The Original: Who is Foo?
Foo’s Fabulous Custard Original location in Brookside has been scooping the best custard in town for 30 years.
In 1988, Betty Bremser’s brother Joe Bremser was in between jobs. One day, Betty said, he turned to his wife Roseann and said he wanted to open a Ted Drewes custard shop. But Ted Drewes was not interested in any type of franchise opportunity. So, Joe, armed with a degree in microbiology, decided to figure out how to make his own custard. He opened Foo’s that June.
“The Plaza was out of reach rent-wise and Brookside was the best place,” she said. “At the time, the only other similar shop was Baskin Robbins.” It worked out well for Betty, who’s lived in Brookside for 35 years.
In 1996, Joe’s wife Roseann got an incredible job offer and the family moved to Charlotte, North Carolina. Though excited for them, Betty asked Joe what he planned to do with the shop. He said he was going to sell. But Betty couldn’t bear to let it go to anyone else. “So I got a loan and bought it,” Betty said. She had no experience in running a shop but jumped right in.
“I thought it would be easy,” she said. “I thought ‘I can teach and it’ll be busy in the winter.’ Famous last words,” Betty said with a laugh.
“I just jumped in,” Betty said, reflecting on when she bought the store from her brother. “There are only four things on the menu that are original from when Foo owned it.”
“I’ve expanded the menu a lot,” Betty said, nodding at the large, handwritten menu board on the wall, full of concoctions made up by former and current employees.
Nostalgia in a Cup
Ice cream has always been a part of Betty’s life. Her great-grandfather owned an ice cream factory in Quincy, Illinois called Hey Brothers Ice Cream.
“When I was a kid, we would go to Hey Brothers when we visited and pick out any flavor we wanted,” Betty recalled. “I always got lemon. It’s still my favorite. It’s nostalgic for me.”
Foo’s is nostalgic for a lot of people. “People come in and say ‘Oh, you’re still here! I used to live here. I used to come here all the time!” Betty said. That part is really sweet for her, seeing people throughout their lives or reminiscing with them.
An Extension of Teaching
Betty teaches French at Kansas City Academy. She’s taught students ages pre-kindergarten to junior college and all over town.
“I feel like Foo’s is an extension of my teaching,” Betty said. “I employ a lot of high school students. I’m teaching kids how to have their first job, how to work with people and not be cranky. I repeat myself a lot. You kinda have to do that when you own a business. You have to be willing to say a lot of things. But it’s sweet to see them take ownership. That’s what I love about the handwritten menu, which was written by former employees. Those kids love when someone orders something they made up.”
At any given time, Betty said she has 10-15 kids on her payroll. “That’s a lot of kids over the years!” she said.
In addition to teaching students how to work hard, Betty said she’s also educating people on the custard. “I really am teaching people, my employees, and my customers about custard, and about neighborhoods and small businesses and why it’s important to visit them. I don’t think I’ve ever been a big box girl. That’s not how I shop or eat. Even when I’m out of town I try to seek out “Brooksides” like mine.”
Small business is the backbone of the economy, Betty said. “It allows people to live good lives and be true to what they believe—whether that’s a vegan cafe or a knitting store. It’s hard. And so it’s nice when people recognize how hard you’re working.”
Looking Back on 30 Years
This June, Foo’s Fabulous Frozen Custard celebrates 30 years of business. “A lot has changed in 30 years,” Betty said. “Even us going from local ownership to corporate ownership. What hasn’t changed is it’s still Brookside. Kids hang out here. It’s still a neighborhood that a lot of people walk around. Parents know their kids are safe here. I hope that part will never change. That’s the part that matters the most.”
In 2006, Betty formed a partnership franchise with Jeff Stottle and opened the Foo’s Fabulous Frozen Custard Cafe in Leawood.
“That store is much bigger square footage so we had to dream up the coffee bar, lunches in addition to custard, and a breakfast menu. That space was able to include all of that. When we opened it, there wasn’t even a coffee shop in the area, so the community loved it.”
A Custard Community
The employees and customers are Betty’s favorite part of the job. She has some of her favorite customers’ orders memorized.
“The regulars that come in are hilarious,” Betty said. “They HAVE to have a certain thing. There’s a guy that comes in every day and gets a junior scoop with a flat bottom cone and we have to take the paper off the cone. I just find that funny.”
There’s a family of five children that comes in and gets the same thing every time. Betty starts making their order the minute they get out the car.
“I think it’s fun being here long enough that I get to cater some of my employee’s weddings,” Betty said. “People insist on Foo’s at their wedding or their baby shower.”
Betty said Kansas Citians are loyal to local businesses when they can be.
“I hope people know that their kids are safe here and that they’re going to get a quality product,” Betty said, who uses the best custard she can find.
“People always say that my custard is the best and tastes different,” Betty said. “It’s true. They ask what my secret is. I say it tastes that way because we’re a tiny business and we can add love to every concrete,” she said with a smile.