Ice cream lovers in Indianapolis can rejoice, knowing they will soon have another brand to consider.
Brenham, Texas-based Blue Bell Creameries, whose roots in the Southern United States extend back more than a century, will have its products available in nine metropolitan area Meijer stores, as well as other grocers in the state, beginning April 5.
The ice cream maker is entering the Indiana market by leasing temporary distribution space in the Park 100 industrial complex on the northwest side.
The company plans to build a permanent, 12,000-square-foot cold-storage warehouse on a 2.9-acre tract, also in Park 100. Construction should start by summer and completion is set for the fall.
Blue Bell filed with the city for property-tax abatement on the $2.1 million building. The city’s Metropolitan Development Commission approved a five-year tax abatement for the facility at 8155 Allison Ave. It ultimately would employ 24 people, including drivers and salespeople.
A few drivers already have been hired to begin delivering the ice cream to several cities in Indiana besides Indianapolis, including Bloomington, Columbus, Kokomo, Lafayette, Richmond and Terre Haute.
The company touts a direct-store delivery program, which means only Blue Bell employees handle products from the time they are made until they reach grocery shelves.
Blue Bell entered the Louisville area a few years ago, so progressing into Indiana is a logical next step, spokesman Bill Weiss said.
“We started in Texas, but we’ve expanded slowly and inched our way more northward,” he said. "It just sort of makes sense for us to keep going.”
Dave Kellum, a sales manager for the branch office in Louisville, is moving to Indianapolis to head Blue Bell’s local operations.
Blue Bell is the nation’s third-largest ice cream maker, and its products are sold in 19 states in the South, Southwest and Midwest. Its ice cream also is sold at all Carrabba’s and Outback Steakhouse restaurants.
Blue Bell was founded in 1907 as butter maker Brenham Creamery Co. Ice cream was added to the product line four years later and, in 1930, the company changed its name to Blue Bell Creameries, after the Texas wildflower.