Ice cream is the ultimate "fun food," and Wauwatosa's neighborhood Baskin-Robbins, 1417 Wauwatosa Ave., has been serving it up with plenty of smiles for more than 50 years.
Cheryl and William Boden decided to buy the store more than 16 years ago, after Cheryl managed it and ran the shop's Summerfest operation. From the very beginning, Cheryl and her crew have been involved in the community. She served on the Wauwatosa Village Business Improvement District Board for 10 years.
"It's a good way to get to know people and other business owners," Cheryl said, and to support local events. The shop supplies the cookies and hot chocolate for the holiday light ceremony, for example. Recently, Cheryl and the young people who work in the shop helped the BID install pavers and plantings in the Root Common area.
At the annual Tosa Night Out celebration, the Baskin-Robbins store supplies more than 2,500 coupons for free Kid Cones, Cheryl said, adding that the shop likes to support local, family oriented activities.
Another annual event at the store is 31-Cent Scoop Night, which supports the local Fire Department, with firefighters pitching in to man the scoops. The local store is a franchise, and, Cheryl said, the national Baskin-Robbins organization also contributes to causes benefiting firefighters and their families. Last year, the national company donated $100,000 to the National Fallen Firefighters Fund.
Baskin-Robbins is known for its 31 flavors, but in Wauwatosa, mint chocolate chip and cookies and cream are the hands-down favorites, Cheryl said. Customers also are willing to try some of the more unusual, rotating flavors, like black licorice, grape ice, Firehouse 31 with Red Hots, and soldier swirl, a red, white and blue concoction. Children get particularly excited about blue ice cream, and the Shrek-inspired Rock and Pop Swirl - an unlikely combination of grape and sour apple flavors accented with Pop Rocks that, perhaps, only a kid could love.
Another popular item is the custom-made ice cream cake. Cheryl said she has designed birthday cakes shaped like shoes (she doesn't ask why) and Coach handbags in addition to more traditional ice cream wedding cakes and layer cakes.
"We have a lot of fun customers. If they give us an idea, we pretty much try to make it for them," she said.
She has the most fun getting to know her customers, including the "regular" who always buys an extra scoop of vanilla for her dog.
"We have some customers that we've watched their kids grow up," Cheryl said. "One has been coming in since she was a little girl and now she's working for us."
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