The 120-year-old brand recently inked a 100+ unit franchise agreement.
Abbott’s Frozen Custard
Locations: 37
Future Locations Signed: Over 100
Franchise Fee: $37,000
Total Start-Up Costs: $346,258-$654,646

Founded by Arthur Abbott in 1902, and rooted in Rochester, New York, since 1926, Abbott’s Frozen Custard has been serving up frozen treats to its fanatical following for 120 years. Now, it’s in growth mode: The brand has 37 stands and has inked franchise deals that will bring its unit count to well over 100 over the next several years.

One of those agreements was with a former member of the Papa John’s brand, whose group signed a deal to open 100 Abbott’s stands. That’s one of seven multi-unit agreements Abbott’s has signed in the past few years.

Brenden Drew, vice president of franchise development at Abbott’s, reports the brand is growing thanks to, first and foremost, an exceptional product. Abbott’s menu is built around a secret family recipe known to only three people in the world. How well-guarded is that recipe? Drew doesn’t even know it, despite being the son of the company’s President, Gail Drew.

Making its product fresh daily in small batches, every Abbott’s stand churns out a wide variety of flavors. The menu boasts everything from classic sundaes to Root Beer Milkshakes, custom-made cakes, and other take-home items. Abbott’s signature novelty item, however, is its Turtle. Invented by Drew’s grandmother in the 1960s, the Turtle features layers of Spanish peanuts, fudge, and chocolate or vanilla custard, all frozen on a stick and coated in a dark chocolate shell. Hence the name—Turtle.

Drew believes a second reason Abbott’s franchising model is taking off is because of its exceptional team. Abbott’s owners, and, in turn, crew members, are fiercely passionate about the brand, and that enables them to deliver a very memorable “Abbott’s Experience.”

Finally, Drew says Abbott’s Frozen Custard is on the verge of something big due to the segment’s potential. “Frozen custard has been around for more than 100 years, but it’s still a growing niche in the market,” Drew says. “Frozen custard is not a fad. It has staying power, yet there’s so much white space in the industry right now. You might have four or five true frozen-custard-only brands, and we’re all a little different. But there’s only one that’s been around since 1902 and has a secret family recipe.”

Drew notes that every Abbott’s store owner can expect several days of immersive training at a corporate-owned stand in Rochester, New York. Then, once construction is complete on a new owner’s location, owners and crew members receive intensive, hands-on, in-stand training. According to Drew, training is conducted by one of the most experienced teams in the industry.

“We believe we can grow to more than 500 stands someday,” Drew says. “We want to grow the right way: by finding the right people, in the right place, at the right time, in a way that makes sense for everybody. That way, our owners and guests alike can live ‘Happily Ever After,’ as we like to say.”

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