[Case Study]

Julie Ann’s Frozen Custard

Restaurant Marketing in Crystal Lake, IL.


Marketing independent restaurants against a sea of franchises and chains takes some smart marketing approaches. Julie Ann’s Frozen Custard is located in Crystal Lake, IL and has been in business since 1985. The are a family owned and operated company that is owned by John (93 years old) and Mary (92 years old) Zielnicki with their daughter Linda Anderson. They have a single shop in Crystal Lake, IL with ambitious plans to expand to multiple corporate owned and operated stores while growing their wholesale business to restaurants and grocery stores.

Here’s some selected work to show how we are growing their business one campaign at a time.


A family and owned and operated frozen custard restaurant symbolizes what is great about Midwest sensibilities and values. Linda and her parents are hard working, dedicated to the grind, and want to support the community in many ways.

Unfortunately, the reality of competing against large franchise systems and publicly-traded corporate restaurant systems is one of the reasons for high failure rates in the restaurant category. Julie Ann’s is bootstrapped and must grow to survive. Julie Ann’s must also advertise on a shoe string budget.

They only sell frozen custard. Most restaurants in this category sell burgers, chicken, and sandwiches and discount cheap variations of frozen custard or ice cream to bring people in.

John at 93 years of age works most days on accounting. At his age, it is difficult to add more energy to the business. Therefore, Linda pulls double duty and needed help to right her ship and grow her business while providing a great quality of life for her beloved parents.

A photo of a poster with grandma and sundae


Julie Ann’s has been an amazing client that is willing to try just about anything and push the envelop. We really feel that team work is key from the scoopers to managers to owners to our team. We have been pushing regular campaigns that focus on collaboration with makers throughout the Midwest with a special emphasis on McHenry County, IL to create social media assets that are sticky. We are increasing the quality of ingredients and environmentally friendly packaging to create a premium product. Julie Ann’s is investing into distribution channels (like a retro food truck) and creating long-term relationships with some of the best restaurants in our area. We are iterating on a throwback design ethos that is easily recognizable and will support expansion into different sales channels and additional stores. We are setting the business up for growth, one campaign at a time.


We made both short term sales goals and stretch goals to serve their mission to bring the freshest product from Cow to Cone to their customers. We are executing on a plan to bring into production ingredients made by local and regional makers. We are currently marketing ingredients like in-house specialized cookie doughs, peanut butter puppy chow, pie fillings and seasonal fruit offerings from local farmers. We have a new collaboration every month.

We are in the middle of a restoration of a 1950’s food truck that we will use to promote the restaurant and grow awareness of the products at events next year.

Based on our persona research, we helped them streamline their sizes and offerings to make the shop more environmentally friendly. Julie Ann’s now offers more compostable packaging than anyone else in McHenry County.

We are constantly improving our delivery options. This is to bolster sales during the winter months. Julie Ann’s is the highest rated restaurant on Door Dash in the county as of this writing.

We are improving the merchandise available to customers that are apart of the rewards program. Fun promotions are always in the works to increase membership.

We have iterated on the menu and online preorder system to be honest, open, and transparent about how the business functions and the ingredients we use. Julie Ann’s now has an unbelievable assortment of gluten-free options with fresh dairy-free options launching soon.

We are working with the team to bring the shop into the virtual world and vice versa. All this to provide a deep moat around the business that can last for many years to come while  building on a quest to be the top Frozen Custard spot in the country.