Fan of ice cream treats takes on cool biz
Due to space issues, my full column was clipped a bit today. Here's the full version for my blog readers' enjoyment:
Growing up, David Hewitt would ride his bike to the corner store in Douglas go buy his favorite treat - Kathy's Famous Handmade Ice Cream Sandwiches.
In later years, he would always take his family to the Oronoco Gold Rush. However, he wasn't interested antiques. They went just to buy those ice cream sandwiches from Kathy McKeon.
Now after 30 years of making the vanilla sandwiches from her mother's recipe, McKeon of Mazeppa has decided to hang up her apron and retire.
Faster than ice cream melts on a 90 degree afternoon, David and Meghan Hewitt have taken on McKeon's tasty legacy. As of July 29, the couple own the sweet treat business and have branded it as Mama Meg's Parlour.
"I thought this was a great opportunity," says David Hewitt, the ice cream entrepreneur. This has been my favorite treat since I was a kid. It was a no-brainer."
This was not, however, a decision made based just on his stomach.
The Hewitts have been testing the market by setting up "an old-fashioned ice cream parlor" every week at the Thursdays on First street fair in downtown Rochester.
McKeon's sandwiches have certainly passed the test. From their elaborate "parlor" booth, David Hewitt has been selling between 700 to 1,200 sandwiches on Thursdays.
In honor of National Ice Cream Sandwich Day (which is today), the Hewitts will have a special sandwich at Mama Meg's at Thursdays on First this week.
In addition to the beloved vanilla treats, they will be selling a very limited run of an experimental mint and chocolate chip sandwich with garnish of Andes mints.
The Hewitts plan to sell the handmade sandwiches at events throughout the region as well as expanding McKeon's current wholesale distribution base selling to diners and restaurants.
For many years the sandwiches have been available at Rochester's two drive-through Snappy Stop burger joints and many other locations,
Now Hewitt, who is the organizer of the Rochester Entrepreneur Network, is in talks with 50s-style eateries beyond Minnesota's borders to add Mama Meg's sandwiches to their menus.
At the moment, the Hewitts make their ice cream treats in the commercial kitchen of Regal Catering in southeast Rochester.
However, to meet their goal of ramping up production, they would like to set up a kitchen facility of their own this winter.
And further down the road, they would like to create an ice cream parlor that is more permanent than their Thursdays on First display.
"We're looking at the possibility of setting up a brick-and-mortar spot this spring," he says.
Until that day, you can find David Hewitt's favorite snack for sale across from Dooley's Pub on Thursdays.