It's been the same thing for nearly 30 years: scooping ice cream, making cakes and waiting on customers. And Chuck Keller loves it. The 42-year-old Carvel franchisee has been serving ice cream since he was 11, at his parents' first Carvel franchise in Miami Beach, Florida.
Keller went to college and came back to manage his parents' store after graduation. "I was running it from the day I got there, so I figured I might as well own it and make a future for myself," says Keller, who officially took over the franchise in 1991.
Working in the same store for 19 years, Keller has become something of a fixture in his community. His store makes the most of the ice cream birthday cakes for area restaurants and entertainment centers. In addition, Keller sets up ice cream kiosks at local school carnivals. "A girl [came] into my store the other day [and said]: 'Do you remember me? I used to come in when I was 2 years old. I'm going to college next week,' " he says. "You watch these people grow up, and then you get to know their kids. It's a great [feeling of] community."
Learn more about Carvel in Entrepreneur.com's Franchise Zone.
And it's a good feeling of family as well. Keller's wife often helps out in the store, and his two young children are frequent visitors. "I can see my wife and kids at any time," he says. "When I was a kid and my parents had an ice cream store, I thought that was pretty cool."
Like Keller, others will soon join the growing Carvel family. The company, an East Coast favorite, is currently embarking on an expansion plan across the country.