Wicked Local – By Heather Beasley Doyle
Thinking ahead to Patriots’ Day, if you venture out to the Lexington parade, you might want to take along a little extra cash—and some space in your stomach, too. If all goes as planned, Abbott’s Frozen Custard will open its first Lexington store in mid-April, “before Patriots’ Day,” according to franchise owner and Lexington resident Jason Denoncourt.
Abbott’s will move into the space at 1853 Mass. Ave. vacated in the summer of 2015 by Candy Castle, which had been there for more than three decades. The frozen custard establishment will be Abbott’s third in Massachusetts.
Construction on the location, owned by Linear Retail, should begin this week, Denoncourt said. It should take about six to eight weeks. From there, he plans to “hire staff and get it all up and running.” For now, the store’s windows are plastered with images of frozen custard cones and the Abbott’s logo, concealing the interior of the space.
Five new flavors each day
Each day, Lexingtonians will be able to choose from eight flavors of frozen custard, along with milkshakes, cakes and other frozen treats. Three set flavors; vanilla, chocolate, and chocolate almond will serve as mainstays, while five additional flavors will change from daily. Abbott’s stores can create up to 1,000 different flavors, according to Abbott’s Vice President of Business Development Brenden Drew.
“Our product is made in the store fresh, in small batches throughout the day. It’s all made right there in the store,” Drew said.
The Lexington location joins the other Massachusetts Abbott’s franchises, in Needham and Brighton. According to Drew, the Needham location opened about 10 years ago, with the Brighton store following 18 months later. At the time, “the franchising model wasn’t set up the way it is now,” he said.
For those unfamiliar with frozen custard, “it’s the way ice cream was meant to be; it’s like the best super premium ice cream you’ve ever had,” according to Drew.
“It’s got a staying power that’s really unique,” he added, describing frozen custard’s particular texture as “almost intoxicating.”
Owner is Lexington resident
Denoncourt approached Abbott’s about opening a location after working in commercial real estate for 15 years, then working on economic development with Congressman Seth Moulton, D-Massachusetts. He resigned from the latter post in December to focus completely on opening his new store. Diving into the project, Denoncourt has kept Lexington front and center, he said. He noted that 126,000 people sign into the Visitors’ Center annually, and that with three children at the Bowman School, the life of the family’s new store will parallel his kids’ growing up.
“I’m trying to take a hyperlocal approach to entrepreneurism,” Denoncourt explained via text message. “Just like all politics is local, I believe business at the local level is extremely important.”
With the rent arranged, dealings with the town underway and construction about to begin, the next step is to meet with the Zoning Board to discuss signage requirements, Denoncourt said.
Abbott’s began in 1902 at Playland amusement park in Rye Beach, New York. Founder Arthur Abbott invented frozen custard using a “secret family recipe,” said Drew, who is part of that family, which still owns Abbott’s. Today, the business is headquartered in Rochester, New York, with locations in New York state, Virginia, South Carolina and Florida, as well as Massachusetts.
Drew said that Lexington felt like a good fit for Abbott’s because “we look for strong communities.” When he visited the town, “the soccer fields were just covered with kids,” he added.
As for his motivation to bring Abbott’s to Lexington, Denoncourt had one specific thought: “Everyone I know is all about family and fun, and that’s what this space is all about.”