For the first time, scoops of premium Bruster’s Real Ice Cream will be served in Southern California under the largest domestic development deal in the company’s 25-year history. The first of six locations is scheduled to open in Cypress, California, this April.
Bruster’s features more than 200 flavors of handcrafted ice cream, yogurt, Italian ice and sorbet, with at least 24 made fresh in each shop daily. There are nearly 200, independently owned locations in 18 states and the nation of Guyana.
Southern California-based business partners Larry Johnson and Robert Clinton chose to invest in Bruster’s after studying several chains in a variety of segments. “There are lots of fad pizza, burger, and yogurt chains out there, but ice cream is here to stay,” Johnson says. “Bruster’s premium product really differentiates it from other frozen treat brands.”
Johnson started his career in the custom wheel manufacturing business working directly for the founder of American Racing Equipment. He helped grow the business from $3 million to $300 million during his tenure. He went on to owning other custom wheel warehouse and distribution businesses. Retired for seven years, he jumped when the opportunity came up to open Bruster’s in the West.
Clinton devoted 40 years to Marie Callender’s as an operations and franchising executive, as well as a franchisee. The partners took a hard look at several concepts before signing with Bruster’s. “We liked Bruster’s supporting cast and its infrastructure,” Clinton says. “Bruster’s franchise support system, especially its strong marketing, clinched the deal.”
Positioned as “A Scoop Above the Rest,” Bruster’s in 2014 posted a 4.6 percent same-store sales increase. Average unit volumes are up nearly 20 percent since 2012. “Larry and Bob are experienced, sophisticated entrepreneurs and operators,” says Bruster’s CEO Jim Sahene. “Their commitment for six units underscores Bruster’s potential as a strong, national premium ice cream brand.”
The six new Bruster’s locations are slated for Cypress, Artesia, Fullerton, Newport Beach, La Habra, and Cerritos, all in Southern California. With an all-new, in-line/dine-in prototype and expanded menu, Bruster’s is expanding in specific domestic and international trade areas.