Texas Ice Cream Shop That Employs People with Special Needs Gets a Sweet Surprise Grant

Howdy Homemade
Howdy Homemade

A Texas ice cream shop had struggled to stay open due to the coronavirus pandemic, but thanks to a sweet surprise grant, they can stay afloat.

Howdy Homemade of Dallas, Texas, received a $50,000 grant on the Today Show on Friday morning. The shop is known for its original flavors and its mission to exclusively hire individuals with special needs.

Founder Tom Landis said he was first inspired to open the ice cream shop when he met a man with special needs who impressed him.

“It was a real busy night at one of my other restaurants when I met Coleman (Jones), and he just immediately jumped in and helped serve food and was super friendly,” Landis explained on Today. “I called his mom up the next day and said, ‘Hey, you know, I want to hire this guy.’ He has so much potential, written all over him, and leadership.”

Now, Jones represents the store.

When the pandemic hit, Howdy Homemade, like many other businesses, was affected and had to close temporarily for the safety of its employees.

Even after Howdy Homemade reopened, customer traffic was slow, and there were a limited number of catering orders. These factors led the shop to be at risk of permanently closing.

But the community rallied around Landis and his shop, with one friend organizing a GoFundMe campaign that raised more than $100,000 for the shop and gave it more publicity than ever.

When Landis appeared on the Today Show to talk about his sweet success with his ice cream shop, one special guest, Marcus Lemonis, who hosts CNBC’s The Profit, surprised Landis with a $50,000 grant.

“I spend my whole career, my whole life, really helping businesses get to the next level, and it’s clear to me that you guys are prepared to get to that next level,” he said. “I would like to give you a $50,000 grant specifically used to hire more people to grow what you’re trying to do in the Dallas community.”

Jones and Landis were thrilled with the news. The two were already using the money from the GoFundMe to expand the business. Landis put money down on an ice cream truck and set aside money to hire more people.

“It’s humbling,” said Landis, who called Lemonis’ grant “unbelievable.”

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