Franchising: Hot Ice Cream

Cold Stone Creamery is stirring demand for a product whose sales had been frozen for years

A decade ago, Doug Ducey was selling Folgers coffee to restaurants when his West Coast customers began asking for the kinds of pricier gourmet blends served at Starbucks. He dismissed it as a fad. After all, what could possibly change America's coffee-drinking habits?

O.K., he missed that one. But today, lesson learned, Ducey, 39, is well on his way to doing for ice cream what Starbucks did for coffee. The challenge is similar: Americans spend about $9 billion a year on ice cream in places like scoop shops and restaurants, a figure that hasn't budged much since the late 1990s. Yet...

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