The newly opened Whit’s Frozen Custard in the Courtyard Shops of Wellington goes far beyond making tasty treats. The husband-and-wife proprietors, Chris and Natalie Mass, strive to bring the community together, while giving back along the way.
“We’d been looking at different markets to expand, and Wellington as a community really matches up with our core principals,” Chris Mass explained. “One of the things I learned early on is that we’re creating more than a customer experience. We’re creating memories.”
The thriving Ohio-based franchise was started by Natalie’s childhood best friend, Lisa, and her husband Chuck Whitman in 2003. The two started franchising in 2008, with expansion to Florida in 2015. Chris and Natalie Mass watched the progress, then decided it was time to open their own custard shop. They started in Stuart, and celebrated their Wellington grand opening on April 27, tantalizing the taste buds of customers with their different take on the frozen dessert.
“The difference between frozen custard and yogurt, first, is the amount of air, or overrun,” Chris Mass said. “Ice cream and yogurt have as much as 80 percent air in it. We have less than 20 percent, so we’re more dense.”
What also sets Whit’s apart from other frozen confection franchises is the small batch approach, using only the finest and freshest ingredients. It’s a daily process that starts about 3 hours before opening each day.
“First and foremost, we make the custard fresh every day,” Mass said. “We make three flavors in small batches. We continuously make it throughout the day, so it’s uber-fresh. We make a little bit, serve it, a little bit, serve it.”
Aside from vanilla and chocolate, Whit’s makes a flavor that changes daily. Along with a wide array of mix-ins, this allows guests to enjoy many combinations of the custard, which is softer than ice cream and firmer than yogurt.
“With less air, there’s a higher butterfat content,” Mass explained. “That’s actually a good kind of fat, so that gives it some of its creaminess. Then, we also use pasteurized, sweetened egg yolks, which makes for a richer version of other frozen desserts.”
The two biggest sellers are sundaes, as well as what they call “Whitsers.”
“Whitsers are where we add the toppings and blend it lightly to mix the toppings in it, but you still use a spoon,” Mass said. “We use the highest quality ingredients only.”
Toppings include fresh strawberries and blueberries, caramel, butterscotch, pecans and many more.
“The Whitmans, who started the franchise, gave us a book of 350-plus recipes for our daily flavors. We rotate new ones, but also make the favorites,” Director of Operations Amanda Bachman said.
The daily flavors run the gamut and include Maple Donut, Key Lime Pie, Bourbon Praline Pecan, Fluffer Nutter Cookie and many more. A calendar hangs on the wall, mapping out each flavor of the day for the month. The flavors, along with their descriptions, are posted on Facebook each day as well, so customers can plan their visits. There also are vegan options, made with coconut milk.
Prices start at $3.75 for a 5-ounce kids’ scoop, to a 22-ounce large Whitser for $8.75. The owners also find it extremely important to give back, including incentive programs and partnerships with schools, with what they call the “Scooper Star Award.” That’s where a student who does a good deed is rewarded with a certificate for a free single scoop, or $2 toward any other menu item.
“It’s for elementary and middle school students where they get a free kids’ scoop,” Mass said. “I distribute the certificates to administrators, free of charge, and I ask them to reward children who are being kind, generous and thoughtful. When they come into the store, we make a big deal out of it. They get to tell us what they did or what their accomplishment was.”
Creating job opportunities for young people is also important.
“We hire as young as 14 to 15. We have shift leaders who are 17 and 18 years old,” Mass said. “It gives them experience in the workforce. I’ve had some go off to college and write me to tell me how it has helped to prepare them for their future.”
Mass also extends discounts to groups within the community. In July, all healthcare industry workers and their families received 10 percent off their total. In August, its chamber members and their families. Throughout the entire summer, anyone who works for the school district gets 10 percent off their bill.
They also offer a loyalty program, where customers earn 10 percent off toward their next visit every five times they check-in. They can bank it until they have as much as 50 percent off. “It’s based on visits, not amount spent,” Mass noted.
Whit’s also features hand-packed quarts sold in their grab-and-go freezer, as well as frozen custard cakes. There’s as many as 30 different recipes that can be custom-made starting at $25. The most popular is the Buckeye Madness, which is made with peanut butter, fudge and Reese’s cups.
Mass and his wife have plans to eventually expand to Port St. Lucie and Jupiter. As for the new location, he is striving to make it a community gathering place for making memories for years to come. “Our goal is not to be in Wellington for a couple of years, but decades, so families can come for generations,” he said.
Open Monday through Sunday from 1 to 10 p.m., Whit’s Frozen Custard is located at 13880 Wellington Trace in the Courtyard Shops at the corner of Wellington Trace and Greenview Shores Blvd., next to Tijuana Flats. For more info., call (561) 855-2500 or visit www.facebook.com/whitsofwellington.