It was approximately seven years ago that the wheels … or more accurately, “feet” … were put into motion that led Georgina Herzog to take over operation of Cool Shoppe Ice Cream, which she has since renamed Happy Feet Cool Shoppe Ice Cream Cafe.
At the time a resident of Highland City, she and her family used to stop into the parlor on an occasional basis. It was then that she learned the owners, Sue and Howard Hampton were interested. However, the cost then made it impossible to consider.
That all changed several months ago. The Herzogs’ daughter-in-law had gone to work at Appleseeds, a boutique mercantile store in downtown Bartow on East Main Street, opposite the Polk County History Center. While visiting her daughter-in-law, Herzog decided to pay a visit to the ice cream parlor after 19 years. Her husband stopped by soon after.
“Next thing I knew, I had an ice cream shop,” said Herzog. What transpired was the Herzogs and the Hamptons got to talking, which was followed by Howard Hampton opening up the parlor’s books, and an agreement was struck.
That was in September, in which the Hamptons trained Herzog. In October, Herzog took over operations.
“I had been looking to go into business,” she said. “The ice cream shop seemed right up my alley.”
In the past, she said, she used to dress up as a clown and make balloon objects for children at parties, street festivals and other similar events. However, a neck injury put a stop to that, which saddened Herzog because she enjoys the presence of children.
There have been a number of surprises since taking over, she said. Most of them were related to what she needed to do in order to be allowed to run the parlor.
“All these permits. That kind of threw me,” said Herzog. Plus she had to take a food service test.
What she has also found surprising is the difference in preferences between children and adults.
“The kids have their certain flavors,” she said. For the most part they prefer ice cream that’s colorful. One of the flavors proving most popular with children is one called Superman, a mix of ice cream containing the colors of Superman’s uniform: red, blue and yellow. As for the adults? “A lot of adults go for ‘caramel-ly’ or chocolate ice cream.”
Since taking over, Herzog has made some additions. A friend of hers has her own nursery and cans a lot of her produce, such as pickles, relishes, salsas, and jams. These are now prominently displayed and for sale.
“I said, we’ll try it, see how it works,” said Herzog. That’s not all. “I’m in the process of doing chocolate tastings.”
She also will cater birthday parties and furnish everything but the cake. However, another friend will be teaching her how to make an ice cream cake, so if it is an ice cream cake that’s desired, that will be possible.
Despite knowing she cannot truly compete with the restaurants on East Main Street, Herzog does offer light fare.
“There are two types of grilled cheese sandwiches,” she said. “I also serve an all-beef hot dog. They’re really super good. Not anything you can get here.” She also offers nachos and cheese.
One of the challenges Herzog faces is the fact that Happy Feet Ice Cream Cafe is located at 139 S. Central Ave., a side street off East Main Street.
“People don’t know I’m here,” Herzog said. “The word needs to get out.”
Toward that end, she said she plans on extending hours, such on the nights when Movies on the Lawn takes place, and when there are downtown events such as Friday Fest and other street festivals.