The Cold Stone Creamery Franchise Story

How the ultimate ice cream franchise opportunity pioneered customization, exceptional customer service and the Ultimate Ice Cream Experience

Cold Stone Creamery was founded in 1988, by married couple Donald and Susan Sutherland in the college town of Tempe, Arizona. The Sutherlands were ice cream fanatics and traveled all over the world trying to find the perfect ice cream. Unsatisfied with the ice cream they discovered, when they returned the Sutherlands set out to open a new ice cream shop that would be far different than the prepackaged, chalk-like ice cream they could get in the supermarket, or the prepackaged ice cream that arrived in vats at their local ice cream shops in town. They wanted ice cream that was made in-house, on the very same day their customers came in to get a sundae or cone. The quest for the perfect ice cream franchise opportunity is the reason Cold Stone Creamery was founded, and it’s why Cold Stone Creamery continues to enjoy rising popularity.

“What made us unique when Cold Stone Creamery was founded is what continues to make us unique today, which is the fact that we make our ice cream fresh,” says Dr. Maya Warren, Tastemaster™ with Cold Stone Creamery. “What the Sutherlands discovered in the 1980s still persists among a lot of our competitors, who bring their ice cream in tubs or vats, and the ice cream sits until they sell it or it goes bad. This key difference is why Cold Stone Creamery has such a heavenly taste, that perfect ice cream taste that you want when you’re in the mood for ice cream: we make the ice cream in the same store where you come in to get it.”

The ultimate ice cream experience and pioneering customization

Long before fast food and QSR restaurants began displaying ingredients before the customers, allowing them to pick and choose, Cold Stone Creamery perfected the concept. Customers can pick and choose from brownies, OREO®  cookies, gummy bears, Butterfinger®, Snickers® and more, alongside a dozen or so freshly made ice cream flavors such as Cake BatterTM, Sweet Cream, Chocolate, and more to make their own individualized Creation™.

This revolutionary concept of customization set the standard for the rest of the food industry, but it also helped inspire the concept that Cold Stone Creamery is known for: The Ultimate Ice Cream Experience®.

“The Ultimate Ice Cream Experience is a 10-minute vacation,” Maya says. “A guest walks into Cold Stone Creamery and is immediately welcomed, and their eyes dart over to our freshly made ice cream, they see the mix-ins, and they know they can create something that is perfect for them, or they can choose one of our iconic Cold Stone Creations™.  Cold Stone Creamery crew members sing and cheer, encouraging laughter and friendly conversation, and when the customer leaves, they leave us with a smile. That’s our goal, really. Our primary goal is to make people happy. The fact that people are happy when they leave us is one of the reasons why they come back.”

A Global Footprint

Cold Stone Creamery began franchising in 1994, and the result has been that Cold Stone Creamery is an iconic brand all over the world. When Kahala BrandsTM, one of the world’s most esteemed franchisors, with a portfolio of nearly 20 international brands, including Blimpie®, took the reins of Cold Stone Creamery in 2007, the ice cream franchise became a giant. Cold Stone Creamery is in nearly 30 international markets, with over 1,000 locations in the United States alone.

“While the growth of Cold Stone Creamery has much to do with our brand’s phenomenal product and commitment to exceptional customer service, the continued popularity of our brand is shared with our franchisees, who turn their dream of bringing Cold Stone Creamery to their communities into reality,” says Jay Goldstein, VP of Franchise Development with Cold Stone Creamery. “We support them every step of the way, and it shows in how our franchisees feel about their businesses and the Cold Stone Creamery brand. We’re proud to say that we have some of the most enthusiastic franchisees in any brand in any industry. We’re looking forward to growing this brand in many more communities in the years to come.”

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