By: Hannah Crouch
On a warm spring afternoon in Athens where the heat settles and slowly suffocates visitors and locals alike, there is no better treat than Four Fat Cows refreshing Key Lime Pie ice cream. The light green, milky, sorbet consistency is perfectly accented with flakey, crunchy crumbles of gluten free graham crackers. It leaves the customer with a very subtle honey aftertaste that is not overwhelmingly sweet. The graham cracker crumbs could be broken up into smaller pieces and spread out more through the mixture, but it is a minor detail that holds very little importance when being compared to the fact that it is 100% safely gluten free– a major win for celiacs everywhere who have never had the privilege of trying the original delicacy that is a key lime pie.These special moments are what define the experiences within the walls of the the Four Fat Cows Bakery and Ice Cream Shops.
Even in a city with as vibrant and diverse a food scene as Athens, Georgia, allergy-friendly establishments are still few and far between. We are often met with puzzled looks on servers faces and a loss for words from kitchen staff when asking menu questions and explaining our allergy/ what products we have to avoid. The exciting dining experience can turn embarrassing and awkward for the consumer. Luckily, gluten-sensitive friends can find comfort at this utterly-delicious dessert joint– Four Fat Cows. This franchise was originally a single, family owned small business, but they now have 6 locations spaced around Georgia. They offer a variety of homemade ice creams, cupcakes, brownies, and more. They love to try adventurous new flavors like cinnamon avocado, strawberry balsamic, almond roca, dill pickle, taro boba, raspberry brown butter jalapeño, lavender honey, and tons of classic flavors. The owner strives to serve gluten free products (as well as some nut-free and dairy free products) because her own family members have struggled with the inconvenience and discomfort of Celiac Disease. They stay true to their word, minimizing possibility for cross contamination and educating all of their staff members on how to handle customers with food allergies. These small differences surely make Four Fat Cows stand out from their competitors like Ben and Jerry’s and Andy’s Frozen Custard.
However, not everything about Four Fat Cows is inclusive to their demographic (especially in a college town.) Their branding is heavily catered towards small children– the shelves are filled with toddler-esque toys and trinkets that seem rather pricey, and make the space feel more like a nursery than an eatery. While this may encourage the patronage of parents with young kids, it is a less than ideal hang out space for local students. They have figured out a ton of dessert flavors and textures that appeal to the public, now they just need to make their storefronts more appealing to the eyes.
Some of their design choices may be merchandise left from years past, untouched and unsold. They tried dabbling in coffee and espresso, which proved an unsuccessful addition to their menu. But the lull of customers over the two years of the pandemic ravaged many businesses on Baxter Street, and many franchises are not functioning at full capacity like they used to. Because of the pandemic, store managers and supplies tend to visit from Atlanta less frequently, leaving their college-aged employees to manage weeks without essential items like their homemade baked goods, ice cream cups, waffle cone supplies, etc. This particular franchise location still has a lot of room to increase production and to improve their business model. Maybe Terry students wouldn’t applaud all of the decision making behind closed doors, but local families and community members seem to love the flavors and customer service provided by the Four Fat Cows location here in the Classic City, and it is surely still a top contender for allergy-weary visitors to stop at and grab a safe treat.
Click to view restaurant website and full menu! https://www.fourfatcows.com/