THIS POST WAS UPDATED AT 4:50 P.M.: We now have a photo of the Comfy Cow mascot supplied to me anonymously an hour ago. I must admit, I’m surprised by this. It takes bull-sized balls to send a Comfy Cow mascot into a Pie Kitchen soft opening, much less on a business day.

I’ll add this as well: This is all but a red cape waved in the face of a successful business bull like Adam Burckle, and that may place Comfy Cow on the wrong side of his horns. He’s not wealthy and successful by accident. He’s accomplished because he’s driven and isn’t afraid of competition.

Who knew the sweet business of ice cream could get so bitter in the space of a week?

Well, if you buy into the acrimony of the catty-chatty cacophony on the restaurant forum of Louisville HotBytes, you might imagine the relationship between those two ice creameries has already curdled.

A summary of the silliness: The highly regarded Comfy Cow opened its highly anticipated third ice cream and desserts shop this month at 2211 Frankfort Ave. on the site of the lowly regarded Genny’s Diner — whose loss isn’t even remotely lamented. (OK, I’ve had my alliteration fix.)

Also in October, Homemade Ice Cream & Pie Kitchen opened its 9th site at 2233 Frankfort Ave. — a distance so close, you couldn’t eat a single scoop walking from one to the other on July 4th.

On Oct. 26, the day Comfy Cow opened, LHB forum founder and host, Robin Garr, posted this comment:

“I’m sure the guys (Comfy Cow owners Tim and Roy Koons-McGee) are proud that they got open before the new Homemade Ice Cream and Pie Kitchen that decided to open across the street.

“I ran into co-owner Tim at Heine’s the other day, and he mentioned – with a big wink – that this Comfy Cow will be the only one in town that has homemade pies and cakes.   I think they’re probably going to wipe out HIC&PK at that location.”

That last line brought out the HIC&PK defenders in full force and the serious mooing began.

“What do you have against the HIC& PK?” wrote Allison Hanover.

“But you don’t think it was a bit underhanded for HPIC to decide to open a store across the street from Comfy Cow immediately after CC announced their plans?” responded Mike Hardin.

“I don’t see it as underhanded on anyone’s part. It seems like good ol competition to me,” Bill P volleyed back.

And on it’s gone for days now with accusations of rude business practices levied against HIC&PK and comments about how both Koons-McGees are good guys who shouldn’t be treated so meanly and how it’s all just capitalism and competition.

It took four days before Adam Burckle, owner of HIC&PK, finally weighed in, explaining in a 794-word reply to the nattering nabobs of negativism that his business had planned a new ice creamery in that spot in 2007, well before Comfy Cow was even a cuddly calf in the creative womb of the partners Koons-McGee.

Burckle wrote that he and the owners of the Longshot Tavern had agreed on a sale of the property, as well as a non-disclosure of the transaction to avoid harming the bar’s business as it operated until the handoff.

The reply was professional, convincing and clear, an example of persuasive writing that should be taught in college classrooms. Read the thread and see how many forumites either waved the HIC&PK flag they’d already flown or switched to HIC&PK side of the conversation. This mass change of heart would have impressed Joseph Goebbles — well had he not chomped on that cyanide capsule a few decades back.

Garr, however, wasn’t leaving it alone. He later replied:

“I too thank Adam for his post. I do think that a little more intentional effort to clarify this beforehand, based on the reality that the situation, viewed from outside, could not help but appear mighty competitive, would probably have resolved some of the confusion before it occurred.”

Burckle bristled at this comment and answered with a symbolic pie to Garr’s face:

“Robin please let me address this further with some better clarity on my behalf:

“‘They could have prevented that by being more informative sooner.’ I could not be informative sooner since, as I noted, I had a non disclosure agreement to “not” discuss the purchase or it would have violated my contract. The rumors started before the non-disclosure agreement was lifted.

“If HIC&PK had thought to anticipate the rather obvious conclusions that people would draw from the APPEARANCE” I never saw that one coming. I have a store near Graeter’s, Phlen’s, Kroger and more and never heard a word. Businesses open near each other all the time. Look at Baxter Ave with Irish bars. Volare and Varanese, El Mundo and Sol Aztecas. Why should either one of these two new Clifton businesses be held to a different standard?”

Well said, eh?

But here’s where the situation gets sticky: Burckle claims that “on our soft opening Friday night I had a competitors mascot come into our Clifton store and hand out fliers for their store to our customers.”

Wow, now, Comfy Cow! Really?

I know the Koons-McGees, and this one shocked me. They’re smart, professional, their brand is beautifully polished, their products first rate and, well, they’ve always come off as complete gentlemen.

Garr responded, “The mascot coming in with fliers sounds pushy, yes.”

Pushy, hell! If the story’s true, I’m surprised there wasn’t some, um, aggressive cow tipping at that point.

JustinHammond responded, “I see that as more than pushy; it is unprofessional and disrespectful. I’d really like to hear from The Cow’s camp on this one.” (As of 1:30 p.m. Nov. 1, there’s been no response.)

And that’s just Page 3 of 6 pages of comments.

To be fair, much of the discussion on LHB’s forum is good, informative stuff, tips from hundreds of restaurant lovers roaming the city looking for the next great food find. I visit daily to see what’s new; I’m a one-man freelance operation, so I need to be plugged into multiple outlets to learn what’s going on in the city. LHB is a good resource for that, and despite some of the untrue claims Garr has made about my work in the past, he deserves his props for providing it.

But this discussion has melted down to a Donner Party of e-cannibalism, a festival of finger pointing, toe stomping and nose thumbing that adds no value to the site and makes some of LHB’s regular raconteurs look even more ridiculous than usual—were that possible. Could they possibly … I have to ask … have mad cow disease?

But as Insider editor Terry Boyd correctly predicted this morning, this controversy will bring sales to Comfy Cow and HIC&PK, and to a hardcore capitalist like me, that’s sweet as the treats found on either side of their argued-over street.

Steve Coomes
Steve Coomes is a restaurant veteran turned award-winning food, spirits and travel writer. In his 24-year career, he has edited and written for multiple national trade and consumer publications including Nation's Restaurant News and Southern Living. He is a feature writer for Louisville magazine, Edible Louisville & The Bluegrass and Food & Dining Magazine. The author of two books, "Country Ham: A Southern Tradition of Hogs, Salt & Smoke," and the "Home Distiller's Guide to Spirits," he also serves as a ghostwriter for multiple clients.

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