While loving our frozen treats, it's always fun to learn a little bit more about the product and the people who make it happen. In this case, we are lucky to be able to chat with Mary Pat Dauria, the owner of Needham's Abbott's.
Scoopalicious: Abbott's is from Rochester, just like you and your husband originally. What made you bring it here?Mary Pat (photo at right): [My husband] Alex and I grew up on Abbott's. We could not believe there were no true frozen custard shops in NE and we saw the need. Most people from Rochester a big part of their childhood is having frozen custard at the Abbott's at Charlotte Beach. They still have long lines all summer.
Scoopalicious: What is frozen custard? What makes it different from ice cream? (MP, I know you explained this to me, but I don't want to jumble it up...if you have a good place I can reference online, that would be fine too.
Mary Pat: Ice cream labeled “frozen custard” must have 10 percent milk fat and 1.4 percent egg yolk solids by weight. The machine that it is made in churns it slowly so it is very dense and it is made fresh everyday, not frozen.
Scoopalicious: Owning an frozen custard franchise...dangerous. Do you eat a lot of it or have you grown tired of it?
Mary Pat: Well, I can honestly say neither one of us has grown tired of it. I have to test the flavors as I make them all day. At the end of the night I always have a cup or a novelty. I look forward to it. I also encourage my employees to test and bring home. You can't sell something unless you love it.
Scoopalicious: Business seems to be booming. Are there other frozen in the area or did you fill happen to fill a big void?
Mary Pat: I think we filled a void. There was a very popular place on Nantasket Beach years ago, so older people in the area remember that. I believe we are the only place in the area that sells true frozen custard -- not soft serve labeled as frozen custard. You can find a few places in New Hampshire and Maine.
Scoopalicious: Your shop is small but popular. Any chance you will be expanding to have more seating area in the near future?
Mary Pat: We have no plans to expand this shop. People do not seem to mind standing and we do have benches outside. I am hoping to open more locations in the near future.
Scoopalicious: You only have about eight (?) flavors on your menu at any given time. How do you decide what flavors to have? Do you keep any up permanently while rotating others out?
Mary Pat: We do only 8 flavors because we have dipping cabinets that keep the product chilled and there is only 8 bins in them. Also since we make it fresh everyday it would be hard to make many more. I always run Chocolate, Vanilla, Chocolate Almond, one yogurt and one lite flavor. The rest I change everyday. People call me and request certain flavors and I will make it for them anytime. Otherwise I make what I am "feeling" that day.
Scoopalicious: What has been the best part of this new venture?
Mary Pat: All the new people I have met!!!! I love Needham and met such wonderful kids and adults. I love what I do and look forward to going in everyday.
Scoopalicious: The worst?
Mary Pat: The worst was probably just getting the business up and running. Getting all the building permits and running into all the build-out issues. I had a lot of sleepless nights. I do have to say also cleaning the machine every night is not my favorite thing!!
Scoopalicious: What did you do to fill your desire for frozen treats before you brought Abbott's to New England?
Mary Pat: I would eat a lot of Abbott's when I would go back to Rocheater.
Scoopalicious: Any other favorite places to get ice cream?
Mary Pat: I do have to say I am a Ben & Jerry's fan. Cherry Garcia is my favorite.
Scoopalicious: What is your favorite product in the whole shop?
Mary Pat: That is tough. I really like the plain vanilla with hot fudge. My favorite novelty flavor is prbably "Purple Cow", black raspberry custard with blueberry drizzled in and white & chococlate chips mixed in. HEAVEN!!
Scoopalicious: How was the first year?!?!?!
Mary Pat: The first year was awesome. I learned a lot. Sales exceeded expectations and am looking forward to more Abbott's on the horizon.
Abbott's sure is something special. It's rich and creamy and the flavors are just amazing. I mean, you can't go wrong with the old standbys of chocolate and vanilla, but it's rarely a disappointment when you go for something like pumpkin (one of my personal favorites) -- though, I have to say, I'll be visiting Mary Pat again very soon to try the Purple Cow. However, when you go to Abbott's in Needham, you don't just go for the ice cream (which in itself is worth it). You go to meet Mary Pat and her friendly crew of employees who will take great care of you.
All in all, whether you are in New York, Florida, Massachusetts or Louisiana, Abbott's is not a treat you want to pass up.
Thanks for the interview, Mary Pat, and best of luck to you and Alex and the whole team. We hope the upcoming years are just as awesome, if not better, than the first!
[Scoopalicious is celebrating National Ice Cream month with a Post-A-Day throughout the month of July!]