You and your family own seven Pudge Brothers Pizza joints. What made you decide to get involved with Ben and Jerry's ice cream?
It's kind of a long story. I was in the Downtown store one night and a girl called up and said, “Can you make Chunky Monkey pizza?” [Chunky Monkey is Ben and Jerry's banana-flavored ice cream with fudge chunks and walnuts.] I had no idea what she was talking about but she said, “Can you put some Ben and Jerry's on the pizza and make it?” We get a lot of crazy calls. I said, I didn't think that would be too good but it got me thinking about Ben and Jerry's. A few weeks after that I read the news of Ben and Jerry's wanting to expand into franchising their Scoop Shops and I called them and we began talking. Their main concern was that we really demonstrate our social involvement in the community. It's a socially conscious brand. They practice what they preach, they actually do make a conscious effort to make a change in the business, they treat their employees very well and their product really kicks butt. I think that in this day and age, with the struggles [Pudge Brothers] has had against the big pizza chains, I think if you're going to sell something you'd really better believe in it.
Pudge Brothers has been delivering pints of ice cream for a while though, right?
Actually, not that long. We just started at the beginning of the year. We've already sold something like 400 pints and we haven't really even advertised that we do it.
You recently bought out two Marble Slab ice cream stores.
Right. We purchased those from a guy, Chad Everett, who's also doing Nothing But Noodles [restaurants]. He really did a good job putting those [Marble Slab] stores together so we felt good about it. We're also building a store from the ground up over at Paseo del Norte and Coors. That one will have a drive-up window.
Oh great. So you don't have to expend a single calorie to get your ice cream.
Actually, Ben and Jerry's is coming out with a low-carb product called Carb Karma. There are three flavors of it, chocolate, vanilla Swiss almond and—I don't know if you've seen Half-Baked, the flavor with cookie dough? I don't know how they've made it low-carb but they did.
With Splenda [the new artificial sweetener]?
Yeah, it's all Splenda. The whole pint only has 15 grams of carbs or something like that.
Low-carb ice cream. We're all in trouble now. So are you trying to open all three of these Scoop Shops at once?
No, well, they'll be close. The goal for the first one is March 1, that will be up at Montgomery and Juan Tabo, near Il Vicino. The Academy and Wyoming store will probably open within a month of that. The Westside location probably won't be open until this summer just because it takes time to build something from the ground up.
How is a Ben and Jerry's Scoop Shop different from something like a Marble Slab?
The biggest difference between us and places like Marble Slab and Cold Stone is that they make their ice cream on premises—we get our ice cream straight from Vermont. And the product line is extrememely different. There are no mix-ins or anything. It's all already mixed in. Ben and Jerry's calls it the marinating process. See, taking vanilla ice cream and just adding candy bar chunks, the flavor doesn't permeate. It still tastes just like vanilla ice cream. Ben and Jerry's is also 35 percent more dense than their competitors. Go to the grocery store and see for yourself. A pint of Ben and Jerry's weighs almost as much as a quart of Dreyer's. Go look in the store.
Doesn't “35 percent more dense” mean that Ben and Jerry's has way more fat?
Yes and no. It depends on the flavor. It does have a much higher butterfat content. Häagen Dasz does too. Of course they don't have all their own dairies and all that like Ben and Jerry's does.
So what will the Scoop Shops be like inside?
They will look very hip, very colorful, with cow murals on the walls. It'll be a lot of fun.
Will you sell the Peace Pops [frozen ice cream popsicles] and stuff there?
Yeah, we'll have the Peace Pops and the new S'mores.
Yeah, it's like a s'more except it's with ice cream and it's got a chocolate covered graham cracker.
God help us all.