Growing up in Rochester, N.Y., Mark Khoury was never far away from his favorite dessert shop, Abbott’s Frozen Custard.
But when he came to the Upstate a few years ago, he found it difficult to find anything that tapped into his sense of nostalgia and satisfied his cravings for something sweet.
“I used to go home for a week and eat Abbott’s nine times,” Khoury said. “I realized that was a problem. The only way to fix it was to bring Abbott’s to the South with me.”
On Jan. 8, 2015, Khoury opened his first franchise and the first South Carolina store for the Rochester-based chain at 119 E. Poinsett St. in downtown Greer.
Khoury said Tuesday he has found a location for his and the state’s second store in downtown Spartanburg.
The entrepreneur has signed a lease on a more than 1,500-square-foot space at 100 E. Main on the ground floor of the Palmetto Building between Groucho’s Deli and the Two Doors Down boutique. The space was formerly occupied by Upstate Forever.
“It’s very exciting,” Khoury said. “This is a totally different taste and concept than most people are used to. The response in Greer has been amazing. Customers are happy. We hear from other business owners that their traffic has increased. I like win-win. I want to give people a reason to come downtown.”
Khoury said the store will open within the next few months. He anticipates hiring up to 10 employees initially.
The store will serve pies, cakes, novelty desserts, sundaes, sandwiches, and, of course, more than 100 flavors of Abbott’s Frozen Custard recipe, which has been wooing patrons since 1902.
Khoury said the store will offer catering. Everything will be made in the store from fresh, authentic ingredients. Even the milk used in Abbott’s recipes will be brought to Spartanburg from a supplier in Upstate New York.
In contrast with the newer feel of his Greer store, the Spartanburg location will have an old-fashioned vibe, Khoury said.
The owner said he believes Abbott’s will strengthen downtown’s existing dessert market, which already includes popular spots like Hub City Scoops and Dottie’s Toffee.
Khoury said he has been looking at Spartanburg for some time. He originally wanted to go into space at the former Abby’s Grille building across from Morgan Square, but that deal did not reach fruition.
He said he’s happy with the space he settled on and hopes to draw more foot traffic to the East Main Street corridor, which was recently improved with new streetscaping between Liberty and Church streets.
“Every time a new business opens in downtown, especially one that will attract a number of people, it helps bring us closer to building a critical mass,” said Patty Bock, economic development director for the city of Spartanburg. “We have an incredible diversity of businesses in downtown and I think Abbott’s will be complementary to existing food and beverage options. It will give people another reason to come to downtown. There’s no doubt in my mind [Khoury] will do well and have a positive impact in downtown.”
Khoury said he is the South Carolina developer for Abbott’s. He has exclusive rights to develop stores in the Upstate and the right of first refusal for stores outside the region.
His future plans include opening three more stores.
“My goal is to get to five and then see where we go from there,” Khoury said.
Andrew Babb with NAI Earle Furman brokered Khoury’s lease for the downtown Spartanburg store.
The store will operate from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days per week.
According to the company’s website, Abbott’s Frozen Custard was started by businessman Arthur Abbott, who perfected his recipe while traveling with small carnivals along the Eastern Seaboard.
In 1926, Abbott opened his first shop at the corner of Lake and Beach avenues in Rochester across the street from Lake Ontario.
Abbott opened a few other locations, but the company didn’t launch its first franchise until 1981.
Today, the company has about 40 locations in New York, Massachusetts, Florida, and South Carolina, and ships its tasty treats all over the world.
For more information, visit www.abbottscustard.com.