'We loved every minute of it': Wholly Cow Frozen Custard owners ready for retirement

NOW: ’We loved every minute of it’: Wholly Cow Frozen Custard owners ready for retirement

DELAFIELD, Wis. (CBS 58) -- On Sept. 2, Jim and Jan Stoffer will close the doors for another season at Wholly Cow Frozen Custard in Delafield; their 31st.

Year 31 will also be their last.

"We thought, 'Hey, early retirement's better than late retirement," Jan Stoffer said. "We're going to move out to the lake, we're going to, I think you (Jim) want to buy a new camper and a new truck. We're just going to travel and have fun!"

What started with the Stoffer's kids selling ice cream off the front porch, the business turned into a staple in the Delafield community, and a home for the family of seven.

Jan and Jim Stoffer

"We tore the roof off the house and put five bedrooms upstairs," Jim Stoffer said. "We expanded the kitchen here so we could serve food and, of course, made this, our living room, more seating areas and the little gift shop we put in."

Over the years, Wholly Cow has become a summer favorite for people living in the Lake Country area and those just passing through, whether it be looking for a burger and fries for dinner, or just a sweet scoop of custard to cool down. Jim and Jan were able to make the business so successful with hard work, dedication, and the help of their five kids.

"I grew up in a very successful family business and it was so great to have that business background to understand how business works and how to have a successful life, how to work hard and be successful," Jan Stoffer said. "We always wanted a business where the whole family could work together, and we could give that experience to our children."

That they did.

All five children worked at the shop with four of the five going on to start their own careers. The fifth, Susan Sorensen, has been managing the restaurant for the last two summers while earning a PhD in physics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. This will also be her last summer at the shop.

"It's definitely been sad, but it's been a good year," Sorensen said. "I've always been the ice cream girl, the girl whose parents own Wholly Cow. "It's always been something I've been really proud of."

Now graduated, Sorensen, too, will be pursuing her own career, something her parents insisted on.

"The kids talked among themselves, if anybody really could take this over, and they all wanted to, but they all have their own successful careers," Jan Stoffer said. "They've all done really well and they're like, 'We would love to, but..'"

While one of the five kids may not be able to continue the Wholly Cow legacy, the Stoffers have not had a lack of offers from people looking to purchase the property.

"We have just been flooded with inquiries of people wanting to buy, many of them wanting to buy the business, but many of them also wanting to buy the building, which is probably the best thing, for them, to buy the whole thing," Jan Stoffer explained. "We've had several who have the same goal that we had of making it a family endeavor where they want to teach their children how a business works, same thing what we wanted to do. As we've gone through these inquiries, it's just so much fun and we're looking forward to meeting all these people a little bit more and really choosing the right custodian to carry on the legacy."

As the last few weeks of their custard shop experience wind up, Jim and Jan can't help but look back fondly at all the memories experienced and friendships made along the way, both with customers and employees.

"I remember our first customer and she was pushing a baby stroller and she came up to the window up here and I talked to her quite a while because, 'Were we going to get any more customers? Is this our only one?'" Jim recalled. "She recently wrote into us saying, 'I was your first customer and we're sad to see you retire, but glad you had a good career here."

Having just purchased a home on a nearby lake, they're excited to escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday business, but also anticipate staying busy.

"We have 12 grandchildren, and they're all in the area, all 5 of our children and all 12 of our grandchildren are in the area so I think that alone will keep us busy," Jan Stoffer said, excited. "We plan to put a little mini Wholly Cow 2.0 in the basement for the grandkids."

While the new owner is yet to be decided, the current owners are grateful to have made such a positive impact on the community while following the Wholly Cow Mission Statement: "Be a friendly, community gathering place where friends and families can meet and have fun."

"Thank you to the community. Thank you to the customers. Thank you to our employees, all who have been so wonderful to work with through the years," Jan Stoffer said. "It's been great to be such a part of this community and we will never forget it."

Jim echoed that sentiment.

"A heartwarming, heartfelt thank you for the community for extending their hands to us and coming out and helping us succeed," Jim Stoffer said. "We will miss everyone, and we will be coming back to Delafield often and we'll probably come right to this place, so maybe we'll see many of you in the future."

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