A Missouri-based chain of quick-service frozen dessert shops plans to open its fourth Arizona location in Gilbert as it continues its effort to become as much of an institution as its first store back home.
Andy’s Custard will be building one of its standard drive-thru buildings in the empty lot north of QuikTrip on the northwest corner of Gilbert and Warner in Gilbert, a company spokeswoman said.
Andy’s specializes in frozen custard sundaes, ‘‘concretes,’’ shakes and splits and started its campaign to make Arizona its own in 2017 in Ahwatukee. Since then, it has opened two shops in Mesa.
The original Andy’s Custard opened in Springfield, Missouri, in 1986, marking the occasion by wheeling a 14-foot, 600 pound frozen custard cone made of fiberglass through downtown. Now it has 90 shops in 14 states.
“You can’t live in Springfield and not know about Andy’s,” said General Manager Beth Compton in a 2017 interview with a sister publication of the Gilbert Sun News. “It’s got a cult-like following there.”
Andy Kuntz is responsible for turning a frozen custard actually invented by his parents in Osage Beach, Missouri. After seeing how popular their custard was in Osage Beach, John and Carol Kuntz opened a stand in nearby Springfield.
Andy learned the business while he and his wife Dana continued experimenting with the custard recipe.
“After studying the business model and talking with Andy and his executive team, Ken and Bruce felt confident that this was the right opportunity for all of us. They got a hold of me, I looked into the brand, and I agreed that this was an exciting opportunity and I wanted to be a part of it,” said Compton.
“Arizona was always our number one choice for opening an Andy’s franchise,” she added.
Oddly, summer is not the ideal time to open a frozen-custard store in Arizona, she said – which may explain why the Gilbert shop won’t open until the end of the year.
“We think our peak time of year will likely be in the winter, but it’s tough to know with certainty what to expect, as this is the first Andy’s in this climate,” she explained. “We anticipate having an extremely busy drive-thru and we believe that our emphasis on product quality and exceptional service will keep people coming back, through all kinds of weather.”
Compton said its growth has been somewhat slow, but for a reason.
“Andy’s has taken a while to come to Arizona and other states primarily because it’s been a family-owned and operated business for many years and they weren’t always sure that franchising was right for them,” she said. “It can be risky to grow too fast.”
“Once the franchise idea was born, they were adamant about growing the right way, with people who share the mission and vision of the founders and who will maintain the brand standards. This takes time.”
Also taking time is the extensive training program all managers need to complete prior to opening a new store, she said.
The company started looking for its first Arizona location in 2015 before opening two years later in Ahwatukee.
“It may take a while for Andy to pursue some expansion opportunities, but that’s still his name on every store,” she said. “When I think about it like that, I completely understand why it’s so important for him to get it right when it comes to growing this brand.”