in hand blended ice cream orders atop a granite stone and sang ice cream songs if money was dropped into the tip jar.
The waffles and ice cream are made in the store daily. But getting the secret recipe for the ice cream would require the talents of a vault breaker.
Owners Jean and Mark Justin opened for a practice night on the eve of opening day. They hired about 17 staff members, mostly high school students from the lakes area. Employees were able to train for their jobs on computer before the hands-on started at the store.
"It's going to be good," Jean said. "I love the kids in the area."
Nearly a year ago readers learned the franchise was coming to the lakes area. The Justins, who live just north of Little Falls, opened the Cold Stone in St. Cloud on Sept. 24, 2002. The St. Cloud location was the No. 1 store in the Midwest for sales volume.
Once a customer chooses the ice cream portion in "like it," "love it" and "gotta have it," sizes, workers use two scoops to pull the favorite flavor from the display case. The ice cream is placed on a 16-degree granite stone. Other items are added, such as strawberries, whipped cream, chocolate, yellow sponge cake or graham cracker pie crust.
Twelve signature cakes may be special ordered or picked up and personalized at the store. Other offerings include shakes or malts and smoothies, including such flavors as a sweet Hawaiian. In addition to the Cold Stone Creations of Strawberry Banana Crumble, Breathless Boston Cream Pie or Nights in White Chocolate, there are sundaes and banana splits.
Customers, who are expected to sample at least a few flavors as they decide on an order, may mix and match ice cream flavors to their choice. Each month has a special flavor, such as November's pumpkin pie, December's candy cane, January's cookie batter, February's red hot and March's blue cotton candy.
Employees start making ice cream about 9 a.m., or earlier in the summer. The store hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Last year Dale Johnson, Cold Stone Creamery Minnesota area developer, said few communities this small are awarded a franchise. He said about 40,000 people within three miles typically are needed to make the business work in metro areas.
The steady addition of retail stores and restaurants speaks to the Brainerd/Baxter overall ability to draw name companies with its combined population.
Applebee's restaurant in Baxter is putting on an addition with Nor-son Construction. The work, with a value of $125,000, according to the building permit, is expected to be completed a week before Christmas.
Claire Antiques opened on Lindbergh Drive Northwest in Little Falls. Owners Jason and Jodi Claire moved to Little Falls from the St. Cloud area and after collecting inventory for four years were ready to open their business.
North Country Floral, which has been next to McDonald's in Brainerd for eight years, now has a shop in the Westgate Mall. Owner Michelle Potter said the mall invited them to come inside and see how they liked the experience. They will be part of the mall shops in November and December. Potter said the additional site will provide the floral shop with more visibility through the holidays.
Kevin Anderson, architect in Little Falls, renovated space for his offices on the second floor where the Maude Moon Weyerhaeuser Theatre was on First Avenue Northeast.
The Goer's Office Building on Elmwood Drive in Baxter has a construction permit valued at $60,000 for one of its office suites.
Classic Heating and Sheet Metal is James Laird's new business on East Broadway in Little Falls.
The business services include central duct systems and sheetmetal work for construction and remodeling along with unit heaters, air exchanges and gas piping.
RENEE RICHARDSON, senior reporter, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5852.
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