COVID-19 delays opening of Safford Taylor Freeze but construction continues

Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: Construction continues on the new Safford Taylor Freeze. The owners are hopeful of a mid-April opening even as dine-in options are currently not permitted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

By Jon Johnson

GRAHAM COUNTY – Like with other items, getting supplies in for the new Taylor Freeze south of Safford has been delayed, but construction continues with a hopeful opening in the middle of April. 

Final concrete work and dirt leveling were taking place last week to allow for asphalt paving of the parking lot, road, and surrounding areas. All of the surface water from the street and property will be funneled into a large water retention area to the east of the restaurant just off U.S. Highway 191.

Owner Joe Goodman told the Gila Herald that the main hold up on the restaurant is that they haven’t been able to get the equipment they use to cook the food delivered. That, along with lesser-manned crews, have pushed back their potential opening date into April.

Once the equipment is in place, the inside will get a thorough cleaning and training can then begin. 

“Then we can actually start training and cooking stuff even if the outside isn’t quite done,” Joe Goodman said.  

The new location can fit three of the original Pima Taylor Freeze buildings inside of it and has 3,300 square feet of interior space complimented by a covered 1,200 square foot patio for outdoor dining. It also has an even larger outdoor area for entertaining. 

Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: The heart of the new restaurant is this large, stainless steel hood.

If dine-in options are still prohibited by the time the new Taylor Freeze opens, the restaurant does feature an innovative drive-through where orders will be taken by an attendant instead of a speaker box. The restaurant also has a separate area for frozen goodies, such as ice cream and shake orders, a giant walk-in refrigerator and freezer, a large dry storage room and office space. Most of the equipment and prep areas – including sinks – are all stainless steel. A very large hood is the heart of the operation and includes a secondary air intake that brings air from the outside back into the inside to replace the air taken out by the hood as it sucks up the smoke from the grill. Additionally, all of the food prep for both locations will eventually take place at the new restaurant to secure a consistent product, according to Joe Goodman. 

The new restaurant will also streamline orders by compartmentalizing jobs so while one person takes the order, another person rings up the food and takes the money while another person makes it. 

“So, while she’s ringing up the sundae and taking the money somebody is making it,” Joe Goodman said. “At (the) Pima (location), I have to take your order and I have to run around and finish the whole thing.”  

A classic-car theme permeates the walls and the outside will feature LED lighting to go with the enormous new sign on the front. 

Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: An interior sign decoration waits to be hung.

The Taylor Freeze previously completed a two-day job fair at the end of February in which the owners interviewed 197 people for positions at the new location.

This April marks the 52nd year of operation for the Pima Taylor Freeze with the last 16 being owned and operated by Joe and Sheryl Goodman. 

The new location just south of Safford will initially be open for just lunch and dinner, but eventually, the owners want to expand by offering a breakfast menu as well. 

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