Cooling off with a cone
Summer Freeze has a new owner but its sweet traditions continue
By Linda A. Thompson-Odum email@example.com
Most locals would not be able to tell that Summer Freeze has a new owner for its 17th season. There are a few clues, but not many people would notice. Owner Stephen Kassaras stills serves the quality food and ice cream that customers know and love.
Cars come into the parking lot in a steady stream on a weekday afternoon in spite of the ongoing Fisherville Road construction, though Kassaras thinks that has impacted his business somewhat. And the recent rains haven’t helped matters.
“June was terrible. The rain was the wound and the construction was the salt in the wound,” he said.
Kassaras bought the business from Dave and Deb Newell last September, and worked with them until the season ended in October to learn the ropes. He uses the same vendors and didn’t change the menu because the Newells had taken great care to select the best-quality foods possible. However, he does admit there were a few glitches this past spring when he would forget a step or two as he cooked up a dish. But summer brought with it the return of many long-time employees, so now the kitchen runs as smoothly as before.
“My manager has been here for three years,” Kassaras said. “These are the same kids that have worked here before, and they are the hardest-working people you’ll ever come across. They don’t squawk about anything.”
Kassaras is new to the food-service business. Before he purchased Summer Freeze, he owned a few GNC franchises in the area and worked in commercial real estate. His partner bought him out of the franchise business, and the Newells had come to him to sell the restaurant, which sparked his change in careers.
While Kassaras left the menu the same, he did make some improvements to the property. He repaired a fence on one side of the parking lot, and did some landscape work around the outdoor seating area. He also added more picnic tables. He plans to one day put new siding on the building, but he said, “I don’t want to take away from the atmosphere.”
The change customers did notice is that the restaurant is now closed on Sundays. That’s a big deal in the ice cream business since statistically Sunday is when the most ice cream is sold. Kassaras said he has more people ask him about that than anything else, and some even offered to pay him to stay open. But his Christian beliefs compelled him to take Sundays off, and he believes that the one day of rest and family time each week will help him avoid feeling burned out at season’s end.
“I’m just trying to be an obedient Christian,” he said.
Summer Freeze is well known for the size of its ice cream cones, which can go as high as 24 ounces. The selection includes six Hood soft serves, four of which change every week, and between 30 to 35 hard ice cream varieties from Bliss Brothers Dairy in Attleboro, Mass.
“Kids will order a large cone and we have to ask them if they’re sure they want a large. The ice cream is bigger than they are,” Kassaras said.
The restaurant’s food selection ranges from hot dogs, burgers and grinders to fried fish, seafood and chicken fingers or wings. Weekly specials can be found of the restaurant’s Web site and include items such as the popular Friday haddock dinner ($6.75) and the Saturday hot dog special — a grilled hot dog, fries and small drink ($3.)
“I want people to know that they are buying good, high-quality food and getting a great value here,” Kassaras said.