June 21st, 2009
01:29 PM ET
6 years ago

Obama and daughters visit frozen custard shop

The president took his daughters out for a frozen treat on Saturday.
The president took his daughters out for a frozen treat on Saturday.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama and his two daughters enjoyed a pre-Father's Day visit to a dessert shop Saturday.

The president took 10-year-old Malia and 8-year-old Sasha to The Dairy Godmother frozen custard store in Alexandria, Virginia, a short drive across the Potomac River from Washington.

Obama wore slacks and a short-sleeve shirt, and both daughters wore t-shirts and pants for the casual outing, which drew cheers from surprised onlookers.

The president's security detail screened customers seeking to enter the shop while the Obamas were inside.

Shop owner Liz Davis told CNN her first inkling that something out of the ordinary was happening came when several men wearing suits entered her store.

"My manager and I were thinking, 'Wow, they're kinda fancy-dressed for Saturday," she said. "And then they came and said that we were going to be getting a special visitor in about five minutes and would I let them up on the roof?"

She got the key and did just that. When she returned to the store, which was doing a brisk business, at least a dozen Secret Service agents had joined the regular customers, she said.

"I told my staff to put on clean aprons and we just did our usual thing," she said. "We continued waiting on our customers until they came in."

Upon entering, Obama shook Davis' hand ("just right, not too firm and not wimpy").

Except for cutting in line ("nobody minded at all, everybody was very happy to see them"), the first family's experience was like that of any other customer, Davis said.

Sasha got a waffle cone with vanilla custard; Malia got a brownie sundae and vanilla custard and hot fudge with whipped cream, sprinkles and a cherry, she added.

Their father got a cup of vanilla custard with hot fudge and toasted almonds, she said.

But it didn't end there. After Malia decided she didn't want the whipped cream on her sundae, "the president just took a spoon and put it on his sundae, which is a scene that we see enacted multiple times every day, but it was nice to see it enacted by them in just a normal family way."

After getting their $12.40 order (they paid cash), the family sat in the store and ate, she said.

The transaction went both ways. "My gift to him was to give him as normal an experience as possible for him and his children," she said, noting that she had no qualms about letting him pay.

"I didn't ask him to pose with me, I didn't ask him for his autograph. I wanted it to be just like he was a regular customer coming here because I'm sure it must be really hard for those children to be where they are right now. He probably just wanted to get them custard and not have it be a big deal."

But she did give at least one member of the first family special treatment - three puppy pops for the first dog, Bo.

Davis, who developed her taste for frozen custard growing up in Wisconsin, said the global downturn has not affected her adversely, with her business of 18 part time and two full-time employees up about 20 percent this year over last.

"Maybe they're coming to me instead of doing something more expensive," she said.

Davis said neither the president nor his daughters said they liked the custard, but she's confident they did. "They ate it all," she said.

- CNN's Tom Watkins contributed to this story.

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