By Connor Dziawura
When it comes to The Yard Milkshake Bar, the growing dessert chain that specializes in over-the-top creations, there are often lines out the doors.
That may be the case when local franchisee Kendra Lachmund and her husband, Scott Mills, open a location next to Chico Malo and CVS in CityScape in the early part of 2021.
But Lachmund feels the lines are worth the wait.
“It really is a concept that we want you to be able to share these (milkshakes and sundaes) with other people—or just have that fun experience where you have something that you can show it off on social media but then also enjoy what you’re tasting and know that this is an over-the-top dessert,” Lachmund describes.
If The Yard sounds familiar to some people, that’s because they may have seen it on TV. Founders Logan and Chelsea Green pitched the company on an episode of ABC’s “Shark Tank” that aired in November 2019. The husband-and-wife team has seen success since opening the first location in Gulf Shores, Alabama, in 2017—with The Yard quickly growing to 10 locations up till now.
In fact, it’s that “Shark Tank” episode that introduced Lachmund—who is a teacher—and Mills—who has experience working with business startups and is now in finance—to the concept.
“Basically, we love ice cream,” Lachmund says. “That was something that we did a lot when we first started dating. We’d go all around the Valley and try a new ice cream shop every weekend, and everyone teased us about how much we loved it.
“And then we saw on ‘Shark Tank’ one night—we never watch ‘Shark Tank,’ but we happened to that night—The Yard Milkshake Bar, and that was in November (2019). We didn’t think anything else of it.”
At that point, The Yard was nothing more to the couple than a place they would like to try it if they ever happened to make it to Gulf Shores. But that changed in February 2020, after the couple tried an “Instagram-worthy” shop in Phoenix and found its ice cream to be “a little bit of a disappointment.”
“We were talking about how cool it would be to have a place that both had that Instagram-worthy, social media-ready (ice cream) but also tasted good,” Lachmund recalls. “So then we remembered the ‘Shark Tank’ episode that we watched and we applied to be one of their franchises that evening, and then about a month and a half later we heard from (them).”
With the 2,283-square-foot CityScape location—the brand’s 11th—quickly approaching, Lachmund emphasizes that The Yard has “something for everyone.”
The dessert chain is based around a variety of specialty milkshakes and sundaes in collectible Mason jars—or customers can build their own from a long list of ice cream flavors, adding to it their choice of toppings, perhaps even a scoop of cookie dough.
Speaking of the latter, The Yard emphasizes that its cookie dough is edible raw and at room temperature because its flour is heat treated and no eggs are used. As such, menus go beyond just the milkshakes and sundaes to souvenir Mason jars full of the stuff.
“There is cookie dough, which I am all about the cookie dough. That’s probably what I’ll eat mostly of, because I love cookie dough,” Lachmund says with a laugh.
Her favorite milkshake, though? The elaborate S’MOREO: Graham Central Station and cookies and cream ice cream in a vanilla iced jar, rolled in crushed Oreos and graham crackers and topped with whipped cream, chocolate drizzle, more crushed cookies and a chocolate dipped s’more.
Cookie dough pops, scooped ice cream, floats, specialty bowls and “secret” items are just some of the other menu categories—though items and prices can vary per location. As the Phoenix menu has not yet been revealed, Valley dwellers with a sweet tooth will have to stay tuned.
Lachmund says specials rotate around the holidays and events, too, plus each location has its own specialty shake inspired by something specific to the area.
“We’re still working on what our specialty shake will be, but we will have one that’s for just Phoenix,” she says.
The plethora of toppings for the elaborate desserts—as well as the opportunity for specials—only gets more expansive, with local partnerships a possibility for Lachmund.
“We like to partner with local businesses,” she says. “Sometimes in the past, some of the other locations have partnered with a local bakery or a local candy shop and have a specialty milkshake with their candy on top for a certain month to try to bring in that local community support because we are a local business—so we want to be able to bring in other businesses around to support each other.”
Finding it important to support others, it’s important to note Lachmund says The Yard founders Logan and Chelsea have also been supportive throughout the process.
“We just felt like they were really people that were really passionate about the work and really supportive, so we decided to move forward,” Lachmund says. “It’s been a fun process learning the ins and outs of how to start a business and how to communicate effectively as a team—so that’s basically where we’re at right now. For the most part, my husband is better at the business (logistics) side of it; I’m more of the ‘I want to tell everyone about it’ side of it.
“It’s been cool to get to know—with our location being at CityScape—the background of how other businesses got started in CityScape, and working with Red Development and seeing just how all these pieces have to come into place,” she adds.
“We didn’t expect it to be easy, but it is kind of a big process to get things going—and things that you don’t think of come up and then other things slide into place easily. So, it’s just been fun to see how things are working out so far.”
The Yard Milkshake Bar, CityScape, next to Chico Malo and CVS, early 2021, theyardmilkshakebar.com.