Business Profile:

Carvel was founded by Tom Carvel, whose goal was “to make his customers smile” (Carvel), in the summer of 1934 when his ice cream truck got a flat tire in Hartsdale, New York, a town located in Westchester County.  Although Mr. Carvel sold a ton of ice cream that summer, he decided that opening a store would better suit his business needs, and thus, the first Carvel location was open and the Carvel Corporation is founded in 1936.

Soft serve ice cream, which Carvel is probably most known for and was an accidental invention, quickly became one of the brand’s best selling items and subsequently resulted in the creation of the first soft serve ice cream machine (1939).  By 1947, the brand was ready to start franchising and in 1949 developed their own franchise seminar called “Carvel College of Ice Cream Knowledge”, also known as: “Sundae School”. Just before the twenty year anniversary of Carvel’s inception, in 1951, the ice cream shop created the first round ice cream sandwich, lovingly known to all Carvel fans as the “Flyer Saucer” as well as opening their 100th store.

The 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s brought a lot of innovations and firsts for Carvel; they held the first “Little Miss Half Pint” pageant and introduced gift cards, developed a line of ice cream vending machines, a kosher line, created Thinny-Thins and Lo-Yo Frozen Yogurt as dietary desserts as well as Fudgie the Whale.  Towards the end of the 80s, Carvel is sold to Investcorp.

While the 90s started with the loss of founder, Mr. Tom Carvel, the brand continued to flourish through expansion, development and innovation including sales in supermarkets and specialty venues, such as super club stores, stadiums, retail shoppes and more.  

At the turn of the century, Roark purchased the brand and three years later, in 2003, FOCUS Brands, Carvel’s current parent company, was created.  Throughout the next two decades, Carvel continued to develop new products, partnerships and store concepts, as well as foster a partnership with Girl Scouts of USA that included ice cream flavors inspired and featuring some of Girl Scouts’ most loved cookies.

Since 2012 Scott Colwell, who has “over thirty years of marketing, product innovation, strategic planning and general management expertise,” (FOCUS Brands), has been serving as Carvel’s president.  As of 2014, FOCUS Brands is lead by CEO Steve DeSutter, who is described to have “a breadth of retail, food service, operations finance and public company experience,” (FOCUS Brands).

Franchising opportunities are available with Carvel throughout the United States. Carvel aims to give each franchisee the best tools and support to ensure success, such as connecting with “Franchise Business Consultants” (FBCs), marketing professionals and Franchise Advisory Council as well as ongoing support with real estate and store development, training, operations and field support, marketing and production development.



Part of FOCUS Brands group of companies.  Click here for the CREHQ profile of FOCUS Brands and links to the other companies.

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