The History of Twistee Treat’s Freeze and Thaw Cycle in Houston

Howdy folks, and welcome back to Houston Historic Retail! Ice cream is an essential summer treat, and for such a warm state, we lack a major presence from most frozen dessert chains other than a few ice cream parlors. We do have Dairy Queen, but unlike many other states, which feature mostly ice cream, and little food, our model is flipped. Utilizing an expanded Brazier menu, which became so common, the Brazier moniker was dropped in Texas around the 80s. For years, Texas has been the “wild west” for anyone looking to expand the concept. For those not in the know, Twistee Treat is a quick service, mostly desert-based restaurant based out of Florida. The chain’s offering includes ice cream, “Cookiewiches,” and “Waffle Tacos.” The first Twistee Treat locations in Texas were operated by a franchisee operating out of Austin, who seems to have been focused mainly on the Corpus Christi and RGV areas. While most evidence of these early stores has been lost to time, some nicely preserved photos can be found via Roadarch. The original Twistee Treat corporation would go bankrupt and reform multiple times, each time looking to try and expand but folding after not being able to sustain this expansion. In what can be described as a freeze-and-thaw cycle, the most successful franchisees generally would purchase the remains of their chain and slowly rebuild to the point where they’re ready to expand once again. It’s during one of these expansions, on the heels of success, that Twistee Treat entered Houston. In late 2016, Twistee Treat would reenter Texas at 3538 S Texas 6, Houston, TX 77082, on a formerly undeveloped plot of land. Twistee Treat had ambitious plans of 40-50 locations in Houston, with eight open by the end of the next year. However, Twistee Treat wouldn’t come anywhere near this goal.

Twistee Treat’s corporate backers mentioned that they believed Houston would be a winner due to its climate similarity with Florida. One of the main draws of the chain is the lack of a dining room, meaning that the buildings could be constructed for relatively cheap compared to most other fast food chains. In theory, this shouldn’t have had much of an effect as a large portion of fast food traffic is drive-thru, and anyone else could use the walk-up windows.  However, reality turned out differently from theory reducing their store count to only two in Houston in 2019.

All in all, Twistee Treat would only end up opening these five locations. While never publically announced, low performance likely is what has nearly killed off Twistee Treat in Houston. The locations are somewhat hit-and-miss, and it does seem that possibly the lack of a dining room is a deterrent. As while our climate is similar to Florida, there is a significant portion of the year where sitting outside will melt your ice cream fast than you can finish it! Unfortunately, I’m allergic to milk and am not really interested in hitting up Twistee Treat for a likely microwaved hot dog and a can of Coke. However, the closed and remaining locations all have excellent Google Reviews. So if you’re an ice cream fan (watch me as I’m passing by), consider giving Twistee Treat a stop! It’s one of the more unique Broken Chains to operate in Houston.

One comment

  1. I tried the Tidwell location once and didn’t care for the flavor, slightly lower quality than Sonic or DQ for a slightly higher price. Maybe I should try again while I still can.

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