Searcy chamber president there's a new buyer for Yarnell's

    7:09 PM, Dec 1, 2011   |    comments
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    SEARCY, Ark. (KTHV) - One day after the Yarnell's Ice Cream plant went on the auction block, there's renewed hope for a second chance at the Searcy staple.

    The President of the Searcy Chamber of Commerce tells Today's THV that a Chicago-based company will take over the plant and produce Yarnell's ice cream.

    It's called Schulze and Birch Biscuit Co. and they actually already operate a snack food plant in Searcy. 

    The auctioneer says that the negotiations took place mainly behind closed doors during Wednesday's auction and an agreement was reached late in the day. They'd gone into those private discussions after an intial bid for the whole plant was rejected at the start of the public auction.  

    We don't know when the company will start making ice cream. But Buck Layne, the president of the Searcy Chamber of Commerce, says the company intends to take over the plant and make the same Yarnell's Ice Cream we've all known for decades.   

    Earl Williamson tightens up his load Thursday at the Yarnell's Ice Cream plant in Searcy, one day after buying some storage racks and a freezer at an auction here.

    "We'll have a couple gallons in there just in remembrance of Yarnell's," Williamson said about the freezer.   

    It's a tribute that may not be needed down the road, based on news buzzing around town.    

    "In the coffee shop this morning, people were really talking about it, excited about it all and hoping more will come of it," Williamson said.

    Williamson's referring to a $1.3 million dollar bid on the plant negotiated late into Wednesday's auction.  It's from a company called Schulze and Birch Biscuit of Chicago. It already operates this snack foods plant in Searcy.   

    "They are going to produce the Yarnell's Ice Cream, now what the plant's actually going to be called I'm not sure, but they do intend to produce ice cream at this facility," Buck Layne said.

    Buck Layne, President of the Searcy Chamber of Commerce, says the company's bid includes the physical plant, the land and intellectual property like the Yarnell's name.  And a winning bidder on Yarnell's recipes Wednesday, the auctioneer tells us, had to return them.

    The company let go 120 Searcy workers back in June.

    "The number of jobs has not been discussed at this point in time. We are hopeful that a number of those people will have an opportunity to come back to work," Layne said.

    Williamson knew some of the laid off workers and now remains hopeful that they'll return.

    "There was a low and now a high again; we just have to ride this out and look for good things to happen," Williamson said.     

    Today's THV talked to Company President Kevin Boyle by phone Wednesday, who feels it's too early to come out and say anything formal right now. But he did confirm their bid and says their plan of action once the bid is approved is to test the market and see what consumers and buyers want.

    Searcy City Attorney Buck Gibson says a bankruptcy judge could approve the bid in the next 30 days. And then a closing would happen. The bankruptcy trustee representing Yarnell's will be holding a press conference on the company's bid Friday morning.

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