Betty Rae’s Ice Cream Shop opens on Wornall

How do I know I’m not the only person who passed the Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt shop, tucked into the retail building at 7140 Wornall Road, and, without bothering to stop, thought, What a strange place for a frozen yogurt store?

I know because Orange Leaf, a franchise operation, is already gone.

Emptied of soft-serve handles and other chain-venue accoutrement, the address is about to reopen with a new tenant. On March 24, Betty Rae’s Ice Cream Shop, serving house-made ice cream, sorbet and cookies, sets out to make Wornall commuters like me actually pull over for a bite.

The owners of the venue, 34-year-old former bread baker David Friesen and his wife, Mary Nguyen (a former newspaper reporter who now works for United Way), have great hopes for this location. “It’s close to some very successful restaurants and in the middle of a neighborhood with lots of families,” Friesen says. “And Wornall Road is a well-traveled street.”

The shop will stock 24 flavors, some of them vegan. The dairy ice cream will have 14 percent butterfat, and customers will order it the old-fashioned way: pointing at their choices from the other side of a shiny glass freezer case (the most expensive equipment in a store like this). Friesen, who has worked at both Sasha’s Baking Co. and Heirloom Bakery & Hearth, is also baking his own scratch cookies and making waffle cones by hand with a Belgian-style Krumkake waffle iron.

The cubbyholes that once housed frozen-yogurt machines have been repurposed. One is now a window peering into the kitchen, one is a bulletin board, and another will be a chalkboard. Friesen, who was born in Romania to American parents, and lived in Boston and Hawaii before his family settled in Columbia, Missouri (where his father is a professor of early Christianity), has a solid background in baking, even though he never attended culinary school; he majored in English Literature at the University while working at Sparky’s Homemade Ice Cream.

To conserve money (the couple has a 6-month-old daughter), Friesen has been doing most of the interior labor himself (with help from his brother-in-law Vincent Nguyen, of Woodchop KC), including rehabbing some of the used equipment and building tables. “This has been my dream,” he says. “I did a lot of research before signing the lease on this space.”

Friesen has applied for a liquor license — for patrons who may want a “grown-up milkshake,” he says — and will serve espresso., coffee drinks and affogato, that combination of espresso and ice cream. “We’ll have water and soda pop, too,” he says. “I’m going to offer a selection from Mass Street Soda.”

Betty Rae’s, named for Friesen’s maternal grandmother, will be open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

Other restaurant news: After waiting several months, chef and restaurateur Shanita Bryant finally received her liquor license on March 11 for her Magnolia’s Contemporary Southern Bistro. She’ll now offer mimosas during her popular Sunday brunch.

Categories: Food & Drink