April 7, 2021

Deluxe milkshakes a hot business for Alabama company The Yard

You can add gigantic artisanal milkshake maker to the list of businesses that fared well…

You can add gigantic artisanal milkshake maker to the list of businesses that fared well through the pandemic. With its latest addition, Alabama-based chain “The Yard” will literally have locations all the way across the country.

This week residents of the Portland, Ore., area learned that The Yard will soon be serving them: A store is coming to The Waterfront, a mixed-use riverfront development in the adjacent city of Vancouver, Wash. But that’s just the tip of the ice(cream)berg.

Cofounder Chelsea Green said the last year has seen extensive growth for the company, which opened its first location in Gulf Shores in 2017.

“We opened in Georgetown, Texas, we opened Atlanta, Georgia, we opened Flowood, Mississippi, which is a suburb of Jackson, and then we also opened Virginia Beach,” Green said. “They were already planned to open, everything was in the works before COVID hit, so some of them were pushed back, but we had great success with all of them.”

The Vancouver, Wash., store is one of four more that have been announced. It and one in Ashburn, Va., on the northwest side of the Washington, D.C., metro area, are to open this summer. Two more are “coming soon” to Phoenix, Ariz., and Madison, Ala. The Madison branch will be in the Town Madison development, which also is home to the Rocket City Trash Pandas baseball team.

That means the chain has grown from seven stores pre-pandemic to 11 now. The total will be when the announced stores have opened.

The Yard’s concoctions are literally over the top: They tower above the pint and quart Mason jars they’re served in, with toppings that could serve as desserts all by themselves: cupcakes, cookies, bananas or a slice of cheesecake, for example. Most menu items run $15 for the pint and $20 for the quart.

“Basically what we’ve seen is people still want to have a little bit of enjoyment, or get out a little bit, maybe if it’s a special occasion,” said Green. “They’re still pretty excited about dessert. So that’s been really beneficial to us. Now that people are feeling a little more confident and getting out more, it’s making our business even better.”

She said she expects the addition of new stores to continue. “We have many that are unannounced, that are in the works,” she said.

At the same time, she said, the company isn’t leaping ahead without looking where it’s going.

“We look for a lot of things,” she said. “I would say, we do a lot of research on the area and we do a lot of research on the franchisee to see if we think they would be a good fit.”

On a more local level, she said, patrons can expect to see some new flavors on the menu in the weeks ahead.

“We kind of do a little bit of a flavor re-do or menu update every spring,” she said.