Maggie Moo's Ice Cream and Treatery has only been open a couple months in Fair Lakes, but it's already receiving rave reviews.
Julie Farr of Chantilly's Poplar Tree Estates community loved the Maggie Moo's in Springfield, so she came to the new one in Fair Lakes as soon as it opened.
"I LIKE the different flavors and the mix-ins, and this place is set up really nice inside," she said. "It has so many different options of cones and toppings, and the staff is really nice and very friendly."
On a recent visit, Farr got a Cotton Candy Ski Jump — blue, cotton candy ice cream with mini M&Ms, miniature marshmallows and marshmallow cream. "I have a major sweet tooth, and this is awesome," she said. "I would definitely recommend Maggie Moo's to friends. All the flavors are really good."
Her words are music to the ears of the shop's owners, Alex and Kathrina Lim of Centreville's Centre Ridge community, since it's a new business venture for them. Alex works for Crest Cleaners in the Colonnade at Union Mill and had participated twice in the Centreville Day parade with the Crest van.
"I saw all the kids lined up for candy, and they recognized my sons," he said. (Marco, 9, and Noah, 7, attend St. Andrew the Apostle School in Clifton). "And we thought we should open something for kids," said Kathrina.
They decided to open an ice cream shop, but wanted it to be top-quality ice cream, so they did some research. They discovered that, for eight years in a row, four flavors of Maggie Moo's ice cream had won Blue Ribbon awards of excellence from the National Ice Cream Retailers Assn. for being the best-tasting.
The flavors are chocolate, strawberry, vanilla and dark chocolate and, since 2004, Maggie Moo's vanilla bean ice cream has also been named a Blue Ribbon winner. (The company also uses vanilla extract from Madagascar).
So, said Alex, "Looking at all the children and families there are in this area, Thrina contacted the corporate headquarters in Columbia, Md., about how to open a Maggie Moo's franchise here."
"At first, I wanted to open in the Colonnade, when it seemed like the McDonald's there would leave," he continued. "But then McDonald's signed a new, 10-year lease. So I got a broker, and he told us there was a new shopping center going up by Dick's and Kohl's. Both are packed with families on the weekends, and nothing in the area caters to kids and families like this."
MAGGIE MOO'S has 191 locations in the U.S. — most, in the Mid-Atlantic — and one will open in Puerto Rico by the end of the year. The Lims opened their Fair Lakes shop Sept. 24 and, although winter is approaching, they don't consider it a problem.
"I think people who like to eat ice cream enjoy it better in winter than summer because it stays firm and doesn't melt," said Alex. "I saw customers lined up at a Maggie Moo's in Ashburn last winter."
Actually, said Rob Garlington, a Maggie Moo's store owner in Monroe, La., "More ice cream is consumed in the winter than in the summer. So we're having a homecoming celebration push for the fall and winter. It's about families getting together to enjoy ice cream and purchasing pints and quarts, cakes and ice-cream cupcakes ahead of time, without having to go out again in bad weather.
So with all the other brands of ice cream around, why will customers choose Maggie Moo's?
"We make our own ice cream fresh, in-store, daily — even the cakes and cones," said Kathrina. "And customers like the flavor and quality. They also like our mascot, Maggie the cow."
Maggie Moo's offers about 50 flavors. Some are seasonal, such as pumpkin pie for fall and eggnog for Christmas. Other seasonal flavors include apple strudel, caramel apple and southern apple.
Customers may even choose low-carb and fat-free ice creams, plus fat-free sorbets made from fresh fruit. And on Valentine's Day, chocolate-covered strawberries will also be available.
There are also unusual flavors, such as chai tea ice cream, tres leches, creme brulee and the company's trademark "Piña Cowlada," "Amooretta," "Udderly Cream" and "Cinnamoo." And, said Kathrina, "Kids love the cotton candy ice cream — it turns their lips and teeth blue."
Also big hits with children are the pink bubble gum and very yellow marshmallow ice creams. "I love chocolate and nuts, so my favorite is rocky road," said Alex. Kathrina especially likes the dark chocolate ice cream.
"Our best seller is the Better Batter — a cake-batter flavor," she said. "We also offer it in a pre-determined mix of Twix candy bars, cookie dough and fudge called Better Batter Cake Carnival. Or people can mix in their own items." Other popular flavors, said Kathrina, include pistachio and creamy coconut.
EVERY SCOOP is 3 ounces, and a one-scoop, kids' single cone is $3.79. A regular-size cone is two scoops for $4.79, and a large, three-scoop cone is $5.49. "A lot of people put their ice cream in a cup, instead of a cone, and put waffle pieces on top," said Kathrina. "And we also have cups lined with curvy waffles to fill with ice cream."
Mix-ins are 55 cents, and the huge variety includes: Mixed nuts, pecans, walnuts, almonds, Heath bars, mini Snickers, York Peppermint Patties, chocolate chips, Mounds bars, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, Kit Kat bars, Twix, Sno-caps candies, Butterfingers, graham-cracker crumbs, Oreo's, cookie dough, waffle pieces, white chocolate chips, Teddy Grahams, mini Reese's pieces, mini M&Ms, chocolate and rainbow sprinkles, mini marshmallows and Gummy Bears.
As if that's not enough, Maggie Moo's also offers a whole assortment of tastebud-tantalizing shakes, smoothies, malts, sundaes, plus ice-cream cakes and cupcakes.
For example, the Cinnamoo Swirl Shake is made with cinnamoo ice cream, fudge and caramel toppings and the store's secret "moo milk." Or try the Caramel Cowpuccino, or the Red Sky Smoothie made with raspberry sorbet, strawberries, raspberries and cranberry juice.
"Fundaes" come with either a brownie or a S'more (a brownie with marshmallows and fudge in it). They're heated in the microwave and covered with the customer's favorite ice cream and toppings. Hot Fudge Brownie sundaes are $4.99 and Hot S'Mores are $5.19.
Ice-cream cupcakes are also popular with kids and are big hits at both school and office parties. "We'll do catering and bring them to people's homes or offices," said Kathrina. "We have a thermal pack that stays cold for three or four hours, and it's also great for traveling." And, added Alex, "The cupcakes are neat and easy to serve."
Pre-packed pints of ice cream cost $3.99, with an additional $1.49 for hand-packed pints. Ice cream Dream Cakes start at $19.95 and come in flavors such as Pecan Perfection, Caramel Drizzle, Strawberry Cheesecream and Chocolate Espresso Truffle. Or customers may choose their own ingredients and create their own Dream Cakes.
So what do people think of the new Maggie Moo's? Just ask Bryce Smith and Diana Huang, who both work for CACI in Fair Lakes. There on a lunch break one day, Smith enjoyed a cup of chocolate ice cream and Huang feasted on a scoop of mint ice cream with crushed Oreo cookies mixed in — all on a chocolate-dipped sugar cone.
Smith said they were excited to see the new shop open, and she said her ice cream tasted good and was "rich and creamy." She said the staff gave them lots of samples and she plans to come back again.
"THE CONE'S good, too, because it has lots of chocolate on it — yum!" said Huang. "The ice cream's light and not too sugary. It's a cute store, too; and when you walk in, it smells really good."
Shelly Modes of Hampton Forest brought daughters Charlotte, 5 1/2, and Ella, 19 months, for ice cream and had a great time. "I got peanut butter ice cream, and I love it," said Modes. "It tastes like peanut butter fudge and is nice and rich."
Ella and Charlotte both chose chocolate ice cream, but Ella ate hers with rainbow sprinkles, while Charlotte had Sno-caps mixed in hers and licked it gleefully from a sprinkle-covered cone.
Said their mom: "I'd recommend this Maggie Moo's because it's good ice cream, a good location and something different. And I like that you can take a whole quart home with you."
Seeing them enjoy themselves pleased Alex. The best part of his business, he said, is "having kids come and be happy."
And with its white, turquoise blue and pink decor, plus a video of the cow Maggie Moo, this is definitely a cheerful place. "The other mix-in ice cream places tend to market to adults," said Kathrina. "Ours caters to families."
So besides the terrific flavor, why else does ice cream appeal so much to people? "It's nostalgic; it takes you back to your childhood," said Kathrina.
"Ice cream is a stress reliever, and it makes you feel happy," added Alex. "It makes you remember when you were a kid and your parents or grandparents took you to an ice-cream place. And, for a moment, your worries go away."
Maggie Moo's is at 4471 Market Commons Drive, off Fair Lakes Parkway. Hours: Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Friday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Saturday, noon-10 p.m. and Sunday, noon-9 p.m. Phone: 703-865-5180.