With images of downtown Muncie in 1915 hanging on the walls, customers have the opportunity to step into a miniature Muncie museum at The Barking Cow of Muncie.
Owned and operated by Ball State alumnus Scott Mick and his wife, Cindy, The Barking Cow of Muncie is the sister shop to The Barking Cow in Gaston, Indiana.
“When I was going to Ball State, I never would have guessed I would have stayed here,” Scott Mick said. “I was talking to friends that went to school with me, and none of them stayed. They ask me what it’s like now. I don’t regret not going somewhere else at all.”
After graduating from Ball State in 1992 with a degree in manufacturing engineering and technology, Mick decided to stay in Muncie as an engineer.
“I never really intended to get into the restaurant business — I was looking for a tenant,” Mick said. “Surprisingly, it’s kind of difficult down here to get long-term tenants. So [my wife and I] thought, ‘Well, let’s create our own tenant.’ We did some polling of people we knew and thought, ‘What does Muncie downtown not have?’”
Mick soon discovered that downtown Muncie was missing an ice cream parlor, so he reached out to his friend Cary Malchow, the owner of The Barking Cow.
Malchow agreed to come to Muncie to help Mick turn his empty building into Muncie’s own Barking Cow.
“At the time, [Cary] wasn’t interested in doing something like that, but a few days later he came to me,” Mick said. “He looked at the space and said, ‘This might work for something like [The Barking Cow] down here. I don’t want to do it myself, but I’ll help you do it.’ So, that’s how we got involved in this space.”
Danielle Woodson, an employee at The Barking Cow, came with Malchow to help Mick and is now the manager of the Muncie location.
“[Woodson] knows the menu,” Mick said. “She helped create some of the items, so she knows that menu probably better than anyone. She's been a great asset here [at The Barking Cow of Muncie.] We couldn’t have done this without her.”
Woodson is also credited with suggesting the idea for the nickname of the Muncie ice cream shop.
“Up in Gaston, the locals don’t really call it ‘The Barking Cow’ — they call it ‘The Cow,’” Mick said. “So Danielle ... said, ‘Why don’t we just call this one ‘The Cow Downtown?’’ We’re different — it’s a different setting, and we want to connect with downtown [Muncie.]”
Along with Mick and Woodson, many Ball State students are also employed at The Barking Cow of Muncie, including Kyla Horst, a junior family and consumer sciences education major.
“I had visited [The Barking Cow] in Gaston before, and I was looking for a job to do while in school,” Horst said. “I thought [The Barking Cow of Muncie] was a great opportunity.”
With 32 flavors of ice cream to scoop, Horst said she thinks the Delaware County Pothole, an ice cream flavor that has a chocolate base, chocolate swirls and chocolate pieces, is one of the most popular.
In addition to ice cream, which Mick gets from Malchow who makes it in-house, The Barking Cow of Muncie also offers a lunch menu for its customers.
“That’s really the reason we did it because it had both,” Mick said. “It offered another lunch option for downtown [Muncie] as well as the icing on the cake with the ice cream.
“I know another issue [downtown] is we have really good establishments, but they are just a little pricey. [The Barking Cow of Muncie] fits right in the middle of that. That’s really what we have to offer — something right in the middle [and] something different.”
Mick said the process of opening The Barking Cow of Muncie has been long, and the restaurant has faced many challenges along the way, including keeping food supplies replenished. During its opening week, the shop served 12 tubs of ice cream and ran out of baked potatoes to serve customers.
“We had more people than we ever thought we would,” Mick said. “I was in here running the cash register, and other members of my family were helping me out. It was really exciting. I think with the addition of this downtown, it’s really exciting, but we have to figure out how to manage the whole thing right now.”