For Cole Kesler, owning a Handel’s Homemade Ice Cream franchise location is a family tradition.
Cole and Rachel Kesler attended Brigham Young University before graduating earlier this year. Cole Kesler made the move to Utah County from Laguna Beach, California, where he was born and raised.
Following in his parents’ footsteps, Cole moved to Provo to attend Brigham Young University, where he met his wife, Rachel.
Rachel grew up in Utah County her entire life. Rachel Kesler’s parents also attended Brigham Young University.
“Utah County is home to us,” she said.
Cole Kesler was introduced to Handel’s Ice Cream 10 years ago when his parents decided to turn their love for the frozen dairy dessert into a business and began researching options. As a franchisee, Cole Kesler’s parents could have the freedom to serve their communities homemade ice cream with the support of a larger entity.
The family started in California with one store and dreams of becoming a family ice cream shop.
Rachel Kesler knew about Handel’s Ice Cream long before she met her husband. She and a few of her friends discovered Handel’s during a trip to California, but she didn’t think of franchising until she met Cole Kesler.
Cole and Rachel Kesler fell in love with the ice cream shop chain the moment they discovered it, even having the shop cater their wedding almost one year ago.
After spending all of last summer working in one of his parents’ locations in California, Cole and Rachel Kesler knew they wanted to franchise and knew the perfect place to do it.
“We thought, ‘We should bring this to Utah,’” she said. “We knew people in Utah would love it.”
Now, his parents own four locations in Southern California, and Cole and Rachel Kesler are opening their first in Utah County alongside his parents.
The young couple originally planned to have the location up and running by July 2019, but once the deadline grew closer and closer, they decided to postpone the grand opening to May of this year.
When federal and state government officials began to announce the prohibition of dine-in operations and the complete closure of some businesses, Cole and Rachel Kesler continued on with the hope that everything would blow over before their new opening date.
“I think the nerve factor has definitely gone away since the state opened on May 1,” he said. “I think we’re coming in at a really good time. We’re going to try to keep people safe, but also serve them some great ice cream.”
Everyday, Handel’s Ice Cream provides 48 homemade ice cream flavors from the basics, such as chocolate, to exclusives, like Monkey Business. Each franchisee has 150 flavors that are rotated seasonally. The original ice cream shop was founded in 1945 in Youngstown, Ohio, when Alice Handel began serving homemade ice cream in her husband’s gas station.
Most Handel’s locations are walk-up only, where customers are served from a to-go window. In the West, locations have walk-in capabilities with ice cream bars and indoor seating.
“During those colder months, we’re going to make sure we’re keeping our customers warm so they can eat their ice cream,” Cole Kesler said.
The couple will be celebrating the grand opening of their first location Wednesday at 1249 E. Main St. #110 in Lehi. A second Utah County location is already in the works, and Cole and Rachel Kesler signed a new lease on a permanent location in Orem.
The Orem location is currently set to open in September.