Old school eats and new school Treats at Sherald's
Working at the Malt Shop in East Carbon while growing up, Jana Olsen picked up an appreciation for the joy All-American cuisine can produce. The smiles that spring forth following the first sip of a milk shake or that refreshed look that is produced by a Fresh Lime or Vanilla Coke. These interactions came to represent happiness to Olsen, and with the purchase of Sherald's Frosty Freeze on Main Street in Price last year she became the owner of her own little piece of Americana.
"The interactions with people, that's what made me want to do this," said Olsen, addressing her decision to purchase the Main Street malt stand with partner and co-owner Ike Lee. "The nostalgia of these places make people happy, so from day one it has been my goal to produce the food they remembered from their youth."
According to Olsen, bringing strong quality control measures to the Frosty Freeze was the surest way to make sure local residents were getting the food they longed for at a malt shop. She began by insisting that the shop use 100 percent locally raised beef from Ungerman's Meats of Huntington. She also called for Halibut fillets for the shops Sea Burgers. Their ice cream is real ice cream not iced milk. The commitment to quality has paid immediate dividends as Sherald's has once again become one of the hottest hang outs in town.
"I was hoping we would get some community support with the work we planned to put in but I had no idea our community would react in the manner they have," said Olsen. "This place really gets hopping on week nights and date nights alike."
Olsen and her partner Lee had originally planned to shut the malt stand down for a few weeks to remodel and make some repairs, but when they saw just how much the work was going cost they realized they would need the shop's revenue to make the renovation possible.
The ongoing renovation includes an original painting done by Lee, repainting of the shop's exterior and interior walls, a new sign and arrow on the building. New flooring, new internal wall structures and ceiling, counter-tops. The pair has installed new customer tables out in front of the shop and implemented a new point of sale system that prints orders for both the waitresses and the customers.
"That new system has been great," said Olsen. "It lets the customers see just how the waitress took their order and they can make any changes they want then instead of having to wait until they get their food. It has alleviated a great many headaches and produced a ton of happy customers."
While the malt shop has been a fixture on Main Street going back decades, it has also gone through quite a few owners. Some have seen success, some have not and Olsen did admit that several people cautioned her against buying into a business during shaky economic times. But Olsen never batted an eye, from jump, she says she knew everything was going to be okay.
"But honestly, I never thought it was going to be this good, this fast," she said. "We have had such great return clientele, some of those people who came during the first couple of weeks we were open, they still come back once or twice a week."
In talking with several customers who were ordering food as I interviewed Olsen, it became apparent that consistently good food was at the heart of their attachment to the place.
"The food is just like the Malt Shop when I was a kid," said East Carbon's Eric Torrez, 43. "The taste and the freshness of the food is amazing and you get it every time you come. It takes you back, brings back the memories of going for a Vanilla Coke with your girl when you were in high school."
While the old school staples have been a hit with the older crowd, some of today's new drink combinations have helped to bring the current high school and junior high crowd back to Sheralds as well.
"We ordered in 30 plus flavors so we could make tons of drink combinations," said Olsen. "One of our biggest successes is the OMG!, which features root beer and caramel concoction."
Olsen and Lee also brought back little touches like the plastic animals that ride the ice cream into a car for pick up. And the twist is back. Instead of vanilla only as was available when the purchased the shop in October 2013, vanilla, chocolate and a twist of the two is now available.
"We also bought a machine to make shaved ice," said Olsen. "That was something I remembered from East Carbon and it was great, I couldn't wait to make that available to our customers."
Olsen and Lee can be found at the shop every day, showing that their commitment to the shop goes beyond the financial.
"Among several reasons, I took this investment because I loved working at Malt Shop in East Carbon," said Olsen. "Some of the best times of my life were had in and around these shops and I'm so happy to be able to provide that environment for the people of this community."