Cold Stone Creamery grand opening features prizes, Tigers pitcher

The grand opening of the new Cold Stone Creamery store in Taylor will feature delicious prizes for the first 100 customers and a visit from Detroit Tigers pitcher Nate Robertson.

The celebration is scheduled to start at 11 a.m. February 2 at the new ice cream shop located at 23360 Eureka Road, between Pardee and Telegraph roads, in the new commerce center near the Taylor Meijer store.

Cold Stone’s premium ice cream is made fresh daily. The shop is designed to allow visitors to combine the ice cream with a variety of fruit, nuts, chocolate, candies and other goodies to make a customized creation.

Ice cream cones, cups, shakes and cakes are available in four sizes: “like it,” “love it,” “gotta have it” and “kids creations” for those 12 and under. The shop also features a wide variety of tasty and healthy smoothies.

An energetic and entertaining staff of “mix masters” prepares the creations on a frozen granite stone, giving the shop its name.

Early arrivers on February 2 will receive memorable prizes. The first five customers will receive free ice cream once a week for six months. The next 10 get a free homemade ice cream cake. The next 35 receive free “love-it” (medium) size ice cream creations. The next 50 get a free homemade waffle cone.

Tigers pitcher Robertson is scheduled to serve as a guest mix master on opening day. While Robertson is not scheduled to sign autographs, he will distribute pre-signed photos to families that make sizable purchases to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Mark Kraatz, who owns the shop with fellow Allen Park natives Joe Millner and Andrew Haney, said Make-A-Wish is one of Robertson’s favorite charities. In fact, half of all proceeds from Cold Stone’s opening day will benefit the foundation.

Kraatz said he discovered Cold Stone, the shop’s delicious ice cream and its unique and high-energy service during a visit to New Mexico.

A longtime coach, teacher and athletic director at Inter-City Baptist School in Allen Park, Kraatz approached a friend, Haney, who was youth pastor at Inter-City. They formed a partnership with another friend, Millner, who is retired from Ford Motor Co. Four years later, they are opening their first store.

“Cold Stone is a ‘top 25’ franchise,” Kraatz said. “It’s the best ice cream around – the Starbucks of ice cream. I am ice cream lover. This is the ultimate ice cream experience.”

Operations Manager Jake Millner said 40 full- and part-time jobs were created at the site and more hires could take place in the future. Employees – many of whom are required to sing while they work – are required to “audition” during their job interview.

“The service is unique and high energy,” Kraatz said. “There is singing and it’s a fun place to be.”

Those who visit the store to pick up an ice cream cake, gift card or “grab and go ice cream” never have to wait in line, Kraatz said. Made-to-order ice cream cakes can be ordered by calling (734) 287-2900. Regular store hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

The partners said they chose Taylor to open their first business venture because of the community and the location.

“We really liked the location,” Kraatz said. “We’re on a busy corner with high visibility. Taylor is a booming city and is building. The Southland Mall is a huge draw. The restaurants in the area bring in traffic as well. The city has nightlife.”

Jake Millner, who is Joe’s son and played on Kraatz-coached teams at Inter-City, said: “We have a superior product. Our ice cream is made fresh every day. We have superior service and hire the best kids.”

Satisfaction is guaranteed.

“If you don’t love what you ordered, we’ll find one you do,” Millner said. “If you like ice cream, you’ll come here all the time.”