Jarling’s Custard Cup got its start in 1949 in Danville, Illinois. They began as a small town ice cream parlor, selling the custard recipe that George Potter, the original owner, created. In 1983, Doug and Christy Jarling opened the Champaign location, and the rest was history. Jarling’s had a nice long history in Champaign under Doug and Christy’s supervision, and in the summer of 2016 the restaurant changed hands. Led by entrepreneur Tom Siegel, Jarling’s Custard Cup is now owned by an investment company called Alpha Custard Cup, LLC, which has plans to ensure Jarling’s continues to be a staple in the Champaign-Urbana community.
Tom has a desire to see Jarling’s grow. He sees it staying open year round, and releasing new products and flavors seasonally. He’d also like to consider new locations in the community. This appetite to grow encourages him to focus on the community as well. Some of the investors grew up here and ate Jarlings as children, then returned to coach sports teams and were delighted to invest in a childhood institution. Tom says one of the investors from the Sholem family had a summer job at Jarling’s. These emotional connections make owning this business incredibly rewarding, and they want to expand these rewards to current employees as well.
Tom knows that his employees are the most important part of Jarling’s success. He is invested in their future as well as their experience at this small town ice cream shop. Jarling’s offers education assistance for those working who need money for college. They also support year-round employment, not just summer hours. He stresses the importance of keeping employees engaged, “I want it to be fun, not a dreaded job. I want employees to have good feelings about this work experience.” Jarling’s is also focused on providing education to children. Schools can plan tours of the shop in the mornings, where children can go through and learn about science through the art of making ice cream. They also get to sample some of the finished product, which is the best way to learn anything. Although it has changed hands, Jarling’s is still a cultural staple of Champaign.