Curly’s Frozen Custard offers both a signature treat and summertime event.
Over the years, Bourke Harvey, his GM Brad Gardner, and a dedicated staff have steadily developed Curly’s Frozen Custard into a west side institution. No one who travels the famous bricks of Camp Bowie could possibly be a stranger to the little shop at 4017 Camp Bowie Boulevard: quaint, peaceful, with outdoor seating, a drive-thru, and a sign that boldly declaims the seasonal flavors of its signature custard.
As with most great enterprises, Curly’s was born almost by accident.
“I was on a road trip to St. Louis, and was told that I needed to try this frozen custard at a shop down the road,” says Bourke. “At that point, I had never heard of frozen custard. I drove across town to investigate, and this tiny little shop literally had a line out the door. The people stood outside waiting for this custard, despite the fact that it was 34 degrees and raining. It only took one taste, and I knew I needed to take it to back to Texas.
Bourke did some research, and learned that the custard motherland existed in Minnesota, at a company called Ross Manufacturing. A hands on kind of guy, Bourke realized that if he wanted to make a go of custard in Fort Worth, he needed to not mess around.
“I found out that the best people who make custard are a company called Ross Manufacturing,” says Bourke. “They sell the equipment you need, and put on a class in Minnesota. I went up there and learned how to make custard, then developed Curly’s proprietary recipes.”
This recipe remains a closely guarded secret, and well it should. Someone who has never tried Curly’s custard couldn’t possibly imagine the sweet richness, the delectable texture and taste of this delightful frozen treat. Bourke proudly states that Curly’s Custard can do backflips around any competition in terms of taste. Try some yourself, and you’ll likely join the legions of devoted repeat customers that have made Curly’s a success.
As for the growth and development of Curly’s, Bourke credits his customers.
“We have the best customers in the world,” says Bourke. “A couple of years after we opened, our customers asked if we could do burgers. For space reasons, we couldn’t, but instead we partnered with Nathan’s Hot Dogs.”
The hot dogs became another big hit for Curly’s, and directly inspired what would become Curly’s signature event: the hot dog eating contest. Customer requests also led the drive for Curly’s to add its third primary product, popsicles.
“We always strive to accomplish what our customers want,” says Bourke. “They wanted popsicles, so we did that.”
Another thing that makes Curly’s special is the freshness of its ingredients. To accomplish this quality, Bourke has partnered as often as possible with other local businesses. As a primary provider, Curly’s has paired with Ben E. Keith, which is based in Fort Worth. Another local company bakes the buns fresh every day, and the chili gets made by Dean Meat Company, also based in Fort Worth.
As for amenities, Curly’s excels at the little things that make a business popular to a hometown crowd. A drive-thru enables customers to order tasty custard from the comfort of their cars, even when its 105 degrees out. The popular outdoor seating area recently added another amenity, artificial turf, for the pleasure of adults and kids alike.
“On our patio, business has been so good, we couldn’t keep the grass growing,” says Bourke. “We did a turf lawn, so it is really comfortable for kids to run around, play football, and roll around on the turf without getting dirty.”
Another recent addition has been music, enjoyable in this same outdoor area.
“More recently, we started doing music on the third Thursday of every month from 8 PM to 9:30 PM,” says Bourke. “It’s been a lot of fun, and you don’t even have to buy anything. As a matter of fact, I’m cool with a paper cup if you want to bring beer and wine.”
If you’ve yet to experience this service, or Curly’s delightful food, start a new summertime tradition with weekly trips. As if Curly’s delectable custard, hot dogs, and popsicles aren’t enough of an excuse to visit, this July 4th at 11am will see the restaurant once again host its annual hot dog eating contest. Last year had more than 30 contestants, and this year promises to be even more of a spectacle.