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Brooklet's Dairy Barn
Opening Saturday, Cain's offers Blue Bell ice cream plus coffee
Cains Counter Web
Surrounded by new ice cream and coffee equipment, including containers of sprinkles, Amanda Cain is almost ready to open Cain's Dairy Barn this weekend on East Lee Street in Brooklet. - photo by AL HACKLE/Staff

               Cain's Dairy Barn, a new ice cream and coffee shop in Brooklet, is slated to open at noon Saturday.
        Amanda and Michael Cain, parents of a blended family equaling in size the Brady Bunch of TV lore, are establishing the business for the next phase of their lives. It is a family project aimed at attracting a family-oriented, neighborhood clientele to the shop at 108 East Lee Street.
        "We have six kids and we came here because of the school district," said Amanda Cain. "It's just much better here for them."
        But Brooklet being a "little town, there's just nowhere for the kids to go after church, after games," she said. "So we wanted to create an atmosphere for the kids, for the families, some place for them to say, ‘I want to go to the barn for some ice cream,' you know?"
        Sgt. 1st Class Michael Cain is a senior instructor in the NCO Academy at Fort Stewart. He has served 19½ years in the Army, was deployed multiple times to Iraq, and is considering retirement from the service when he reaches the 20-year mark, his wife said.
        Herself a civilian employee of the Army, Amanda Cain works part-time as a medical support assistant, on the business side of medical services, at Hunter Army Airfield, and has done similar work for about five years.
        The Cains did research on the area and chose Brooklet as their hometown when he was reassigned to Fort Stewart from Hawaii. Before Hawaii, they had lived in Texas and at Fort Benning near Columbus. They have now been Brooklet residents for a year.

Students of business
        Both of the Cains attained associate degrees while at Fort Benning and are now each studying for a BBA, or Bachelor of Business Administration, through online classes with Troy University.
        "Maybe," she will continue her work at the Army post longer-term, Amanda Cain said.
        "My dream would be just to be here," she said at the ice cream shop, which occupies one in a row of brick storefronts in the quaintly early 20th-century heart of Brooklet's downtown. Numbers 102,104,106 and 108 East Lee were built in 1928, according to Bulloch County tax records. The Cains are leasing 108 from the Denmarks who own Denmark's Furniture Mart.
        "When we first moved here I loved driving down this little historic area," Amanda Cain said. "I love old buildings, and I passed it several times and it was always empty, so I said ‘I'm just going to call them.'"
        The Cains found a big barn door in a wall inside the shop, separating it from a neighboring storefront. With no modification, the door became part of the "Dairy Barn" décor and an inspiration for the name.
        But the couple did extensive interior work, including painting throughout the shop and renovating the restrooms. They extended the service counter to support the cash register as well as the coffee making equipment and replaced the countertop. Michael Cain, who has carpentry skills, did a lot of the work himself as they added rustic-looking wood around the counter and ice cream display freezer to match the barn door. They have even added a second, narrower "barn" door visible behind the counter.
        Cain's Dairy Barn will serve Blue Bell ice cream. It will have 15 varieties to start but the plan is to eventually offer all 30 flavors, Amanda Cain said. The shop will offer homemade waffle cones and regular cake cones.
        The coffee selection will include regular black coffee, caramel cappuccinos and iced lattes at first, but other varieties yet, she said. It isn't custom-made or locally roasted coffee. But Cain said she has contacted Serving Brewing Co. in Savannah about buying its root beer for root beer floats.
        "We actually got to taste the root beer the other day, and it is so good," Cain said.
        She is also talking to doughnut shops about adding their doughnuts to the shop in Brooklet.

Every kid's dessert
        The shop will serve a banana split, but it will be called Hannah Banana after daughter Hannah. Then there's a turtle dessert named for Haylie and the Katie Bug for Katelyn. The Cains' sons will also have desserts named for them, but based on middle or nicknames or activities, "Britten" for Joshua, "Chubs" for Dominic and "Quarterback" for Quinten.
        The kids are ages 16, 14, 13, 13, 9 and 7. The oldest daughter, 16, will work at the shop, and her mother said creating jobs for other local teens is another hope she has. Cain is starting with two employees besides herself. She worked at a Dairy Queen in Illinois as a teenager, and that was her previous food service experience.
        Amanda Cain registered Cain's Dairy Barn LLC in June as Georgia limited-liability company. Getting the shop started took an investment of maybe $25,000, with the larger portion in the building renovations and less in the equipment and supplies, she said. The Cains didn't seek any special financing but took out a small loan from Citizens Bank.
        The shop's logo, on the sign going out front, features a cow that looks both ice cream-happy and coffee-intense, holding a cone and a cup. A human-sized cow mascot named Dinky is slated to greet kids at the opening.
         For now, the Cains plan to open the shop seven days a week, 4:30 p.m. till 9 p.m. weekdays but 7 a.m. till 9 p.m. weekends.
        Besides some small tables, the shop features one big one. Back in Hawaii, the Cains found that most restaurant tables were small.
        "So that's why we made sure to have a big family table here," she said. "We want big families to know that they can come in and still feel comfortable."
        Herald reporter Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9458.

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