The Times West Virginian

June 16, 2013

The Cool Cow builds on ice cream history

By Jessica Borders
Times West Virginian

MANNINGTON — The Cool Cow is bringing people back to a spot in Mannington with a lot of ice cream history.

On May 9, Debbie and Alan Croston opened their new store on East Main Street in the building that formerly housed Dairy Queen. The outside of the structure, which has been painted white with black cow spots, is eye-catching for customers.

This business space in Mannington has been serving cold treats to the community for about 50 years, Debbie said.

“This has always been an ice cream place,” she said.

In fact, when Debbie was growing up, her mom — the late Ida Tennant — worked at the building when it was Dairy Queen. Some of The Cool Cow’s customers remember her mother working there many years ago.

Debbie, who lives and was raised in Mannington, has a background mainly in marketing, sales and advertising. As she visited different businesses as part of her previous work, she saw how the owners loved what they did for a living and how their business was their life.

She had been thinking about opening her own business for a couple years. When the Dairy Queen closed on East Main Street and the building became available, she wanted to hurry up and start her own shop because she knew that was a great location.

Debbie said it didn’t take long for her and her husband to come up with The Cool Cow name and theme, and other aspects of the business seemed to happen easily, too.

“Everything fell into place,” she said. “It just came together so quickly.”

On Jan. 4, Debbie and Alan started leasing the space, and then spent several months on renovations to make the facility functional for them. The building hadn’t had any work done to it for a while, and the remodeling involved putting down new floors, installing heat and air conditioning, and more. A lot of friends helped with the efforts.

The Cool Cow has 31 flavors of ice cream and features top-of-the-line toppings, Debbie said. The shop has a machine that allows it to put different flavors into soft serve in a cone or cup. Cotton Candy is a big hit with the kids, and many adults love the black raspberry.

Customers can get a peanut butter dip cone or a one-topping sundae, or choose from a variety of “Moolicious Sundaes,” like blackberry cobbler, hot fudge brownie, strawberry shortcake, chocolate covered cherry, s’mores and others, she said. They can order a “Breeze” — such as tropical or peanut butter and jelly — with different candies mixed in, or have a milkshake, from peanut butter, blueberry and vanilla to all the flavors in between.

Some people even come up with their own ice cream combinations, and the staff doesn’t mind whipping up the creations they imagine, Debbie said.

The Cool Cow also offers food options. The menu includes pepperoni or hot pepper steak paninis made on flat bread in a panini press, chicken salad or pork barbecue sandwiches, and nachos.

Hot dogs are a big seller there. Debbie said people love the sauce, which is her own recipe.

The business, which will be open seasonally, serves its customers via walk-up windows and has tables outside. Debbie expects the shop to stay in operation this season until October, depending on the weather.

Debbie said the response from the community has been wonderful, and the success has been overwhelming. The line of customers was backed up as soon as the business opened on its first day, and the store already has many regular customers, including many ball teams.

“I don’t think any of us knew how busy it would be,” she said.

At the Cool Cow, people can talk outside while enjoying their ice cream and food and don’t have to feel rushed to leave.

“The best part about it is seeing people out there hanging out,” Debbie said. “We just really like people, so it’s good seeing everybody.”

She said she enjoys working with the shop’s seven employees as they are starting this new venture together. Many of them are students working their first jobs.

“We have great employees,” Debbie said.

This Saturday, the Cool Cow will hold its grand opening celebration, which will feature specials and music. Customers will have the chance to vote on the name of the cow mascot, and the winner will receive a prize. The business invites bikers to come and show off their motorcycles that day, and Debbie said it will be a fun time for everyone.

The store is open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 9 p.m. Sunday. For more information, visit The Cool Cow on Facebook.

Email Jessica Borders at jborders@timeswv.com or follow her on Twitter @JBordersTWV.