Adults and children alike, rejoice! There is finally an ice cream shop that caters to all ages (and taste buds). With flavors ranging from Toasted Almond - which I SWEAR tastes exactly like an almond croissant - to Chocolate Brownie to Lemon Poppy Seed Cake, Betty Rae's truly has a flavor for everyone. The space was briefly occupied by a serve-yourself frozen yogurt place, which has been completely transformed. The only visible sign of the former tenant are the cutouts in the wall where frozen yogurt was served, which have since been converted to activity stations for children. There is even a fishbowl-like window into the kitchen so kids (or adults willing to crouch down for a peek) can watch in wonder as the magic happens behind the scenes. The very last activity cube holds a picture of Betty Rae, her brother, and a collie - a photo that became even more charming when owner David Friesen disclosed that no one knows whose dog it was.
Although they have not even been open for two months, they already have a cult-like following around Kansas City. Stop in and order a scoop of ice cream in one of their homemade waffle cones and you will quickly understand why. With unique flavors, a welcoming environment, and top quality ice cream, Betty Rae's is redefining KC ice cream. Owner, David Friesen, was kind enough to meet with me (while feeding me more ice cream samples than I care to admit).
1. How did you and your family end up in Kansas City?
My wife was born and raised here, and we wanted to have kids around family so we moved back, after stints together in Columbia, MO and Columbus, OH.
2. Do you find your baking background translates well into the ice cream world?
Absolutely, it trained me to be much better and more organized in the kitchen, and how to make large quantities of food while still keeping quality high. It also allowed me to be creative with pairings and sundaes (like the Brownie Sundae and the Strawberry Shortcake we have currently), and taught me a lot about self-educating and always, always trying to make the next thing more perfect than the last.
3. Where do you draw inspiration for your less traditional flavors? Do you have a flavor combination you are most proud of? Is there one you are working on developing now?
The Lavender Honey is something that we've been doing for eight years now, so it has a special place for me. Otherwise, I think of baked goods I've had, flavor memories, or even just words that occur randomly together. I did a Pineapple Thai Basil flavor entirely because I happened to see Pineapples and Thai Basil within a few moments of each other at a store and it worked out pretty well.
4. How many flavors do you have on any given day, and how often do those flavors change?
We have 24 at all times, as well as ice cream sandwiches, sundaes, floats and more. We keep most of the flavors around but rotate a few very often, to keep things interesting.
5. I tried my first ice cream at 6 months old (and I pretty much haven't stopped eating it since!). Does your daughter get to taste-test your flavors?
Yep! She had her first ice cream a month ago and she made a terrible face (probably because of the cold on her gums), but once she could taste it she couldn't get enough. Still doesn't like the temperature of it though.
6. What are your future plans for the store?
I just want to keep doing what we're doing, the response has been overwhelmingly positive. I have no desire to get into mail order or move anywhere outside of KC, that's all I can say for now.
7. My last question is always the same! What are some of your favorite spots in Kansas City?
My two favorite places are Sasha's downtown and Heirloom in Brookside, I can vouch for the quality of both since I worked at them! Carter, the pastry chef at Sasha's is one of the most skilled people I've ever worked with, and at Heirloom they use phenomenal ingredients to make great food. Of course I love Novel, Affaire and some of the other great spots in town, and for bread Ibis is almost San Francisco level. Thou Mayest does awesome coffee and is a great bar in the evenings, and we use their coffee in our ice cream and drinks. The one dish I can't stop eating though, is the Koshary from Aladdin's on 39th. It's just lentils, rice, onions, herbs and spices, it's so simple and so satisfying, especially during a long day of making ice cream.