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Stoddard's Frozen Custard in Kent has changed a lot over the past 65 years.
But despite a lot of modern conveniences like an electronic menu and website, accepting credit cards for the first time and implementing a "Custard Cruiser" to take its treats to festivals and parties, the important things haven't changed, said Lisa Kaye, owner of the business.
"We still make our custard the old fashioned way," said Kaye, a member of the second family to own the stand in its history.
Stoddard's will celebrate its 65th anniversary today, offering small cones for $1.65. Banana, the most popular "flavor of the day," will be offered along with vanilla, chocolate and a variety of hard ice creams.
Lea and Lyle Stoddard founded the business in 1948 on S.R. 59 in what was then Franklin Township. After the first season, the business -- building and all -- relocated a short distance to its current location at 1321 W. Main Street, at the Stow-Kent border. By the second season, Lyle Stoddard quit his job at a machine shop to work full-time beside his wife.
After 19 years in business, Stoddard's changed hands when it was purchased by Daniel Kaye, a regular customer. Kaye, a construction contractor, renovated the building and reopened in 1968.
Kaye and his partner, Dale Hughes, also operated a second location at the University of Akron for six years in the 1980s.
When Kaye died in 1983, 18-year-old Lisa stepped up to fill her dad's shoes. At first, she was assisted by her grandparents, Peter and Agnes Kaye; her mother, Louanne, and siblings Tracey Melvin and Dan Kaye. Now, Kaye operates the business with the help of about a dozen employees.
In addition to its signature frozen custard, Stoddard's also offers a variety of hard ice cream flavors, sherbet, yogurt and dairy-free sorbet. The hard ice cream includes some no sugar added varieties, and as many as 40 flavors can be offered at one time.
The business also offers a website -- stoddardsfrozencustard.com -- including a mobile version so customers can check out the menu while standing in line. The "Custard Cruiser" hit the road in 2006, and makes regular stops to festivals, parties and weddings throughout the region. Customer emails and the store's Facebook page announce the flavor of the day.
"You don't have to drive by and look at the sign like you did long ago," she said.
Recently, the business started accepting credit cards as a convenience to its customers.
In addition to a variety of ice cream based treats, Stoddard' s also sells tshirts and hats, many to former Kentites.
The business is seasonal, open from March to October, and a possible "winter project" will be to start taking orders for the clothing items online.
"We have a pretty good customer base," she said. "We see the same customers every week and they recommend us."
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Congratulations to Stoddards for their long time in business and delicious treats. However, I stopped there not too long ago for a simple, small soft-serve ice cream cone and went into sticker shock at the price.
Sorry, your ice cream is delicious but those of us on a fixed income are shut out from eating your wondertul treats. Hopefully your business can maintain itself with a more lucrative crowd. You have forgotten about those people who helped build your business. Too bad.