MURRAY — One of the top ice cream franchises in the country is about to join forces with one of the highest-profile smoothie creators in Murray.

A new Cold Stone Creamery/Planet Smoothie location is only a few weeks away from its opening date inside the Olive Plaza shopping center at the intersection of North 12th Street and Olive Boulevard. Cold Stone gets its name from offering ice cream creations that are prepared on frozen granite slabs. 

Both Cold Stone and Planet Smoothie have more than 1,000 franchises throughout the United States and are aligning with each other as a way to promote one another’s brands to a wider audience. 

Bunnarath Mao will be the manager of the new establishment that will fill the third and final spot available at the Olive Plaza, which his family owns. 

“It’s just been part of a long plan. It’s started a lot of years ago. We just weren’t ready. It’s one of those things that takes time,” Mao said of the Cold Stone/Planet Smoothie combo that will now join the original tenant at the Plaza — Murray Donuts — and Cricket. 

“We did a lot of eating, not just research. That’s how we knew, ‘OK, they have good ice cream.’ However, this is not just a matter of an entrepreneur wanting to make it happen. You’ve got to go through a long process. They send a franchise developer to come and check the location.

“Again, though, this was not a one-person venture. This was a team effort. A lot of people helped make this happen.”

Mao said he and others investigated establishments in Paducah, two in Clarksville, Tennessee, two in Evansville, Indiana and one in Owensboro in gathering information on the Cold Stone franchise. 

“The way they make the ice cream is by making it fresh every day and they train their employees and whoever the manager is on this technique. They all need to know this,” he said. “I’ll be the manager and they are wanting (the brass of the franchise) to be involved with the daily operations. I have restaurant experience, so that was something else they were looking at.”

Mao said he believes the new Cold Stone/Planet Smoothie establishment will provide job opportunities, particularly for high school and Murray State University students. He said applications are being taken online at More information is available by phoning  Mao at 270-226-4943. 

The Cold Stone/Planet Smoothie location was expected to open sometime around July 15, but Mao said delays with receiving construction equipment will probably push the opening date back to the early part of August. 

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