Country a’la Mode scoops out its niche

When George and Deby McQueen decided to go into business for themselves, they laid out a few ground rules: Keep it simple, keep it fun and keep the whole family involved.

They’ve done just that by opening Country a’la Mode, an ice cream palor located in the new Bethel Center.

After years of commuting from Port Orchard to Puyallup or Tacoma, the McQueens decided to stay home and do something their three children could be involved in.

“George was thinking of something we could do here in town, something that all of us could kind of be involved in,” Deby McQueen said, “and ice cream was our common desire. Everyone loves ice cream, so we decided on an ice cream parlor.”

Of course, when the McQueens heard about the opening of Bethel Center and the skating rink that will be completed in the fall, an ice parlor made even more sense.

“What’s better than an ice cream shop next to a skating rink?” George McQueen said.

But business has been booming already, the McQueens said. Open just a month, word of mouth has resulted in lines out the door as the evenings get increasing warmer.

“The first day, we didn’t even turn on the open sign and people started coming in,” George McQueen said. “We had the ice cream ready to go, so we just started serving.”

And it’s the ice cream itself that has been the big draw. There are 32 different flavors of ice cream that the McQueens get homemade daily from the Olympic Mountain Ice Cream Co. in Shelton.

“We’re one of three places that actually carry the ice cream as an ice cream shop,” Deby McQueen said. “They have over 300 hundred flavors of ice cream and can pretty much make anything you would want.”

McQueen said the store will carry 32 flavors at a time and rotate new ones in and out depending on how they are received. As for now some of the top sellers are peanut butter chocolate chip cookie dough, toasty cocoanut and Madagascar Vanilla.

And the flavors run the gamut from bubble gum flavor for the kids to Jack Daniels praline for adults, which George says has some Jack Daniel’s in it “but not enough to where I’ll have to card you.”

Of course, with all the different kinds of ice cream comes different ways to get it — like malts, shakes and banana splits along with  Dillano’s espresso and sorbets.

All the flavors are available in cones or cups and can be purchased by the quart to-go.  

Besides the 32 flavors of ice cream, Country a’la Mode offers fresh-made cookies and scones Monday through Friday and the McQueens hope to have home-made pies available soon. The cookies and scones are baked on-site each morning, and one of the favorites right off the bat seems to be the cookie ice cream sandwiches, where customers pick not only the kind of cookies used but the ice cream as well, ending up with a monster-sized treat.

The store has room to accommodate parties and small gatherings and has a television running movies for kids.

Country a’la Mode is open Monday through Friday 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. and 11 a.m. until 9:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

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