By ANDREA LANNOM ∙ firstname.lastname@example.org
FRANKLIN — It only took 15 minutes and a few cups of coffee to turn two general contractors into owners of a '50s-style, family-friendly ice cream shop near Franklin.
And 15 minutes turned into five years for Franklin's staple, Moe Fatz, One Cool Cone.
Husband and wife, Paulette and Jeffrey Kirby, said Moe Fatz was created in 2007 from a dusty old former gas station a few miles outside of Franklin. The building had been vacant for more than 20 years.
"Everyone in town said nothing works out there," Jeffrey Kirby recalled. "The funniest thing is when we were remodeling it — and me and my wife did all the work outside and inside — people would drive by and stop and say ‘what are you doing?' We never told anyone what it would be and never put a coming soon sign. We just opened it when it was ready to go as Moe Fatz."
Lastly, the Kirbys installed the neon Moe Fatz sign, depicting the shop's sunglasses-clad ice cream cone mascot.
"Moe came to us; we didn't come up with the idea," Paulette Kirby said.
"The name just kind of popped out," Jeffrey Kirby agreed. "We were thinking fat ice cream. Fat is fun. Then it just kind of went to Moe Fatz. We wanted it to be a caricature … to make it so everything was about Moe Fatz, not the owners. It became its own sort of entity."
The image of Moe was deeply ingrained in their minds, but the problem was bringing that image to life.
"No one could help us because they weren't too artistic, but we finally found one. We sat down with the guy for hours … and after several hours we got him … He just came to us. It's like artists say when they are ice sculpting that they got rid of everything that was just ice."
And the ice cream, the Kirbys say, is just as cool and smooth as its mascot.
"Our ice cream is amazing," Paulette Kirby said.
"Everyone asks us how our ice cream is so good. They say they go throughout the country and the state and can't find anything as good. They ask, ‘what do you put in it?' We say we always make it with love. That's a commodity you can't find in many places in a world of big box stores," Jeffrey Kirby said.
The Kirbys also said they use all premium products and real dairy to ensure flavor and quality.
"If you use dairy products, it is a little bit more expensive, but it seems like everything nowadays is about the bottom line. We didn't want it to be that way. We wanted to provide you with a quality product at a reasonable price."
It took a year to pull the store together, from gathering the memorabilia to decorating the shop. From the decorations to the 1950s magazines on the news rack, the shop can take hungry ice-cream connoisseurs to the '50s for the first time or take them back through their memories.
"We wanted the '50s style and we also wanted people to enjoy themselves rather than having soft-serve ice cream where people ate in their car. We wanted them to enjoy the atmosphere and become part of the '50s for a little while," Paulette Kirby said.
"It not only invokes childhood memories but also reflects a generation behind us. It's a neat thing to introduce to the young people today. It was a quieter, calmer time when it was important to communicate with each other," Jeffrey Kirby added.
That desire for communication also played a part in the shop's design from the movable tables and chairs to the lack of wi-fi.
"We wanted people to communicate with each other instead of looking down at their cell phone all the time," Paulette Kirby said. "One woman sent me an email saying, ‘Thank you. My son and I came in here and we had fabulous ice cream and some quiet time together.'"