- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 28, 2004

Cold Stone Creamery is mixing it up in the Washington area. The Scottsdale, Ariz., ice cream chain opened its first location in Vienna last month and plans to open five more by the end of May. They include stores in Manassas, Alexandria and Olney in April, and the District and Silver Spring in May. The chain also will add 10 franchised locations by the end of the year, said spokesman Kevin Donnellan.

Cold Stone Creamery isn’t an ordinary scoop shop. Customers can choose from a variety of goodies called “mix-ins” to be folded into the homemade ice cream. The concoction is mixed on 16-degree frozen granite, which keeps it from melting during the process. The mix-ins range from fruit, nuts and pie fillings to M&Ms;, sprinkles and cookie dough.

Cold Stone has more than 600 stores nationwide. Its goal is to have 1,000 stores open by the end the year. It also expects to have 70 to 85 stores in Maryland, Virginia and the District in three to five years.

Cold Stone competes with two other “mix-in” concept chains, MaggieMoo’s Ice Cream & Treateries, based in Columbia, Md., and Marble Slab Creamery, based in Houston.

Marble Slab, which has 225 stores open and 128 more under development, was the first of its kind to open in 1983, followed by Cold Stone and MaggieMoo’s. The company’s goal is to have 600 franchised stores open by 2005. Marble Slab expects to be in the Washington market beginning in January 2005.

MaggieMoo’s has more than 100 locations and 200 under development. The company has 13 stores in Maryland, Virginia and the District.

Test market

Chick-Fil-A, the quick-service chicken restaurant chain, has beefed up its breakfast menu with new items that are being tested in three markets, including Baltimore.

The new items, which have been offered since March 1, include a fruit cup, yogurt parfait, a bagel chicken sandwich, a chicken burrito and a pastry.

The popularity of the items has Chick-Fil-A executives planning a chainwide rollout in November, said Jerry Johnston, a spokesman for the Atlanta-based chain.

Orlando, Fla., and Fort Worth, Texas, also will take part in the three-month test.

Breakfast sales accounted for 13 percent of the company’s 2003 overall sales. Chick-Fil-A expects breakfast sales to make up 17 percent of sales this year, Mr. Johnston said.

In other news

The Key Bridge Marriott in Arlington is undergoing a $15 million renovation that will include revamped rooms, expansion of the business center and an additional 24-hour fitness center. The 583 rooms will have new furniture, bedding, carpeting and window treatments. The bathrooms also will receive an overhaul, with the addition of new vanities with granite countertops. The renovation is expected to be complete in July.

Washington ranked No. 1 for best historic sites, museums and architecture, according to the latest survey by Travel + Leisure Magazine and American Online. The city was ranked the worst in sexiness out of the 25 cities highlighted in the survey, while Honolulu ranked No. 1. Results of the survey are in the April issue of the magazine.

Donna De Marco can be reached at 202/636-4884. Retail & Hospitality runs every other Monday.

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