Frosty free at last

Former Frosty Freez owners hang up aprons for retirement; 4B’s ushers in new era
Chris Aiken, Pioneer Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 6, 2018

CUTLINE: Susie Phares pours one of her last cups of coffee as a Frosty Freez waitress. Phares worked with owners Kitty Buster and Jay Deen Federer for more than 30 years (CHRIS AIKEN / Big Timber Pioneer).


Thursday felt like any other day at Frosty Freez. Beef patties sizzled on the flat top grill; white-aproned waitresses glided between booths bearing coffee pots and lunch menus. A husband and wife shared an ice cream sundae after lunches of hamburgers and French fries. 

Meanwhile, nearing her hour of retirement, Susie Phares tended to the later afternoon crowd with smiling precision. Phares, who has worked at the Freez for 31 years, had told owners Kitty Buster and Jay Deen Federer that she would retire when they did. After marketing the Frosty Freez for years, the sisters reached an agreement with the 4B’s Restaurant company on May 24. The time for retirement had come.

A week later, on May 31, Buster and Federer made a few last minute improvements (e.g. changing lightbulbs in the kitchen) before relinquishing the keys to interim manager Rene Peppelaar. 

“It was definitely bittersweet,” Buster said. “We’ve already shed a few tears, but we’ve been trying to sell for years, so we’re really happy to be done.” 

Indeed, there was apparently no disguising her happiness. Shortly after the restaurant sold to 4B’s, a friend stopped Buster in the grocery store and told her she had never seen such joy in Kitty’s face. 

“You are always so upbeat,” the woman told her. “But I’ve never seen such joy.” 

Kitty and Jay Deen, who were born across the street from Frosty Freez, bought the restaurant from Arnold and Lucille Mosness, for whom Jay Deen had worked for several years, in 1984. At the time the sisters were also considering buying a restaurant in Lewistown.

“Why don’t you just buy this place?” Arnold asked them.

And so they did. 

Thirty-four years and innumerable milkshakes later, the sisters called it quits and absconded into a retirement of Florida beaches, golfing, trailer camping and river rafting. By Thursday afternoon they had already absconded from the Freez — leaving Phares to tend to the regular clique of afternoon coffee drinkers. For these caffeinated gentleman, the change in ownership (or was it the prodding of a news reporter?) provided sufficient cause for reminiscence. 

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