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A sweet, cold treat migrates to Largo from Wisconsin

Jim and Teri Shackton knew they made the right decision to buy Wisconsin's famous LeDuc's frozen custard and sandwich stand when they had customers standing outside the order window in 10-below-zero weather.

This spring the couple decided it was time to bring frozen custard to sunny Florida. Their nephew, Tim Shackton, a Clearwater native who has been in the food industry for a decade, joined them in the venture.

Two weeks ago, they opened Shackton's restaurant featuring frozen custard made fresh daily in more than 70 different flavors, burgers made with certified Black Angus beef, Wisconsin bratwurst, sandwiches, hot hand-wrapped mozzarella sticks, chili and soups, salads and assorted frozen custard sundaes, cones, pies and pastries.

Prices range from $2.25 for a sloppy Joe to $5.40 for a double bacon cheeseburger. A Philly steak sandwich is $4.25 and chicken tenders are $3.25. An Ahi tuna dinner salad is $10 and a side salad is $1.25. Usinger bratwurst is $2.50 and a chili dog is $2.35. Frozen custard prices range from 85 cents for a kiddie cone to $4.45 for a turtle flavor super sundae.

A retired Palm Harbor couple have made it their favorite place to eat.

"Their burgers are phenomenal," said Bruce MacKinnon of Palm Harbor. "They're just the best burgers I've ever eaten _ they're juicy and they're big. I like the double bacon cheeseburger. It's enough for two people really. The cheese sticks are out of this world, too."

MacKinnon was alone the first time he stopped by Shackton's. The next time, he was with his wife, Rita, and they've been back three more times.

"I told my son about it who lives in Largo and he brought his wife, two kids and his mother-in-law," MacKinnon said. "My grandson said the chicken tenders are better than McDonald's. He's 8 years old and he's our chicken connoisseur. It's all he ever eats."

Robert and Pam Waters of Belleair Bluffs have been waiting for a frozen custard stand to open here ever since they moved here 30 years ago from their native Milwaukee.

"The only thing I've had there is their vanilla frozen custard," said Mrs. Waters. "It was so good _ real smooth and so much richer than regular ice cream _ that I couldn't try anything else. But I really want to try the bratwurst _ that's so Milwaukee."

Clearwater native Hugh Kearney and his wife Melanie, who live in Seminole, have been to the restaurant seven times since it opened.

Kearney had never tasted frozen custard before.

"It's the best ice cream I've ever had," he said. They bought several pints to take home. "Melanie's favorite is the black raspberry custard."

The first time the Shacktons mentioned their idea to open a frozen custard business and restaurant here was in May at a family wedding. At the time Tim Shackton had been in management with the Hops restaurant chain for 10 years.

He wasn't convinced he wanted to be part of it until he flew up to Wales, Wis., in August to see how LeDuc's operated. After a week, he returned to Clearwater, quit his job and began searching for a location for the new business. His mom and dad, Cathy and Bob Shackton, found a 3,000-square-foot stand-alone building along East Bay Drive in Largo.

"We flew down in September and signed the lease," said Jim Shackton. "Construction started the first week in December and we opened Jan. 12."

The Shacktons brought several of their employees from Wisconsin to help train the Largo restaurant's 20 employees. The 3,000-square-foot restaurant can seat 85 and has a drive-through window. It took an investment of $265,000 to open the doors, said Jim Shackton.

Teri Shackton said the couple are using their recipes from the Wisconsin business for the frozen custard, barbecue and dill sauces, chili and cole slaw.

"Everything is made to order," she said. And there are no artificial ingredients in the frozen custard, she said.

Nearby DeFazio's Bakery provides all the breads and pastries for the business. "His product is excellent," said Tim Shackton. "He's the best Italian baker in town."

Tim Shackton will manage the new business and Jim and Teri Shackton will travel back forth between here and their Wisconsin business. Eventually, they plan to sell LeDuc's and settle here.

Shackton's

4465 East Bay Drive, Largo

+ Frozen custard, burgers, soups, salads, sandwiches, frozen custard desserts, open seven days a week

+ 20 employees

+ "I'd never tasted frozen custard before. It's the best ice cream I've ever had."

Clearwater native Hugh Kearney.

+ "They have the best burgers I've ever eaten."

Bruce MacKinnon of Palm Harbor.

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