Food & Drink

The Scoop on Betty Rae’s

As National Ice Cream Month winds down, we get the details on KC’s new favorite parlor, Betty Rae’s.

Betty Rae’s Ice Cream quickly became a hotspot after opening this spring, but the KC parlor’s roots are in another Missouri city. Owners David Friesen and Mary Nguyen met at the University of Missouri in Columbia, where they both worked at Sparky’s Homemade Ice Cream.

“We would just make all the ice cream in the back, get really creative with the flavors,” Friesen says. “We could think of a new idea, make it that day and sell it the next day.”

Friesen caught the ice cream bug, and throughout his career as a baker, he held onto the idea of opening an ice cream parlor. When the couple moved to Kansas City, where Nguyen grew up, they started looking for a location and found the perfect place in Waldo blocks away from where she lived.

Betty Rae’s display case of 24 flavors features a range of familiar and creative options that can be turned into an array of menu items: thick ice cream sandwiches with housemade cookies, affogatos with Thou Mayest espresso, and floats incorporating any of the drinks Betty Rae’s serves as well as sundaes, shakes and malts.

While a number of flavors are changed out to make way for the latest and greatest concoctions, many of their classics stick around stick around, like the lavender honey the couple created in 2007.

“We use lavender flowers, steep them overnight in the cream, and then introduce the honey and freeze the ice cream,” Friesen says. “It’s just this full-bodied, really nice floral but not over the top sort of flavor.”

People have been sent to the shop by their friends for a taste. Other fan favorites include the cookies and cream and brown butter and toasted pecan. For the latter, which was singled out when Betty Rae’s was listed as one of “The Best New Ice Cream Shops in the U.S.” by Bloomberg, butter is browned and then mixed with brown sugar, creating a “dark, smoky butterscotch” flavor. Pecans are toasted in butter, brown sugar and salt and mixed in.

“It’s just a classic done very well, and people really respond to that,” Friesen explains.

Depending on the day you stop by, the case could also contain flavors such as Earl Grey dotted with Madeleine cake bits, dairy-free chocolate, watermelon sorbet, strawberry cheesecake or even chicken and waffles.

Coming up with recipes is easy, but “it’s tough to stop at 24,” he says. “We’re having so many ideas now.”