16 Handles is celebrating the one-year anniversary of the brand’s acquisition by its largest franchisee Neil Hershman, who took over as CEO last summer. In the past year, the new leadership team has helped to drive strong sales for franchisees and innovate new products for customers, all while focusing on expansion outside of the Tri-State area.
The frozen dessert brand currently has more than a dozen stores under construction, including multiple units in Massachusetts, North and South Carolina, Florida and Texas – all key markets identified by the 16 Handles leadership team. Danny Duncan, a comedic YouTuber who has amassed over 1.5 billion views on the platform, also joined the company during the acquisition as an investor and co-owner. Duncan is currently under construction in his hometown of Englewood, FL to build a 16 Handles store, after debuting the first 16 Handles ice cream truck earlier this year in one of his videos with over 4 million views.
Across the company’s 35+ franchised locations, same-store-sales have grown double digits in the past year, and a third of the brand’s existing store locations have been remodeled to align with its modern image and upscale appeal, which Hershman says is adding to the enthusiasm and energy customers feel about the company.
“We are excited about the interest and growth for 16 Handles, both from our customers and with our franchise development pipeline. As a franchisee-managed franchisor, we were able to put over a decade of in-store practical experience into redesigning the perfect frozen dessert shop. Every day we get to invest in technologies and build the training systems we dreamed of as operators, it’s just so fun,” says Hershman. “I personally feel so grateful to have already welcomed over a dozen awesome entrepreneurs into the 16 Handles family this year. Our entire team is motivated by and focused on building the ‘happiest place in town’ and welcoming new neighborhoods to try 16 Handles for the first time.”
In June, 16 Handles debuted the refreshed store design as part of a franchisee grand opening in Naples, Florida, which drew more than 500 people to the opening event. The new store design features a first in-class modular topping bar, which allows more flexibility for operators while maintaining the seemingly endless amounts of topping options guests enjoy. New soft serve machines save electricity and allow franchisees to offer a more consistent product with less labor. The store design also features a new modernized look and feel, highlighting the brand’s colors and a new signature slogan, “Choose Wildly.”
Product innovation over the past year has focused on a commitment to launching new flavors monthly (on the 16th, of course) and experimenting with new frozen yogurt trends. Some highlights over the past year include:
Launching several successful new flavors, including a Summer of Fun lineup that sold out in stores three months in a row. Flavors included Rocket Pop, Orange Creamsicle and Fudgesicle Fudge Pop.
Partnering with Dō Cookie Dough as the exclusive retailer of the most popular edible cookie dough brand. The product is featured on the 16 Handles’ topping bar and in grab-and-go containers.
Expansion of the no-sugar-added and low sugar options, as well as new vegan flavors with Oat Milk partner, Oatly.
16 Handles sets itself apart with contemporary store design, an exclusive and addictive product lineup, and an unparalleled customer experience. The menu features 16 different soft serve flavors, 50+ toppings and sauces, as well as a variety of frozen novelties such as cakes, take-home pints, and Dō gourmet edible cookie dough.