Thanks to co-owner Paul Kramer, guests can once again get a double-dip of both ice cream and nostalgia at a Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlour Restaurant.
Originally founded in 1963 by Bob Farrell in Portland, Farrell’s was famous for servers dressed in turn-of-the-last-century vintage outfits, who delivered outlandish entertainment along with super-sized ice cream dessert specialties.
After opening more than 130 restaurants, Farrell sold the franchise to Marriott in the mid-80s, which then sold it to an investment group that was unable to maintain its original success. By the late 80s, it ceased to exist. Then, after some lengthy, legal wrangling in 2008, Kramer and his business partner, Mike Fleming, secured rights to the name and resurrected it at locations in Brea, Rancho Cucamonga, Santa Clarita and Mission Viejo. There are also two more Southern California stores and an expansion into Nevada and Oregon on the horizon.
“We did some research, and discovered Farrell’s was a rare brand that many, many people had fond memories of from when they were a child,” Kramer said. “So we decided to build on that reputation and recreate it for the next generation.”
In its reincarnation, Farrell’s has added fountain fantasies with lactose-free and no-sugar-added ice cream alternatives, along with wood-fired pizza and artisan macaroni and cheese. The menu still has favorites such as hot dogs, hamburgers and cold sandwiches, and the atmosphere is the same.
“A lot of guests have videotaped the Farrell’s experience, which we call ‘happy-itis,’ and posted it on YouTube. Like when they’re serving The Zoo, which contains 30 scoops of ice cream and two people come running through the dining room with it to the sound of a bass drum and sirens going off,” Kramer said. “It’s things like that that make sure [you] just can’t help but smile when you walk into one of our restaurants.”
Kramer began working when he was 16 at a Pizza Hut in Ontario managed by his brother. By 18, he owned a Pizza Hut, which, as he recalls, made him their youngest general manager. From there, he worked at Bullwinkle’s in Upland where he rapidly rose from supervisor to general manager to president.
Along the way, he attended classes where he credits Professor Tom Costello as one of his biggest inspirations. “He was one of those guys, who motivated you and was exciting to have as a teacher.”
Costello, who taught from 1987 to 1990, referred Kramer for his next job at Restaurants Unlimited in Los Angeles. “The great thing about going to school and working was that I was able to go to class, learn the principles of restaurant management and then apply them,” Kramer said. “If I had any questions, I could then go to back to class and ask about what worked and what didn’t.”
Kramer plans to return to The Collins College for his master’s degree in hospitality management. “I’ve already contacted the college,” he said, “and picked up some prerequisites I need to get started. I got a lot from Cal Poly and made good friends there whom I still keep in touch with. It was an enjoyable experience and I learned a lot.
Previous honorees are:
Hae Park '78
Margaret Bailey '86
Jill Bosich '93
Ian Blackburn '91
Art Barajas '92
- 2012 - Bill Doak '82
- 2011 - Michele Gendreau '83
- 2010 - Margaret Bailey '86
- 2009 - Jill Bosich '93
- 2008 - Ian Blackburn '91
- 2007 - Ryan Dudley '01
- 2006 - Art Barajas '92
- 2005 - Hae Park '78
- 2004 - Bridget A. Bilinski '79
- 2003 - Bruce J. Gorelick '78
- 2002 - Mark Augarten '91
- 2001 - Eva Wassermann '86
- 1999 - Paul Tchen '90
- 1998 - Anthony Falls, Sr. '76.
- 1997 - Steven G. Skoien '84
- 1996 - Jeremy M. Eskenazi '86
- 1991 - Micarl T. Hill '85
- 1990 - Mark Peel '78
- 1989 - Sam D. Manolakas '76