Coming soon: The Custard Depot
Downtown Boone visitors will soon have a new way to cool off. The Custard Depot ice cream parlor will be opening in the next couple of weeks.
Crae Morton purchased the building, located at 158 Depot St., in the spring of 2009 and immediately began work renovating the space. Many residents will remember the colorful design painted onto the street-side exterior wall of the former jewelry store.
"We had to make some major changes to the building," Morton said. "The structure is the same, but the colorful, creative facade was falling apart."
Morton enlisted Appalachian Architecture to design an intricate brick pattern for the front of the building to maintain an artful appearance.
The interior will have a few extra touches, as well. The counter tops are crafted from Zebra wood, which manager Bryce Adrian likened to chocolate swirl in appearance. The structure was built in the 1940s, and one wall was left exposed to the original rock.
After beginning renovations, Morton examined the downtown area and potential tenants for the building. Looking at downtown in the context of a large shopping center, Morton said, there are gaps, particularly an exclusive ice cream parlor.
The Custard Depot was born.
"Given the corner location, size and that ice cream is fun," Morton said, "who wouldn't want to make ice cream all day? We are thrilled to share this with Boone."
Adrian joined Morton in October last year and has since helped design, fashioned a website and Facebook page, worked on the layout of the parlor and learned the art of making custard.
While still considered ice cream, custard is a very different, gourmet version.
Adrian shadowed the manager of the custard shop in Asheville and attended a three-day custard school to learn the intricacies of the frozen desert.
"Custard school was three days of intensive training with 10- to 14-hour days," Adrian said. "My instructor lives and breathes ice cream. We are shooting for the best of the best when we make it."
Frozen custard is richer, creamier and smoother than standard ice cream due to variances in the creation process.
Custard is required to have at least 10 percent butter fat, however, the Custard Depot is going a little over that for a richer flavor. Other ingredients are pasteurized eggs and sugar.
Like standard ice cream, the mix entered a refrigerated cylinder where the product freezes as blades churn the mixture. At this point, similarities between ice cream and custard end.
Frozen custard is churned and served at around 20 degrees, 10 degrees warmer than ice cream. It takes longer to make, but this process minimizes the amount of air blended in and reduces the size of ice crystals in the mixture. The result is a dense, smooth frozen desert.
Adrian explains this process also ensures a better flavor experience for the patron.
"With the temperature difference, custard doesn't numb your taste buds, so you can really enjoy the flavor," he said. "Custard is the king of ice cream."
The Custard Deport will serve vanilla and chocolate made fresh daily, with sundaes, shakes, a variety of toppings and banana splits available. There will be a weekly featured flavor with the first week set as butter pecan.
"The product is so good it speaks for itself," Morton said of the menu. "We want to be brilliant at the basics."
Pricing is still being worked out, although Morton anticipates frozen treats to start in the $2 range to be affordable for families. In addition to custard, the parlor will also serve coffee and premium chocolate bars.
The building will have awnings and benches arranged outside to give patrons a place to sit and enjoy the custard.
The parlor will designate a charity of the month. A tip jar set up on the counter will be divided evenly between the staff and a local non-profit. Morton said a few organizations have already been decided, including the Watauga Humane Society, Hunger and Health Coalition and the Watauga Chapter of the American Red Cross.
"This is a Boone original, a 100-percent local concept, and we want to develop that relationship," Morton said.
"As an App Sate alumnus, it is great to give back to the town where I have had the best four years of my life," Adrian added.
The Custard Depot will also have an added environmental touch, with cups and spoons that are biodegradable. Morton is also exploring the possibility of rooftop solar panels for power in the future.
For more information and progress announcements, visit The Custard Depot, visit http://www.custarddepot.com or become a fan at facebook.com/thecustarddepot.com.
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