Story & photos by Patrick Alexander
Oregon Coast TODAY
When Mindy Grover decided she wanted to be her own boss, it made a lot of sense that she chose to get into the ice cream business.
As a child growing up in New Jersey, Mindy remembers eating ice cream while sitting on the hood of the family car. The delicious dessert was not allowed inside for fears that it might drip on the upholstery.
Now, as co-owner of Lincoln City’s Cold Stone Creamery, Mindy can eat ice cream wherever she wants and gets huge pleasure from spreading the joy of the world’s favorite dessert.
“I see two types of people come through the door,” she said. “One’s in a good mood. They are on vacation, they are with family, they want to stay in a good mood. The other ones are having a bad day and they need ice cream to make them feel better. They walk out with a smile, too. I kind of like that.”
How could a person not be beaming after a visit to such a fun franchise? Since the first store opened in 1988 in Tempe, Arizona, Cold Stone Creamery has been turning ice cream into a piece of performance art that can sweeten even the sourest of moods.
After customers choose their ice cream flavors, they get to pick from a vast array of “mixins,” everything from berries and coconut to brownies, M&Ms and Oreos. Crew members then transfer the whole shebang to the cold stone from which the franchise takes its name — a polished granite slab with a compressor underneath to keep it at a brisk 16 degrees. In a blur of chopping and folding, the crew blend ice cream and mixins together into a treat that delivers 100-percent flavor right to the last bite.
But the real performance starts with the tinkle of change falling into the tip jar, the signal for crewmembers to break into song.
“Our crew loves to sing,” said Mindy. “Because when they are singing they are making money.”
Some tipping songs come direct from the creamery, while others are locally crafted by members of the crew. Learning the songs is as much a part of the induction as getting trained on the cash register and memorizing the menu.
With potential combinations running into the millions, there’s no chance of customers getting bored, especially with the store switching up its ice cream flavors throughout the year.
A core selection of classics like French vanilla, sweet cream, chocolate and strawberry is enhanced by seasonal favorites like pumpkin cheesecake and crème brûlée, coming online just in time for fall. And be sure to keep an eye out for Apple Cinnamon Batter, an ice cream flavor invented at the Lincoln City store and now approved for sale at Cold Stone franchises everywhere.
With so many options, both Mindy and husband/co-owner Don Grover are adept at spotting the telltale sign of a customer overwhelmed by choices and are quick to offer assistance.
“That’s when I usually say ‘If you were to go to the grocery store to get ice cream, what would you get?’” said Mindy. “Whatever it is, we can do better.”
For those who want a tried-and-tested combination, the store offers a range of signature creations, like Mindy’s go-to option, the Founder’s Favorite, blending sweet cream ice cream with caramel, fudge, brownies and pecans. Don, meanwhile, is partial to Our Strawberry Blonde, strawberry ice cream with graham cracker pie crust, strawberries, caramel and whipped topping — although he prefers to cut his ice cream with a little cheesecake flavor to mix things up.
All the ice cream is made on site, along with all the waffles and the store’s wide selection of cakes, which crew members are only too happy to decorate with edible images.
Sorbet and frozen yoghurt round out the frozen dessert offerings, along with a range of shakes, smoothies and frappes for those who prefer their decadence served with a straw rather than a spoon.
And for those days when the Oregon Coast weather has you longing for something hot, options include Chocolate Lava Meltdown, Brownie a la Cold Stone and Hot for Cookie, a warm medley of chocolate chip cookie and cookie dough, topped with French vanilla ice cream, whipped topping and shaved chocolate.
Whatever option you choose, Mindy and Don will take pleasure in serving up a dessert worth sharing — in every way.
“I love the smiles, the grins,” Don said, “And people taking pictures and texting their friends: ‘See what I got.’”
The Lincoln City Cold Stone Creamery is located in Suite 138 of Lighthouse Square, 4157 NW Highway 101. Late summer hours are noon to 9 pm Sunday through Thursday and noon to 10 pm on Fridays and Saturdays. For more information, call 541-996-5500 or go to coldstonecreamery.com.
Throughout September, the Lincoln City Cold Stone will be selling stickers designed by the artist Keith Haring for “Best Buddies,” which works to foster better living situations for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.