Living in Oak Park, I have heard great things about Brown Cow Ice Cream Parlor in neighboring Forest Park. Anytime someone is looking for a great place for a birthday party or celebration, Brown Cow is the first to be recommended
As the pandemic started to become more and more serious, I was greatly impressed with the quick thinking and innovation of the owner, Connie. In no time at all, she had a walk-up window set up so locals could still get our ice cream fix (or delicious cakes!) while remaining safe. I was able to chat with Connie and hear more about what they are doing:
How has your business changed over the last two months?
The Brown Cow Ice Cream Parlor is a completely different company than it was two months ago. Typically this time of year my shop will be filled with 1100 customers per day and I would have 22 employees working between the parlor, birthday parties, catering and the bakery. This old time soda fountain would be bustling with children’s sugared up giggles, neighbors seeing each other in line, college kids coming home from school for spring break, the sound of sodas pouring, shakes mixing and children’s birthday parties going on in the back room. It would smell like homemade waffle cones and fresh baked pie.
Today, we have four employees and serve a limited menu out a tiny walk up window I created to serve people safely outside our shop. We still provide the same level of amazing old fashioned service, but all our homemade ice cream and pie is pre-packed by our team so that we don’t have to touch your food, or you at this time. All of our team members wear masks and gloves but do our best to show our smiles with our eyes!
We were quick to adapt and built a window and also created a way to bring birthday parties TO YOU. We package a birthday box for the birthday person and deliver individual birthday cakes and ice cream to all of their local friends who plan to join them online to celebrate. Additionally, we HOST online parties for kids 6 and under to make it easy for parents to give their kids a wonderful celebration.
Every day is different and we are nimble and will adapt. Much of this we’ll carry with us when we are able to re-open our whole parlor again.
What has been your biggest challenge?
The biggest challenge is meeting the needs of our customers in a 4x6 space and a tiny window. I have had to create more technology around our old fashioned ice cream shop and get online ordering, delivery and payments available via our website.
Tell us something good that has happened!
It has all been good. We have evolved and learned new skills and created some awesome new product lines. My employees have gained incredible knowledge and skills on how to adapt and be nimble in an unpredictable and ambiguous work environment.
How can people support you right now?
Although we are making it work and coming up with new ideas – our income is less than ¼ of our typical income coming out of our very slow winter months. We still have huge bills to pay and people can support us by purchasing Pint of the Month or Quart of the Month club card online on our website browncowicecream.com OR, come pick up a sundae kit to take home for dessert. Think of us to host your online party – to include cake and ice cream for all of your guests. We LOVE that we’ve had the opportunity to be part of your lives for the last 17 years and are working so hard to still be here for many many more to come!
You can find Brown Cow Ice Cream Parlor at:
7347 Madison St, Forest Park, IL 60130
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1775 W Cortland Court, Suite A