Worth the Wait
Handel’s Owner Gives the Scoop On 16 Years of Success In Fishers
Photographer: Brian Brosmer
Greg Glaros grew up on Handel’s, and it only took one scoop of one flavor to get him hooked. Today, the cherry on top for the 61-year old is owning two of the most popular ice cream shops in Central Indiana.
“Chocolate pecan is Handel’s signature flavor,” Glaros says. “If you go to Youngstown, Ohio (where Handel’s originally started) that is the flavor everyone talks about. I actually bought the franchise only ever eating one flavor, which seems crazy now that I think about it. I never thought in a million years I’d own a Handel’s store. If someone had told me that one day I would open two stores in Fishers and Carmel, I would have told them they were out of their mind.”
Glaros, who grew up in Youngstown, was around seven or eight years old the first time his parents took him to the original Handel’s location. It soon became a regular occurrence for the Glaros family. Those childhood memories stuck with Glaros when he and his family moved to Indianapolis in 1992.
After working for several years in sales and marketing positions at Thomson Consumer Electronics, Glaros began searching for other opportunities. In their downtime, the family realized the ice cream shops around Indy just weren’t up to par with what they’d experienced with Handel’s in Ohio. Glaros’ brother-in-law mentioned that he heard Handel’s was franchising, and, before he knew it, Greg was searching for the right space for his first location.
The Fishers location opened in June of 2002 and recently celebrated 16 years of success. The Carmel spot opened in October of 2004.
“It all happened in a span of about eight months back then,” Glaros says. “We have been well-received in both communities. The City of Fishers has been great to us and always includes us in their activities and plans. We take a lot of pride in both locations.”
Opening the ice cream shops didn’t come without its challenges early on. Glaros’ dreams for the Carmel location almost melted in the beginning. The Handel’s in Carmel is located right by The Fresh Market and off the main road.
Unlike the Fishers shop, that lack of curbside appeal in Carmel, at least early on, proved to be tough for the location. Glaros’ says there were several times he thought the store was going to have to be closed, but through strategies like grassroots marketing, coupon offers and free ice cream cones, customers started to get word about the ice cream shop.
“In the beginning, it was very challenging because we are hidden from the street,” Glaros says. “Never underestimate the power of the road.”
Once people try Handel’s, it doesn’t take long before they come back for more. Those who have been to either location, especially the Fishers store right off the road on 116th St, know that the lines are always long.
Handel’s has become a meeting place of sorts for families, couples and friends — hanging out in those long lines to get a scoop or two of their favorite flavor while enjoying the company of others. Glaros says a big reason for success all these years has been because of customers telling their family and friends about the experiences they’ve had at Handel’s.
“Word-of-mouth has kept both of our locations very busy,” Glaros says. “Today, when we light up our sign on those awnings, it is like a beacon. We’ve become a very social place, a gathering place for the community.”
And the lines truly are long — no matter the season. Glaros’ says the reason for that is simple: the ice cream is worth the wait and the service is great.
“The product really is great, and that is the reason that I opened the stores,” Glaros says. “We use the best mix, the best ingredients, ripples and add-ins. We don’t skimp. If you get our butter-pecan or chocolate-pecan, whatever flavor it is, you are not going to be looking for the add-ins. If you order cookie dough, it will be full of cookie dough. I feel like we deliver a quality product, and that is really our claim to fame.”
When you make a trip to Handel’s, odds are a teenager will be the one handing you your ice cream. That is by design. Glaros says the business is hard work, and it helps to have teenagers in the back who have plenty of energy to do it.
Not to mention, it is a fun first job for most kids. Over the years, Glaros has even had former employees return with their own children.
“It is a cool place to work, and the kids enjoy it,” Glaros says. “We’ve had great people work here the last 16 years, we’ve been very lucky.”
Community involvement remains to be a key focus for both Handel’s stores. Over the years, both the Carmel and Fishers locations frequently sponsor local organizations or high school sports teams for fundraising nights, where a percentage of what is made goes back to those organizations.
Recently in Fishers, Handel’s paired with the city and local artist, Craig Martin, for their main side wall to be featured with a new, beautiful mural. A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held in June to celebrate the painting. Glaros also added new benches in July for customers to be able to sit and enjoy their ice cream.
Those benches are certainly needed during the summer. Glaros estimates between June and July about 50 tubs of ice cream a day are made. Glaros’ son, Jonny, helps run the stores, and Greg expects Handel’s to continue to be family-run for years to come.
When he reflects on all these years in business, Glaros is simply thankful to be a part of both Fishers and Carmel and excited for what the future might bring.
“I’m very proud to be the owner,” Glaros says. “When I meet people and tell them who I am, they talk about how much they love Handel’s. Or when I get to take my family and grandkids, there is always some story about them and Handel’s, which is great. We are happy that so many people enjoy it.”
Handel’s Homemade Ice Cream & Yogurt is located at 8760 E 116th St. in Fishers, or you can give them a call at 317-585-8065. The Carmel store is located at 2466 E 146th St. and can be reached at 317-705-1855. For more information, visit them online at handelsicecream.com/indy.