Stonington Borough, CT
Mystic Chamber of Commerce
Noank Historical Society
RICHMOND — Jayana Konturas accepts a customer’s tip with a smile. She is just 3, but her parents have opened a new business, and it is very much a family affair.
Westerly residents Jason and Caylan Konturas bought the Del’s Frozen Lemonade franchise at 1135 Main St. in Richmond in December and opened for business last month. They have always loved Del’s, so much so that at their wedding, Del’s was served at the reception.
Jason Kontouras has owned the Extreme Tan tanning salon on Granite Street in Westerly for 11 years.
“It’s a seasonal thing, where in the winter, you can come to me and keep warm, and in the summer, now you can come see me and cool off. I think that’s cool, because now, I’ve made a full year out of seasonal businesses,” he said.
The new restaurant is called Extreme Freeze.
“I’m all about branding,” Jason said. “My salon has been branded ‘Extreme Tan,’ we have our logo. So ‘Extreme Freeze,’ it’s co-branding.”
Since February, Jason and Caylan have been renovating not only the restaurant, but the menu as well. In addition to Del’s lemonade, Extreme Freeze offers a selection of Gifford’s premium ice cream and other snacks like French fries, nachos and fried dough. There’s also a new dining room.
“The other guy had this closed off, and you just got it to go. We want people to sit and enjoy it,” Caylan said.
Jason said, “I wanted to make it like a shack that you would get down at the beach. If you go to an ice cream place, you can get French fries. You can get fried dough. Fried dough is big. It’s fair food, and that’s one thing I wanted to make sure I had.”
As Jayana digs into a large strawberry ice cream cone, Jason talks about how he acquired the restaurant.
After trying unsuccessfully to find a location in Westerly, he applied for a Del’s franchise, first in Aruba, where he and Caylan vacation every year. Then Del’s told him the Richmond franchise was for sale, and that it came with extra territory.
“What came with Richmond was Ashaway, Hopkinton, Hope Valley and Exeter. It’s a good area,” he said. “There’s one store, but you can run trucks, and that’s where you make your money.”
Konturas has three Del’s trucks, which will be parked in Hopkinton and Richmond, and, once the logistics have been worked out, Exeter.
“We’ll be at the Brick Oven on Route 3 in Hopkinton, and then, for Richmond, we’ll be in front of Golf Central,” he said.
Jason and Caylan both attended Westerly High School. Caylan then went to Rhode Island College and is just two classes short of her teaching degree. Jason graduated from Eastern Connecticut State University in 2000 with a degree in sociology and criminal justice, but he soon realized he could make more money as a waiter. He waited tables at the defunct WB Cody’s for 10 years, saved his money, and opened Extreme Tan when he was just 25.
Caylan, who is expecting the couple’s second child in June, sits quietly as Jason talks. Running the tanning salon, investing in a new business and getting it off the ground, caring for a 3-year-old and preparing for the baby have made the young family’s last few months very hectic.
“A little stressful,” she admitted. Jason, a high-energy entrepreneur, was more expansive.
“It has been crazy for me. It’s been a whirlwind for the past two months,” he said. “She’s definitely the calm one. I’m very high strung. I call her sometimes just about on the brink of tears because I can’t find the spoon that I just put down and that put me over the edge. The thing that Caylan has done, she puts it into perspective.”
Jason said the amount of money he and Caylan have invested in Extreme Freeze as “ridiculous.”
“He doesn’t know how to do things like a normal person,” Caylan said, laughing.
“For me, it’s all in or nothing,” Jason said. “So when it came to this place, why am I going to come in here and just try and make it work? Screw that. I’m going to shell out the money, get out there, I’m going to go stand out front and wave people in in a bikini if I have to.”
Konturas employs two people at his tanning salon and four at the restaurant. He’ll be adding another four employees once the Del’s trucks start going out. As customers come in, Jason stands up quickly to serve them.
“He can’t sit still,” Caylan said. “This is good for him. He’s been looking for a business and this came around and he jumped on it. “I was kind of skeptical at first because we’d saved a little money and you dish out that money. It was scary at first, but if anyone can make it work, he can make it work.”
Follow Cynthia Drummond on Twitter: @CynthiaDrummon4