Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Taylor's Ice Cream offers 48 flavors -- something for everyone!

Ron Klein, co-owner of Taylor's Ice Cream Parlor along with his wife, Margaret, didn't start out as an ice cream man, but he couldn't see himself doing anything else now that's he's been in the business for 15 years.

"The years go quickly, but it's fun," Klein says. "It's nice to do something that people enjoy. It's a comfort food."

Klein's foray into the ice cream business wasn't too comforting: "Originally, I worked for my father for 20 years in the scrap-metal and recycling business in Hillsborough, and he sold his business in '87. Then, I went to work for a scrap-metal business in Plainfield and was laid off there in April '92. I couldn't find a job for a couple of years, (and ended up) delivering newspapers at 2 a.m."

With three sons — one of them in college — Klein knew he needed to find a more lucrative job. He began scanning the newspapers for a possible franchise, and he found one in Pennsylvania.

"I saw an ice cream franchise for sale, and I took a ride there the next day," Klein says, "I talked to the people, and I brought my wife, and we put down a deposit on the store, and then, my wife started having second thoughts, big time."

After some discussions with her, Klein gave up the idea and was out of work again. A year later, he found that the place in Pennsylvania was still for sale, which he acknowledges should have given pause.

"I had to take out home equity loans because we had no money, and then we had to go to Los Angeles for three weeks of training. It was kind of a nightmare," he says.

The nightmare consisted of suspicious franchise owners who constantly sent people to check up on him, the inability to really make a profit on the place and a rising crime rate around the location.

But things got much better for Klein and his wife when they took over Taylor's Ice Cream Parlor in Chester.

"One hundred percent better," Klein says.

He now makes his own ice cream — 48 flavors — and he also helps out the community by donating ice cream, showing people how to make it and hiring people from the area.

"We probably employ more people here than most businesses in town, especially in the summer when we're busier," Klein says, "In the summer, we might have three, four people working, and I have time so we can get customers in and out quickly, so a lot of people don't have a problem waiting."

His store's ice cream flavors feature many different variations such as chocolate chip cookie dough, pumpkin — seasonal, around Halloween — and Smurf, which is blue-colored vanilla with marshmallows and chocolate chips.

Klein also is conscious of food allergies and adjusts his customer service around it.

"If a mother comes in with her child, and he's allergic to anything, we'll clean the scoopers we use for ice cream and sanitize them before we scoop anything," Klein says. "And if there is any question, I'll break out a brand new tub of ice cream."

With all the equipment he's added to the store, he also can boast that he serves real soft-serve ice cream, as opposed to what many other vendors sell.

"In order to be called ice cream, there has to be about 10 percent butterfat in the mix, and with our hard mixer, we get the best there is, which is 60 percent," Klein says.

"And with soft ice cream, it's 10 percent. There's a lot of places that will advertise soft-serve, but they won't say so because it's not really ice cream. Legally, they can't say it's ice cream. It's like ice melt."

Klein also sells ice cream cakes that can be bought immediately, or, if you can give them time, they can make you a cake out of any flavor.

"We always have 8-inch and 10-inch rounds, readily available to personalize when somebody walks in the door," Margaret Klein says. "But if somebody gives us 24 hour notice, we can combine any flavors and do specials. If they want a special thing on it, we can do it. We just need 24 hours."

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