GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — One look at the menu at Too Tall’s on Coit Avenue in Grand Rapids, and you may be overwhelmed by how many options you have.
Andrew Engle took over the business four years ago. Since then, he has made it more his own. This is his first time running an ice cream shop, but it’s far from his first time in the food industry.
“I do have a chef’s background so that’s where I was able to step in and take some really good food and make it really awesome,” he said.
Before Too Tall’s, Engle spent time attending culinary school and traveling to different restaurants, country clubs and other eateries, learning from the best and perfecting his craft.
Now in charge of his own business, he hopes to leave his mark on the neighborhood.
Engle has introduced a whole new layout inside the storefront and even repurposed a lot of the equipment that was left over from the previous owner.
On top of the physical changes, the menu itself has taken on some new items.
Barbecue is new to the menu and was brought in by Engle himself. He told News 8 it takes around 24 hours to make the brisket that’s offered daily — a long time commitment, but the passion to provide “the best brisket” makes up for it.
“You’ve got to be passionate about it. You can try to follow all the recipes and they just don’t tend to work out,” Engle said. “If you’re not micro-managing things down to the protein. I’ve had 1,000 briskets all behave in different ways.”
The food may be new, but regular customers will likely see some of their favorite hard scoop flavors brought in from Hudsonville Ice Cream. Engle said that the quality of Hudsonville made it an easy choice.
“As a chef, I want to bring the highest quality ingredients we can so we’re focusing on that,” Engle said. “Quality and good customer service everywhere.”
Other than the hard scoop ice cream, Too Tall’s also offers soft serve, which Engle said sets them apart from other ice cream stands.
“We have really high-quality soft serve machines,” he said. “It has this fudgesicle feel. It has this extra layer of crystallization that gives you this mouth feel that is hard to describe unless you just try it. People notice the difference. Our quality does set us apart. We do see defectors from other places. So, whatever we’re doing seems to be doing really well.”
On top of the unique “mouth feel,” the soft serve machines also put out a new flavor that is offered every week.
The most popular flavor, according to Engle, is one of the flavors of the week: pistachio.
“It’s one that when we’re not running it, everyone’s like, ‘Do you have it? Do you have it?’” he said.
And that is where Engle’s customer service comes in. He said that when Too Tall’s is done offering the pistachio flavor that week, any leftover ice cream available will be saved and put in the freezer just in case someone comes up to the window asking for it.
It’s one way to keep customers coming back — and soon, they may have the ability to come back year-round. Engle said he has hopes of keeping Too Tall’s open throughout the year in the future, even if it’s just for the weekends. The hot food options and potential seasonal flavors of ice cream could enter the menu as well.
While there are a lot of new things to experience at Too Tall’s, Engle said he doesn’t want the customers’ traditions to change, but rather to grow with the stand.
“I’ve been here for about four years,” he said. “And since then, we’ve been just trying to keep things true to the Too Tall’s name but also elevate it as much as possible.”