Summer in New England would never be complete without visits to the local ice cream shop. New Englanders love ice cream. In fact, we consume some 15 quarts per year. Last week, while travelling on Cape Cod, I reconnected with friends John and Heather Lynch who own and operate the Holy Cow ice cream stand in North Falmouth.
For the Lynches, there’s more to Holy Cow than 50 flavors, fresh waffle cones, and homemade brownie bit toppings. For them, it’s about family, entrepreneurship, and building community.
Although Holy Cow might only be open from the traditional summer season – Memorial Day through Labor Day, seven days a week – it has had a strong impact on the lives of many teenagers and has become a heart and soul of the quaint little village of North Falmouth.
Starting the business from scratch
Although an accomplished IT professional with Fidelity, Harvard Pilgrim, and BCBS on his resume, John wanted to “do his own thing”. John wanted a hobby or business pursuit away from corporate America, expressly seeking closer interactions with real folks—neighbors, tourists, and summer cape residents.
His wife Heather had ventured out on her own by purchasing a hair salon business a few years back. It is now called Muse and it is conveniently located adjacent to Holy Cow in the village. That’s perfect for the Lynches’ two daughters Cecilia and Joan, who work at both businesses and are learning the keys to customer relations, product management, payroll, accounting, marketing – all in a very fun way. They even get a chance to hire and manage some of their friends – a task that is especially challenging for a teenager!
According to John, the physical location and serving the community came first. Then they had to figure out what kind of business venture the family would dive into. John loved the location. He knew it from childhood and it is walkable from North Falmouth Village and Megansett Beach.
Heather was instrumental in determining that the business should be ice cream instead of the vegetable stand it used to be. John spearheaded the project build-out of Holy Cow, in the tradition of rustic Cape Cod sweet shops. Heather and John came up with the name together in roughly three seconds and the store has been a success from day one.
What about the ice cream?
Yes, it’s delicious (homemade by Gifford’s Ice Cream) and it is served by teenagers who take on a lot of responsibility while chocking up solid work experience. The top five flavors at Holy Cow are Deer Tracks, Chocolate Lover’s Chocolate, Mississippi, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough and Cookies and Cream.
The owners favor Raspberry and Lemon Sorbet because, “ the flavors just crackle.’ Holy Cow employees create and decorate home made ice cream cakes and pies.
Cup vs. cone: You’ve got to try the made-to-order waffle cone. They are handcrafted, served warm, and put out an incredible vanilla scent that wafts through wafts the store and even out into the outdoor seating area where young families can enjoy their summer treats in the Holy Cow garden.
Serving the community, not just banana splits
John’s roots in Falmouth go back some four decades. He’s seen a lot of changes and was never afraid to get involved in serving the Falmouth community through a variety of school and sports activities that the girls participated in over the years. Today, he views Holy Cow as an extension of coaching and mentoring kids through their teen years.
Over the past four years, Holy Cow and Muse have sponsored the Paul White race (which granted $6000 in local student scholarships this year). Holy Cow and Muse are “friends” of the Falmouth Hospital Auxiliary, have donated ice cream for a number of community ice cream social, and have sponsored the annual Nye’s Neck Ice Cream Social.
Over the last four years, the Lynches have taken some risks, served the local community, and grown as a family. The people of Falmouth – even those flocking tourists—appreciate how a small business can do well by doing good and serve an important role to bring people together from all walks of life.
Fortunately, everyone loves ice cream – and for Holy Cow and the North Falmouth area, it has proved to be incredible means to community building and enjoying a classic summer pastime.
Holy Cow Fun Factoids:
• 15 teenage student employees
• Students attend Falmouth Academy, Cape Cod Academy, Falmouth High School, Thayer Academy, Bishop Stang, Providence College, Cape Cod Community College, Roger Williams, NY School for Dramatic Arts
• One employee is a pilot
• One employee is an accomplished violinist
• Three employees are Falmouth High School cheerleaders
• One employee is a harpist
• One former employee is working in film & television in Los Angeles
• Owner John Lynch plays guitar and sings on Sunday nights for “Acoustic Sundae”
• Freshly made waffle cones
• More than 50 flavors of Gifford’s ice cream, sherbets, yogurts and sorbets
Visit them on Facebook at Holy Cow Ice Cream!