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Farrells Ice Cream

Farrell's Ice Cream Parlour: A Nostalgic Delight on National Ice Cream Day

The Birth of Farrell's Ice Cream Parlour

Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlour, with its iconic red-flocked wallpaper and player piano, has been a beloved destination for families, kids, and ice cream enthusiasts since its opening on September 13, 1963. Same year Miles Fiberglass started! Founder Bob Farrell and Ken McCarthy created a unique concept that combined delicious ice cream treats, a playful atmosphere, and old-fashioned charm. As we celebrate National Ice Cream Day, let’s delve into the fascinating story of Farrell’s and its notable achievements, including their record-breaking creation of the World’s Largest Sundae. Don’t forget, Miles Fiberglass had a small role in that which you learn more in this article. 

In 1963, Bob Farrell and Ken McCarthy opened the first Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlour at 21st and W. Burnside in Portland, Oregon. With only 32 employees, $1,300 in the bank, and $26,000 in debt, they embarked on an adventure that would captivate the hearts and taste buds of countless customers. The parlour’s concept was simple yet ingenious: provide a wholesome, fun environment where families, couples, school groups, and kids could celebrate their successes while enjoying delicious ice cream treats.

A Wholesome and Fun Experience

Farrell’s took inspiration from the old New York City parlours, blending it with Bob Farrell’s memories of delicatessens and corner candy stores from his upbringing in New York. The result was an enchanting setting with Tiffany lamps, cherub fixtures on the walls, and a candy store to complete the nostalgic effect. The menu, printed in a tabloid-style newspaper, offered a range of tasty burgers, sandwiches, and creative ice cream concoctions.

Farrells Ice Cream - Miles Fiberglass Bowl

Dumping pounds of melted chocolate over the ice cream into a
Miles Fiberglass bowl
Sundae weight = (1,551 pounds (704 kg))

Miles Fiberglass and the World's Largest Sundae

One of the notable achievements associated with Farrell’s was the creation of the World’s Largest Sundae. Miles Fiberglass, a company renowned for its custom craftsmanship, played a small but significant role in constructing the massive bowl that held the sundae. The bowl measured 6′ across and 4′ high. The Guinness Book of Records recognized Farrell’s achievement, further cementing their place in ice cream history. Farrell made an appearance on TV’s “The Merv Griffin Show,” and in 1976, he received the Horatio Alger Award from Norman Vincent Peale.

Farrells Restaurant

The Legendary "Zoo" Sundae

One of Farrell’s most extravagant creations was the “Zoo” sundae, an enormous 50-scoop sundae that arrived at the table with great fanfare. Multiple employees would carry the gargantuan bowl around the restaurant on a stretcher, accompanied by the lively sound of ambulance sirens. This whimsical presentation added to the excitement and joy of Farrell’s patrons.

Expansion and Success

By 1970, Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlour had become a sensation, and the enclosed shopping centers that were booming at the time provided the perfect opportunity for further growth. Farrell’s embraced this trend, opening 55 shops across the West. The chain’s success continued, and its reputation for exceptional customer service and delightful experiences remained strong.

Remembering Bob Farrell

Robert “Bob” Farrell, the co-founder of Farrell’s, passed away on August 14, 2015, at the age of 87. He left behind a legacy of creating a customer-centric culture and putting a smile on people’s faces. After the sale of Farrell’s to the Marriott Corporation in 1973, Bob remained the company’s spokesperson until shortly before its sale to an investment group in 1985. Even after leaving the restaurant business, Bob continued to inspire others through customer service consulting and speaking engagements.

Indelible Mark

Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlour has left an indelible mark on the hearts and taste buds of ice cream lovers for decades. From its humble beginnings to its record-breaking feats, Farrell’s Ice Cream evoke nostalgia and joy. The final location closed on June 8, 2019. As we celebrate National Ice Cream Day, let’s raise a scoop of our favorite flavor to honor the legacy of Farrell’s and the delightful experiences it has provided to generations of ice cream enthusiasts.

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Video courtesy of Portlandism & Farrell’s Memories
Any copyrighted photographs and artwork are used in the context of this website strictly for educational, research and historical purposes only, under the “Fair Use” provisions of the Copyright Act (US CODE: Title 17,107. Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair Use Section 107).

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