Howdy Homemade has been the source of sweet treats in the Dallas community since 2015.
The ice cream shop prides itself on hiring employees with special needs. Specifically, those who are on the Autism spectrum and who have Down syndrome.
Now, the company is expanding nationally.
“I love the underdog. When you tap into a group of people that no one does, it’s a beautiful thing,” owner Tom Landis said.
The shop was the underdog in 2020. When the pandemic forced businesses to close their doors, the future didn’t look good for Howdy Homemade. At one point, Landis said he just knew they were going to have to close. They put out an urgent plea to the public to keep the doors open.
North Texas and the nation responded.
Howdy Homemade was even on NBC's "TODAY With Hoda and Jenna" in the fall of 2020 for their work with people who have special needs. Through social media and a crowdfunding page, the community helped raise more than $100,000 not only to keep the ice cream shop open but also to buy them an ice cream truck so they could take the business on the road.
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“Our community did this. They kept us open. Our employees deserve this. The best sources of humanity are some of the people I employ. They are real and they are authentic,” Landis said.
They are now taking that authenticity national as they open five franchise shops in El Paso, McAllen, Houston, Las Cruces, New Mexico and Ashville, North Carolina.
"That's not it though. We currently have more than 140 people interested in franchising as well," Landis said.
Landis hopes his business model is a lesson for other entrepreneurs nationally.
“I think if other businesses just looked at the interview process just a little different and have a little more patience, they will have people who will work with them for life. It’s humbling that my employees care more about my business than I do. You start to think with people like that, there is no stopping us,” Landis said.
Howdy Homemade’s original store is located at 12300 Inwood Road in Dallas.