Stepping through the doors of St. Simons Island, Georgia’s newest restaurant will be like stepping through a time machine, landing hungry regulars back in the sundae-filled summer afternoons of their childhoods. At least that’s what Griffin Bufkin, the owner of nearby Southern Soul Barbeque, is going for with his new Frosty’s Griddle & Shake, which he and partner Harrison Sapp are bringing to the St. Simons village in June.
“Frosty’s is a take on old South Georgia small-town fast food joints,” Bufkin says. “Back in the fifties, in places like Waycross, Jesup, Valdosta, Tifton, Americus, Sandersville—they were all trying to get Dairy Queens to franchise, but they couldn’t.” After DQ turned down Hudson “Hut” Avant of Sandersville twice, for instance, he decided to open his own version; the Dairy Lane is still a Sandersville staple. “That’s our inspiration,” Bufkin says. “Throughout the South, people would literally piece together part of these franchise’s names: Dairy Freeze, Tasty Queens, Dairy Lane. These little towns had mom and pop places that were better than Dairy Queen because things were fresh and local.”
Bufkin and Sapp are pulling in a handful of locals to help: Chef John Helfrich, formerly of the Sea Island Lodge, runs the kitchen, and hometown professional golfer Davis Love III is a major investor. The name is even a nod to the late Forrest “Frosty” Barefoot, a St. Simons icon and Southern Soul’s former landlord. “Frosty’s is all about community,” Bufkin says.
Fittingly, Frosty’s is located in a former Dairy Queen on Mallery Street; before that, the location held a Tastee Freez. The fast-casual restaurant will serve Frosty Burgers and Frosty Deluxes—that’s $5 smashed cheeseburgers—chili dogs, pickle-brined fried and grilled chicken sandwiches, onion rings, crinkle fries, wild Georgia shrimp baskets, Southern Soul barbecue sandwiches, and plenty of soft-serve ice cream, floats, milkshakes, and sundaes. “All the soft-serve is made in-house with milk from Sparkmans Cream Valley dairy farm in Moultrie,” Bufkin says. “We also have a take on a DQ Blizzard, but we call ours the Hurricane, because we’re down here in hurricane country.”
The doors will officially open on June 15, but until then, you can catch the Southern Soul food truck—now officially serving Frosty’s food—parked in the lot of the new restaurant’s location, with frozen treats being doled out of the walk-up window while the punch list is finished.