Heritage, Milo, Common Grounds build community by Waco

Heritage Creamery's cookies are a tribute to Blake Batson's father, Mark. Photo credit: Trey Honeycutt

The mid-afternoon sun shines through the windows on students studying and enjoying the company of friends. Aromas of silky smooth ice cream and homemade biscuits permeate the air.

Heritage Creamery and Milo Biscuit Company, both located on Eighth Street, across from Baylor’s campus, have recently opened their doors to the public and are looking to make an impact, or establish a heritage, for years to come.

Heritage Creamery is owned by Blake Batson, also the owner of Common Grounds. He is a Baylor graduate with a degree in philosophy.

Batson, in an effort to have a greater impact and to fill the needs of the community, also became a business partner with Corey McEntyre, a businessman from Nashville.

“Blake and I would go back and forth,” McEntyre said. “We want a place that has a really good coffee program, really great food and has a cool bar.”

McEntyre said he and Batson work well together because they play off each other’s strengths. McEntyre said Batson is the business’s big-picture guy, and McEntyre is the food creative.

“I moved here with the idea of Milo,” McEntyre said. “I wanted to do something local, sustainable, seasonal and that focused on breakfast.”

McEntyre talked about how back in the day his grandfather would meet up with his friends every day, twice a day and just hang out. He said they would talk about life and joke around. He wanted to create a community place just like that.

“I want to create a place that he [my grandfather] can always come to,” McEntyre said, “There is always a big table that people can sit at, be able to talk about life and share really good food.”

McEntyre said he was raised in a family with incredible cooks who all cooked based on taste. He said his grandma and mother always had the best biscuits, which is how he came up with the idea for Milo.

“They showed me that cooking from the heart brings people together,” McEntyre said.

Batson also had his family history in mind when he started up Heritage Creamery. He said the name brought him back to childhood — days filled with joy and laughter. The smell of his father’s fresh homemade chocolate chip cookie filled the house. Family and friends gathered around the table enjoying a glass of milk and dad’s cookies.

“Everyone knew them as Mark Batson’s famous chocolate chip cookies,” Batson said.

Batson said his father always wanted to be able to open up his own store and sell his cookies. Unfortunately, he died of cancer in 2011 before he realized his dream. In honor of his father and as part of the heritage of the company, Heritage Creamery uses Batson’s father’s chocolate chip recipe for the cookies sold at Heritage.

Batson said he originally wanted to name the ice cream shop Scoop because it was something light and fun. One day, when he was driving down I-35 heading to Dallas, he saw a billboard for Texas Farm Heritage. The word “heritage” stuck out to him.

“I like that word. It’s a serious word,” Batson said. “Scoop is light and silly. And Heritage was deep, serious and weighty. The way it sounds is rich.”

Batson said the name “Heritage” really worked with what the company was trying to accomplish — focusing on the heritage of his family and Waco, as well as empowering local farmers and businesses.

According to Kelly Doolittle, the manager of Heritage’s booth at the Waco Downtown Farmers Market, a lot of what Heritage makes comes from vendors at the Waco Downtown Farmers Market. He said the ice cream shop wanted to be able to take advantage of what is locally grown and support the local economy.

“We have all this produce around us from farmers we know. We can go to their farms, check out how they do things and make sure it is legitimate and GMO,” Doolittle said. “I can walk on the Star Farms any time I want without even telling them I’m coming, and they have no problem with me being there because they have nothing to hide.”

Batson said the trend of using local ingredients to make ice cream is growing in Houston, Austin, Portland and California. He said he likes how the idea complemented Common Grounds.

“We can come up with the wildest recipes ever, but if we cannot find it locally, we will not do it,” Doolittle said.

Doolittle said he really wants to make banana ice cream but never will because bananas are not grown in Texas. However, there is a fruit in the banana family that tastes very similar and that does grow in Texas – the plantain.

“Let’s make a cherry ice cream,” Doolittle said. “Cherries don’t grow in Texas. That sucks. We can’t do a cherry ice cream, but we are staying true to who we are.”

McEntyre said one of things that he and Batson take pride in with Milo and Heritage Creamery is their attention to detail. He said they are intentional in every decision, from the ingredients they use to what they hang on the wall.

“They show an attention to detail that not a lot people take the time to do,” McEntyre said. “As a whole, we need to be called to a bigger cause, not just making money and getting people in and out of here. I want to serve people good food.”

Leander sophomore Will Stauber is an employee at Heritage Creamery. He said no matter how long people have to wait in line, they are always happy to be there for the atmosphere and the quality of the product.

Doolittle echoed that sentiment.

“You may walk into our shop and say, ‘I do not like X flavor,’ but the way we make our ice cream, you’ll love something because we put our heart and soul into it,” Doolittle said. “It is made with the most absolute, most care possible.”