* Terry Boyd also contributed to this post.
The only thing restaurateurs like as much as good food is good real estate, and Comfy Cow Ice Cream owners Tim and Roy Koons-McGee just landed one of the city’s sweetest spots.
Earlier today, Insider Louisville got the scoop that the mini-chain nabbed its next location at 1449 Bardstown Road, where it intersects at Eastern Parkway. It’s hard to imagine a location in Louisville with better foot traffic or surrounding demographic.
“As soon as I got the call that it was available, I said we’d take it,” said Tim Koons-McGee. It was announced last Friday that the longstanding Heine Brothers’ location would close since it’s so close to another Bardstown Road shop. “We’re really excited about this new location.”
They should be. According to former Qdoba franchisee Don Doyle, a franchise consultant to the Koons-McGees, the burrito store located across the street from their future shop is not only one of 30 he used to run, it was the busiest Qdoba in the entire chain.
“I think that says something,” Koons-McGee said. “And did I say we’re excited about this location?”
Yes, Ice Cream Man, you did, and we’re excited also since you shared some décor plans: “This space will be a little funkier and edgier to fit the neighborhood. We’re having some graffiti artists do some work. … Since each one of our spaces lends itself to an interpretation of the cow, it will be cool.”
Koons-McGee was hoping to keep the news under wraps in order to start a contest in which customers could guess the new location. But seeing as this is the Biggest Small Town in America, his idea melted faster than cheap soft-serve.
“We were going to take pictures and see if anyone could guess the neighborhood, things like that,” he said. Laughing, he added, “It was going to be fun, but since this town is full of people with loose lips, that’s all blown now!”
Koons-McGee said the building’s owner told him his phone hadn’t stopped ringing since Heine Brothers’ made its announcement Friday. When word slipped out that the Cow had claimed its next barn, the calls mercifully stopped.
To meet his goal of opening in time for the Kentucky Derby, Koons-McGee has to turn the coffee shop into an ice creamery and hire and train 10 new employees post haste.
“Heine Brothers’ last day is March 16, so we’ll start working right after that,” he said.
This likely is just the start of an expansion boom for the three-unit company. The Koons-McGees entered into a partnership with investor and retail consultant Chip Hamm (also affiliated with PRG Investments) to franchise the brand regionally. No stranger to restaurants, Hamm is a former Yum! Brands executive and a partner in Doc Crow’s Southern Smokehouse and Raw Bar and La Coop Bistro a Vins.
To help fuel Comfy Cow’s expansion, PRG brokered the “sale lease back” of Comfy Cow’s Frankfort Avenue store last year. The move provided the company with about $700,000 in cash and made the building the company’s commissary operation.
Last September, Comfy Cow signed its first franchisee to a New Albany location at 109 E. Market St. (If you know the neighborhood, it’s close to Wick’s Pizza and not even a block from Toast on Market.)
Franchisees Ian Hall and Lincoln Ogden, who also are partners in The Exchange Pub and Kitchen, were scheduled to open that store this spring, but inclement weather (tell us about it!) has delayed the opening until summer.
According to Tim Koons-McGee, the investment made to get its franchise disclosure documents buttoned up cost the business nearly $50,000, “but it’s going to be done right the first time with the help of people who know what they’re doing. We’ve heard horror stories of franchise agreements that were truly bad, so we want to bring that in house and tailor it specifically to our brand.”