MANKATO — MANKATO — All the equipment was in place, aprons and hats were printed with the Mom & Pop’s logo, about a dozen scoopers had been trained to build the perfect cone and around 500 Facebook fans were waiting to line up outside the door.
They were about as close as they could be to pulling the trigger on their plans to start serving coffee, candy and cool treats today, but the owners of the Riverfront Drive ice cream shop decided Saturday to close the business before it ever opened.
Tammey and Erin Gatchell said Sunday that the decision was based on time, not finances. The couple already owns one business, Gatchell Imaging Products, and realized Mom & Pop’s ice cream shop was going to put too much of a strain on that business and their family, which includes three children between the ages of 9 and 16.
“It’s bittersweet for us because we were truly looking forward to this,” Tammey Gatchell said Sunday. “It’s just that when we looked at how much time we would be spending there, it just didn’t work for us.”
The part-time employees who had been hired to staff the store finished their training Saturday night. It was also Saturday when the Gatchells had a “huge heart to heart talk,” according to the business’ Facebook page.
The employees were called Sunday and told they wouldn’t be needed because the Gatchells had decided not to open.
Now the Gatchells plan to sell the business, in which they have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars and thousands of hours of work.
“The majority of them totally understood,” Tammey Gatchell said. “The closer we got to the end of the project, we were taking so much time away from the family.”
There has been a ice cream cone-shaped, lighted Mom & Pop’s sign on the building for months. Printed signs taped to the buildings doors and windows more recently said the business will open in June. The business’ Facebook page, which was created in September, has about 500 followers and has been showing pictures of tasty-looking ice cream flavors for months.
On Sunday, a ladder stood in the middle of the finished store below a chalkboard sign that displayed the prices for coffee, ice cream treats and homemade fudge.
Tom Schneider lives in the are and bikes past the shop frequently. He said he would have stopped for a treat Sunday if the business had been open.
“There are a lot of kids who live around here who were looking forward to having an ice cream place in the neighborhood,” he said. “There’s no doubt they would have had business. I just don’t understand why they don’t open. Everybody has been talking about it and expecting it to open.”
It wasn’t an easy decision, Tammey Gatchell said. They’re hoping to find a buyer soon because the business has everything it needs in place to start doing business.
“It’s a great place, a great concept and great location,” she said. “What we definitely want people to take from this is it’s not a failure thing. It’s more of a choice about what’s right for our family.”