I scream. You scream. West Seneca’s Kone King screams for drive-thru ice cream.
The longtime Center Road ice cream stand, which sits just east of the famed Schwabl’s Restaurant, looks to make it even easier to get its creamy dessert into the hands of customers in 2013. Owners of the stand at 865 Center Road will take plans for the addition of a drive-thru window before the town Planning Board on Thursday night.
“We’re trying to update and make [the stand] more modern and make it more contemporary,” said Gerard Jakubczak, Kone King’s sole operator in its 36 years of family-owned history.
Plans submitted to the Planning Board by Bammel Architects of Orchard Park show that drive-thru traffic would enter the property off Warren Avenue and proceed to a speaker’s post in the rear of the building before pulling around to a new service window on the east side.
The building, which operated as a “Dairy Isle” franchise between the early 1950s and 1975, became occupied again when Kone King was founded the following April. A new drive-thru would make the ice cream stand one of a few in Western New York to offer such a feature.
“A lot of our customer base is seniors,” Jakubczak said. “This offers the opportunity for them not to have to struggle out of their cars or struggle against inclement weather.”
One of the others, a year-round Dairy Queen at 465 French Road in Cheektowaga, is managed by Jakubczak’s son-in-law, Andrew Royce.
“We do probably just over 50 percent [of business] out of our drive-thru,” said Royce. “Sales are definitely going to increase [by adding a drive-thru].”
Jakubczak said adding a drive-thru at the Kone King won’t do anything to change its season of operation, which runs from March 1 to Sept. 30. He said Kone King’s customers seem to look forward to the March opening as “a harbinger of spring.”
Another successful area ice cream parlor – Anderson’s Frozen Custard – has a drive-thru at one of its seven area locations at 2369 Niagara Falls Blvd. in Amherst, although Holly Anderson, who operates the popular 64-year-old business, recently told an online industry publication that the “physical opportunity for a drive-thru in all of our locations” was the one thing she’d change about Anderson’s.
“The trend toward fast-food opportunities, whether it be an ice cream place or conventional restaurant, seems to be take-out or take home,” said Jakubczak, who hopes adding the drive-thru next year will gain a competitive advantage over about six other ice cream shops within a mile of his business.
Kone King’s drive-thru proposal might prove to be one of its toughest sales, if it gets a cool reception before the Planning Board.
Planning Board Chairman Robert Niederpruem Jr. expressed some early concerns about the idea.
“The area is very congested, and there’s not a lot of room for this,” said Niederpruem. “There’s also a public safety aspect of this because of where the cars pull out [onto Center Road].”
“And, they have to sacrifice some parking spaces in order to facilitate this.”
Niederpruem said the board has not received any advance public criticism of the proposal but will wait to see what residents say at Thursday’s meeting, set for 7 p.m. in Town Hall, 1250 Union Road.
“We’re going to have the public forum,” he said, “and we’re just going talk about the issues and see what we see; then talk about it and make a decision.”