Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Local business owners Ricky and Monica Patel, recently opened their fifth business in Madera, a Cold Stone Creamery on 1653 N Schnoor St #101.
Cold Stone Creamery, Madera’s newest ice cream shop, is the culmination of some eight years of work on the part of the owner and his family.
The opening of the ice cream shop has been eight years in the making.
For owner Ricky Patel, it’s the sixth business he has opened since he started with Swirl Smoothie and Nutrition Shop in 2011. Now, he is looking for more. Patel has three more businesses planned in the next few months.
“It feels great to finally get it opened,” Patel said. “I felt accomplished and blessed. I got told 14 times, “No.” They were saying it was going to be unsuccessful and it wasn’t the market for it. If you don’t believe in yourself, you have to go with it. Great things happen. If you take the loss, then go back up and do something else. If you have the motivation going, a lot of things are accomplished.”
In addition to Swirl and Cold Stone Creamery, Patel and his wife Monica have opened Evolution Strength and Conditioning and a Swirl distribution center. He also opened a Swirl Express, but closed it when he opened Evolution. He also took over ownership of Casa Grande Motel on Ave. 12 and State Route 99.
“Our company took over 50 percent of the hotel,” Patel said. “We want to expand it. Avenue 12 is going to be expanding dramatically. We want to be proactive and get things moving. Chevy is looking to moving there. There will be a truck stop over there. The college is thinking about expanding there. Those are all in the works. We closed Swirl express because we have a smoothie bar in the gym and it’s right down the street.”
Patel came to Madera in 1999 and started working at Home Depot. He spent a few years there before coming wanting to open a Cold Stone Creamy. But, he hit a snag.
“They came out and approved it,” he said. “We were supposed to be where Baskin Robbins is. We went to 14 different banks. I had about $100,000 saved up. After 14 times, ‘What do I need to do?’ I had already been into fitness and health. I was in the Midwest and saw the concepts of smoothies and nutrition. That’s when I took the $100,000 I had and opened Swirl. From Swirl, we went to Swirl Express, then the gym, Swirl distribution and now Cold Stone.”
Next for Patel is a wellness center that will open right next door to Cold Stone. The center will feature cryotherapy using liquid nitrogen.
“It replicates a 30 minute ice bath and do it in three minutes and reap the benefits of it,” he said. “There are two places in Fresno and Clovis, but they’re at a rehabilitation center and are a bit pricey. We’re going to make it more cost friendly, about $25 a session. The building is ready to go. We’re waiting for this to calm down a little. We have to start within three months. I already told the landlord we’re going to take the space next door.”
He will also move Swirl to the same side of the complex as Cold Stone. Current Swirl neighbor Cazadores has plans to expand.
“We’ll take a larger spot with a sit-down area, fresh juicing and will try to do health foods,” Patel said.
“Ricky creates the ideas,” Monica said. “We, as a family, try to make it happen, to make it work. He’s onto the next idea and we’re still trying to take care of the last idea.”
While still reaping the benefits of Cold Stone’s opening, Patel is already thinking of his next venture. After the wellness center, he will open a business consulting and investment group called Hand-in-Hand Investment Group.
“We will take projects we want to open for the town and own 30-40 percent of it and the rest will be community funded and they have a stake in it,” he said. “It will be driven by telling our friends and family about it. It will be self-sustained for a small community. Our purpose is to help job growth, community tax revenue and community growth. The principal is if we do that to this town, we can apply that same principal to other smaller towns and keep growing as a company and developing different communities.”
After that, Patel will also start a preportioned meal business — Mr. and Mrs. Fit Meals.
“We’re kind of in the works with all of that. We’ve done prototypes. We’re trying to find out what people are liking. My buddy is doing the same thing in Houston and it’s big. Ours is more for everyday folks that want a good meal.”
“I feel great,” he said. “Just having my wife with me and sharing these moments and know we have each other’s back and completing these tasks together. It’s a family affair. We have a strong foundation. Everyone we’ve come across wants to help. We want to help also. It’s a mutual respect. I was born in San Francisco. Coming from a big town to somewhere small where community involvement is so big is so awesome.”
Patel is determined to put Madera on the commercial map. He hopes that by creating good commercial businesses, it would help Madera’s numbers in bringing in more business to the community.
“Everyone visits outside of Madera and sees things that we can utilize from outside and bring back to our own community,” he said. “I’m just willing to take that plunge and say let’s do this. That’s the concept of our next project, Hand-in-Hand Investment group. We want to bring outside different businesses here. If we start continuing to build businesses, it becomes a trend and other bigger companies see development.
“If we’re developing a good steady stream of numbers, they see we’re a good city to build in. We can plant seeds and make it happen as long as more people take the plunge and invest in this town.”
“Sometimes, I’ll try to knock some sense into him,” Monica said. “He never stops working. He just wants to work all the time. I have no other option than to support him and do the work with him. Because if he’s working, that means I have to work. We got married four months after Swirl opened. These past eight years, we’ve opened a business almost every year. We’ve been very busy.”
Patel is confident in the success of Cold Stone, just like he was when he first wanted to open the ice cream shop eight years ago.
“We’ve kind of tapered off since the opening,” he said. ‘When we did the forecasting and projections, we’re falling into the place we’re supposed to be. We’re familiar with the numbers. The highest grossing store in Northern California is in Visalia. Our numbers are projecting with the other stores, but a little higher. We’ve been in the top five of Northern California. I know we’ll come down a little, but I’m okay with it.”
Even though he has five businesses and more in the works, he knows he will be able to handle it because of his philosophy and because of the support from his family, especially his wife.
“We’re not like the old school business owners where they’re 24/7 in their facilities,” Patel said. “We hire people. We’re more okay taking time away from the businesses. We’ll always pop in. Swirl is self-managed and the gym is self-managed. We’re not any of those places. We’ll stop in, but rarely. Our focus is on Cold Stone, right now. We’re not thinking about what’s going on. We trust our employees to make the right decisions and give them the leeway to make those decisions.”
“We do everything together,” Monica said. “Even when we opened Express, we all worked to get it open. We’ve always been family-oriented.”