One of the first things I said upon meeting The Yard Milkshake Bar franchise owners Rodney and Shanen Cottingham was about how excited my children are that these incredible, sweet creations are coming to Madison.
To be honest, though I may say that there’s no one more excited than our kids, I’m actually just as excited as they are. I just like to use my kids as an excuse to frequent places like this that “they’re” excited to go to. #momhack
“Oh, kids, you want this milkshake with caramel sauce, chocolate drizzle, and a slice of cheesecake and a million other things all wrapped into one? OKAY, FINE. But Mom gets a bite, or 10.”
The Yard Milkshake Bar in Madison, Alabama
In case you missed it, it was announced earlier this year that a location of this fairly new Gulf Shores-based milkshake chain is coming to Town Madison – i.e. the Trash Pandas stadium community.
And good news! Construction on the location is nearing completion and is scheduled to open on or about April 23rd.
I recently sat down with Rodney and Shanen to find out how a Madison location came to be (psst: there are currently only about 10 in the nation!) and learn the ins and outs of what community members can expect before they first visit the store.
The Cottinghams, busy parents with three children ages 10-17, were down in Gulf Shores, Alabama in 2019 playing travel baseball. It was World Series time!
Rodney shared that after a game, someone suggested that the entire team go find “this milkshake place that we supposedly have to go to.”
He said that the line to get in appeared to be a mile long, and he and his wife were shocked.
“We were told though that the wait would be worth it, so we stayed.”
The Cottinghams had no idea that waiting in that line would actually change the trajectory of their lives.
Rodney says that he wasn’t even halfway through his speciality shake when he looked at Shanen with a smile and said “We have to have one of these.”
They took the bull by the horns, talked to a manager right then and there, and luckily learned that the idea of franchising had just become a topic of conversation amongst the owners of the location. Two hours after the first sips of their milkshakes, they walked out of The Yard with plans to bring their very own to Madison.
Why Madison, Alabama?
Shanen, a native of this area and graduate of Sparkman High School, says that she knew immediately it had to be within the Town Madison community by the stadium (that was still heavily under construction at the time).
“We love baseball, so it had to be by the baseball stadium,” shared Shanen with an excited, confident smile.
She shared that they’ve been working with the developers of the community for the last two years and say that they’ve had a fantastic experience bringing this concept to life within this community.
“We don’t have one negative thing to say about the Trash Pandas staff or any of the retail or residential developers within Town Madison,” shared Rodney. “They have been top-notch and made this a great journey for us. We’re so grateful.”
What to Expect at The Yard Milkshake Bar
“It’s an experience,” shared Rodney with a laugh. “There is nothing like it.”
He says that that moment of being handed that massive shake makes eyes go wide and smiles grow big for children and adults alike.
The specialty shakes that The Yard is known for generally consist of a creamy milkshake served inside of a souvenir glass Mason jar which is coated in sweet sauces and topped with cookies, cupcakes, brownies, cheesecake, cookie dough balls, and so much more.
These specialty shakes are obviously substantial in size and “absolutely sharable with someone you love”, says Shanen.
We all joked about how “Instagrammable” these shakes are and how most can’t help but snap a picture of the creation like none they’ve ever had before.
“I brought out a shake to an 83-year-old gentleman and his wife down in Gulf Shores, and the first thing I saw him do was to take out his phone and snap a picture of it,” shared Rodney. “It was awesome.”
What many people do not know though…
… is that The Yard has a substantial menu of all kinds of desserts. Those big ole’ milkshakes are just one portion of it!
“You can order just a shake if you want to,” shared Rodney. “Order a slice of cheesecake by itself if you’d like. I promise you if the best cheesecake you’ll ever eat!”
Just want the edible cookie dough as pictured above? Go for it!
Guests are welcome to order a scoop of the specialty ice cream by itself in a cup or cone, or they can dress up scoops of ice cream as a specialty creation instead of having it all piled on top of a milkshake.
The Cottinghams agree that the best thing about The Yard is that guests can break down the menu and fully customize and order exactly what they want.
“Try the gluten-free cookie,” shared Rodney. “It’s incredible!”
Several dozen flavors of ice cream will be available every day. Guests will also be able to bring back their glass souvenir jar for $2 off a signature shake refill during their next visit.
A brand new shake will be on the menu at this location, and the Cottingham family is thrilled by it. It’s called the “Graham Slam” and named after their youngest baseball-loving son, Graham.
Shanen lit up as she shared everything this new shake includes.
“Get ready for graham cracker ice cream, red and blue marshmallow drizzle, all in a chocolate iced jar that’s rolled in Rocket City sprinkle mix, topped with a s’mores edible cookie dough baseball pop, and finished off with whipped cream, extra sprinkles, and a dusting of graham cracker crumbs.”
As far as the shake creation itself goes, Shanen says that it’s a “big operation” and incredible to watch.
“Everyone has a job and a part of the assembly line,” she shared. “The craziest part is that the shake itself never moves. Everyone just moves around the shake. It’s amazing!”
Rodney encourages guests to not be dismayed by a potential line outside of the store.
“The Yard is known for its line. I promise it’s worth the wait!”
The Yard Milkshake Bar will feature a handful of indoor tables as well as a patio with 30 chairs.
*Most pictures included in this article are via Facebook.