Tastee Freez stands the test of time

  • Friday, January 3, 2014

photographs by Taylor Griffith/Journal Scene Last month the Tastee Freez celebrated its 30 year anniversary under the ownership of Ethan “Bill” Blevins.

Photos

“Bill” Blevins was a recently retired United States Air Force serviceman looking for a new career path. Then he found the Tastee Freez on Boone Hill Road, and the rest was history.

Last month the fast food burger joint located across from Summerville High School celebrated its 30th anniversary under Blevins’ leadership.

He said the restaurant was built and first opened in 1971, but after changing hands between several different owners, he bought the struggling business because “I was looking for something to do and always wanted to get my own business.”

The 30 years hasn’t always been easy for Blevins though.

“When I first opened I used to be there open-to-close, seven days a week. I only had three or four employees.”

He also said learning to work with his employees, increased competition from other local businesses and a destructive fire set by a former employee in 2007 stand out as some of the biggest challenges he faced. But the Tastee Freez is still standing, and Blevins said that’s because he worked to make the best out of the hard times.

Like when he rebuilt the restaurant after the fire, adding a new roof and doubling the size of the location from 34 to 68 seats.

As most restaurants do, he credits the customers as the cornerstone of the business’s success.

“We get a lot of customers, a lot of people have been coming to us for a long time, but the school helps us a lot too. During the day the teachers come in for lunch because the students aren’t allowed to leave school, but after the day is over the kids come by.”

But Blevins said there have been some other events that have also helped grow the business over time.

“My biggest improvement over the years was adding a drive-through in 1993 or 1994. In six months it doubled my business.”

He also said updating the menu continuously has helped attract new customers.

“One of the things that really improved our sales was adding our double cheese burger and double cheese burger combo.”

The menu is littered with other customer favorites though, including the Big T Burger, all natural Freezee ice cream shakes, and the restaurant’s mustard-based barbeque, which Blevins said is his favorite.

The Tastee Freez franchise began in 1950 and grew expansively in that decade with nearly 1,800 locations in 1957, but dwindled after the rise of other fast food names such as McDonald’s and Burger King. Today there are 34 locations nation-wide, including Blevins’ restaurant.

While some may find the statistics discouraging, Blevins said he is most proud of owning one of the remaining Tastee Freez locations.

“I think it’s a good business, I just like the idea that it opened in 1950 and is still going pretty good,” he said.

For him, it’s going so well that he is already making plans for the next 30 years and is looking to open a second location in Summerville.

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