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Rekindling Memories, Farrell’s Makes Return to Area

Rekindling Memories, Farrell’s Makes Return to Area By JEFF WEISS Cbuting Reporter Nearly any Valley resident over the age of 30 remembers the Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlours that dotted the area during the 1970s and 1980s. Featuring a turn of the century ice cream parlor atmosphere with employees donning pin striped vests, old fashioned ties, and cane hats, the stores became the site of many a young child’s birthday party and other celebrations. Under the aegis of founder Bob Farrell and then the Marriott chain, it swelled to 130 locations nationwide before being sold to a San Francisco investment group. The new owners tinkered with the concept changing it from a unique celebration restaurant to a traditional family style restaurant, a move that didn’t resonate well with the public. By 1990, there was only one Farrell’s left in America. However, in December 2002, Valley-raised Mike Fleming and his brother decided to bring the concept back to the area. Having grown up going to Farrell’s every Friday night, the Flemings retained fond memories of the place and worked out an agreement with the Kirin Group (the owners of Farrell’s trademark and license) to open the first new Farrell’s in two decades. Currently located at the Mountasia Fun Center in Santa Clarita, Farrell’s has performed well in its latest incarnation. “The food and ice cream businesses have changed dramatically over the last 15 years. There was no yogurt industry, people weren’t on low-carb diets, but we feel strongly that Farrell’s can succeed in the market today. We’re still in a testing stage, the jury is still out, but we want to keep the concept as close as it was in the past, while realizing that many young people would have little recollection of how Farrell’s used to be,” Fleming said. “We have to re-educate people to what the concept is. Business has been very good, we’re having challenges like any other business. Gas prices eat into consumer spending, we’re watching our revenues go up and down with the gas prices.” Richard Close of Sherman Oaks has fond memories of the ice cream parlors that were the site of many of his children’s birthday parties. “Farrell’s was truly a family ice cream shop, not like the places you have today where you run in, have an ice cream cone, and leave. It was a family birthday party thing for kids, with a lot of excitement and musical instruments. It was truly an institution in the San Fernando Valley,” Close said. Larry Mankin, president and CEO of the Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce, says he believes the new Farrell’s will do well. “Just from my eyeball tour they seem to generate significant traffic and I think that because of its brand and its location, it should do well in this community,” Mankin said.

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