Two years ago I opened the doors of my Cool Spot hang out and snack space. We “hit the ground running” on opening day and have never looked back. Customers are attracted in increasing numbers by our 5-Star Yelp reviews and the word-of-mouth rave reviews they are getting from relatives and friends. They come back because of our high quality, cleanliness, affordability, and fun. The kids, of course, keep coming back because we really do provide a super chill place where they can hang out with their friends.
“I wanted to create something unique — a hands-on experience that I could mold to the character of the community.”
Another feature everyone likes about Cool Spot is that it provides an experience that is totally different from any other they have ever had before or will ever have again (unless other venues begin to copycat us).
One way to anybody’s heart is through his/ her stomach, so I offer refreshing slushies and soft serve Italian Ice, gelato, sorbet, custard, and the best frozen yogurt around in multiple flavors and styles. Every month I offer a delicious and unique surprise flavor.
For people watching their diet and/or health, we offer non-fat/non-dairy and gluten free versions of our taste treats. Customers wanting solid food can order gourmet cookies and waffles. Or they can dine on stuffed pretzels in three flavors including pizza, spinach feta, or jalapeno cheddar.
Everyone likes a sale, so we have a variety of daily specials including Military Mondays when we offer special prices for anyone with a military ID, followed by 2-for Tuesdays, and Guess Your Weight Wednesdays in which the challenge is to guess the weight of the contents of your serving. Thank-you Thursdays offer discounts to teachers, nurses, doctors, first responders, etc. TGIF (or Fill-up Fridays) lets you fill your cup and add toppings for five bucks. Topless Saturdays offer a 15 percent discount on any fro-yo with no toppings. Every day, from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. our Happy Hour offers 10 percent discounts for soft serve. We also have family friendly nights when we offer children small bottomless cups for $2.99.
We have recently begun to partner with John Krause, owner of Big House Beans, and now offer his fresh roasted premium coffees, specialty drinks, and lite food items. This is a favorite for people starting their morning commutes.
We encourage kids and families to hang out by creating a home-away-from-home atmosphere with board games and kids’ movies. During fair weather the service and fun can move outdoors onto our spacious patio where the family pet or service dog can be served a Yöpup doggie treat in any of four flavors including apple juice, cheddar, pumpkin bacon, or peanut butter banana. Parents are able to purchase birthday party packages with set prices for the kids, so they know going in exactly how much the celebration is going to cost.
Community involvement is a fundamental element in Cool Spot’s business plan. We partner with a number of charitable foundations and school organizations, and participate in fundraisers with such organizations as Relay for Life. We are in the process of establishing a long-term partnership with St. Jude Children’s Hospital, offering them a percentage of annual sales.
I was born and raised in the New York/New Jersey area and moved to Brentwood eight years ago for a new job. I appreciated the opportunity of getting away from the East Coast weather and pace of life, and embraced Brentwood with my whole heart for the usual reasons — family-friendliness, affordability, public safety, pleasant climate, etc.
I have a good job working for a veterinarian pharmaceuticals distributor. I like the business but wanted something more from life. I particularly wished for an opportunity to be creative, to become more involved in the community, and to do something to promote the family atmosphere that is such an important part of the Brentwood scene.
I chose the location for Cool Spot before finally settling on the kind of business I would start. I live in Shadow Lakes so I was very familiar with the small shopping center, called Shops at Country Club, on the corner of Balfour and West Country Club Drive. The center provided bagels, pizza, and a nice gathering area for students from Heritage High and Adams Middle School, which are just across Balfour. The center was underutilized, since Willy’s Bagels and Mt. Mike’s Pizza were the only two places where kids and families could hang-out. The challenge would be to create a third cool place that would complement the other two.
The location of the Shops at Country Club provides a natural go-to place for my neighbors in the Shadow Lakes and Deer Ridge subdivisions, and for students from the two schools. The center has easy access from Balfour and more than sufficient parking space. The location is also ideal because it is adjacent to the lovely Balfour Guthrie Park. Cool Spot would be a natural place for athletes to gravitate to for some treat or refreshing drink following a workout on one of the park’s tennis courts, volleyball courts, or soccer and baseball/softball fields.
I particularly wished for an opportunity to be creative, to become more involved in the community . . .
Cool Spot could never have happened except that I worked for a number of years with Aramark Corporation. The company provides food services to venues such as stadiums, businesses, healthcare facilities, etc. I was the company’s marketing director at a few Eastern Universities and charged with the task of designing food concepts that would appeal to college students hanging out for a drink or a quick bite. I missed that experience and was glad to find a way to direct that same energy and creativity towards serving our Brentwood students and their families.
I began having conversations with my neighbors and other area residents to learn what kinds of products and services would attract them. I also considered the styles of students in the two schools — the high school Gen Z post-millennials and members of Generation Alpha coming up behind them. My products and services should account for such things as their short attention span and their interest in hanging out in places offering atmospheres that are fresh and especially cool. I attended food shows and visited other parts of the Bay Area to survey the types of venues appropriate for that demographic.
I considered a few franchise opportunities, but Brentwood already has a lot of chains. They are usually nice, but the cookie-cutter style tends to be impersonal. Servers and counter people tend to conduct their work in a business-as-usual fashion, while following the standard procedures and wearing the standard costumes or clothing dictated by the corporate office. The owner might have ten or 100 of these franchises and be a resident of Houston or a native of China. On the other hand, I’m often around to make certain the place is clean, customers are happy, and our employees continue conducting themselves in a friendly and helpful manner.
I wanted to create something unique — a hands-on experience that I could mold to the character of the community. I especially wanted the flexibility of continual improvement that a franchise wouldn’t permit. As soon as I would learn how to improve on something I wanted the ability to immediately begin doing so. I also wanted to be able to adjust styles, products, and services to keep up with the constant changes that our youth culture goes through.
And I did!
Drop by Cool Spot and see for yourself how successful I was in meeting these goals!
Photos By Rox Essex