The Custard Stand, owned and operated by Arvard “Dee” and Angie Cowger, is a carry-out dairy bar and a producer of hot dog chili located in Webster Springs, WV. Started in 1992, the dairy bar serves over 50,000 hot dogs each year topped with chili from a family recipe dating from the 1920s. The product is an all beef hot dog chili with no sugar, fillers, additives, or preservatives and a unique taste that reminds the consumer of a homemade chili.
In June of 2003 Dee and Angie started to sell their hot dog chili in both the retail and wholesale markets. They converted a three-bay car wash attached to the dairy bar into a USDA inspected production facility. After a modest first year the business began to grow, and by early 2006 their product was being sold in over 200 locations across a five-state region. However, in order to take advantage of the increasing demand, the owners needed to expand the operation.
In early 2006, the Natural Capital Investment Fund (NCIF) and representatives of the West Virginia Small Business Development Center, together with Dee and Angie, put together a business plan to raise the additional capital needed for the expansion. NCIF provided the working capital and helped raise additional financing from the West Virginia Department of Agriculture and a local bank. NCIF also obtained grant funds to retain consulting firms to develop a cost accounting system and marketing materials for the company.
Funding provided capital for the construction of a 1,200 square foot addition and automated processing equipment that enabled the company to triple its production. The technical assistance enabled the company to enhance their financial management skills and increase their presence in the wholesale market. As a result, the company was nominated as Who’s Who in Small Business in West Virginia by the State’s leading business journal.
Custard Stand Food products opened its second restaurant location on March 1, 2009 and also reached a sales goal of $1 million in 2009.