At The Spotted Cow With Frank Abdnour
by Bill More
His enthusiasm is truly contagious. Frank Abdnour, age 55, is the proud owner and chef at The Spotted Cow Creamery and Creations in Peoria, www.thespottedcow.net –
He loves ice cream, and has always loved ice cream, and will always love ice cream.
Did I tell you he loves ice cream? Now you know why he does what he does but you don’t yet know how.
Frank left a business in Colorado to return to Peoria in 1984. He hand-built an ice cream cart to sell ice cream on the Bradley University campus. It was such a successful venture that he was able to finance The Spotted Cow in 1987 and he was well on his way. Since their start they have won numerous awards from the Taste of Peoria, the Reader’s Choice Award from the Journal Star, and the coveted Illinois Magazine Best Ice Cream Award in 2002. Frank does have a degree in Ice Creamology (really) from Penn State University, and he earned it in 1991 --- Yes, really !
When he first got into premium and full-flavored ice cream the trend in Central Illinois was low-fat yogurt, a new chain called Buzzie’s, and other ‘healthy’ options. I think he knew what he was doing. His business now thrives where others have left the scene.
He has a true passion for ice cream (see paragraph #1, above). He said he didn’t know enough to quit. His parents taught him a lot but mostly how to work, and he is yet another successful working owner in the restaurant business. He is honored to have staff that has stayed with him for years due to their mutual respect, fair wages, and free ice cream! There is no job he would ask them to do that he would not do.
Frank knew that with such a seasonal business he would be swamped in the Spring and Summer but had more time in the Fall and Winter. As a result he started offering Soups and Sandwiches and the magic continued.
Abdnour is convinced that the trend in the future will be toward more locally-owned places with working owners. Even when he and his wife travel they seek out local places they can enjoy and experience something new. If you can go to a chain place in Peoria, it will be the same food as the chain place in Miami. Why bother?
He is surprised at the huge increase in food costs and is doing all he can to provide fabulous food at a reasonable price. His Italian Beef sandwich (The Spotted Cow version, NOT the Chicago Beef version) is extremely popular and they go through 300 pounds of beef per week --- that’s a lotsa sandwiches. For their burgers all the beef is ground in house on a fresh daily basis, and no sauces are made in advance.
While The Spotted Cow does little advertising they do tons and tons of community support and promote the store with FUN promotions. In the past they have had guests “Moo” for ice cream and get a free cone. He has also made a unique Sweet Corn flavored ice cream for David Letterman. He always finds FUN ways to get exposure, and his Central Illinois customers have been very, very supportive, and a thankful Frank appreciates that more than anyone knows. He considers his customers to be the Greatest People in the World since they allow him and his family a wonderful way to support themselves and their staff and still provide great food and great ice cream.