03 December 2007

Here's the Scoop: No Scoops


This will probably mean nothing to Manhattan-centric readers, but: Jahn's Ice Cream Parlor has closed its doors for good.

A landmark is a landmark, and this one was in Richmond Hill, Queens, and had been since 1923, when Coolidge reigned, speakeasies were everywhere and life was good. The Richmond Hills location was one of two left (the other is in Jackson Heights) of a small local chain that was founded in 1897 (when McKinley reigned, Lobster Newberg was everywhere and life was good) in the Bronx, at 138th Street and Alexander Avenue, by John Jahn. How's that for a name? John had three kids, and when they grew up he let them each open a branch. Elsie opened one in Jamaica, Howard's was in Flushing and Frank went to Richard Hills. Eventually, there was Jahn's in Bayside, Ridgewood, Sheepshead Bay, even Long Island and Jersey, and, I am told, Florida.

The chain was known for—what else?—its ice cream. The stuff came in 17 flavors. Eat them all at once and it's called "The Kitchen Sink." The place was meant to evoke the 1890s, so many of the old fixtures date from that time, including a wooden bar topped by green marble, much stained glass, vintage sconces, a marble and brass syrup dispenser, and a Seeberg nickelodeon.

According to the Queens Chronicle, Alla Mikit, the former owner, sold the property, along with the two apartments above it. According to Nancy Cataldi, president of the Richmond Hill Historical Society, "the light fixtures and many other valuable Jahn’s antiques were sold to a bidder in the Midwest. The sweet shop’s stained glass windows were also sold." Nice going, Alla. Maybe you could use the money you made from the sale to buy Queens some new 80-year-old culture.

The Jackson Heights branch still exists. I've been to it. The sign is nice, but the interior is fairly charmless. Looks like a typical Greek diner. I understand the menu is fairly identical. (Thanks to Ed's Mobile Blog for the pictures.)

9 comments:

Barbara said...

For years, I thought that the Jahn's in Marine Park--which everyone went to after any school occasion or local football game--was the only one!

Zach said...

Oh, damn! I was there a few weeks ago but didn't have a clue. RIP... that place *was* Richmond Hill for me.

becky said...

dear half brains, before writing a blog as such, do your research. the building was never sold. ever heard of leasing? also, yes it is indeed sad that Jahns is no more...but remember, the WAS NO SUPPORT by the community! where were the customers? where were all the politicians and historical rejects who are flapping their tongues now after the fact???give me a break and blame yourselves for the loss of such an establishment.

Brooks of Sheffield said...

Becky: Half brains here, informing your brains (not sure how much you have--a quarter?) that I was citing a report in the Queens Chronicle, so if you've got a gripe about the facts, talk to them. Do your research, Becky! Also, the fact that a landmark is sold out these days does not per se mean there was no support from the community. Rather, it usually means there's a greedy landlord who thinks he can rent out to a bank and charge thrice the rent. Third, I personally DO support these places. I patronize them at every chance. Therefore, I do not and will not blame myself for their loss. And I WILL blame the politicians, who are in a position to do something about it. And, now, I will also blame you, since comments from yahoos like yourself don't help matters. Now off to the brain surgeon with you!

Carol Gardens said...

The Jahn's on Long Island was in Rockville Centre, where I grew up. They used to give you a free sundae on your birthday. One year I went twice in one day and they gave me two! The Kitchen Sink was fun but gross: 32 scoops of ice cream and you would share it with your friends, all eating out of the same giant bowl, until all that was left at the bottom was some warm ice cream soup!

kensgirl said...

wow for yrs i went to Jahn's as a teen. alot of memories in that wonderful place. I had my name all over those walls, to many memories that were thrown away. why wouldnt they let the people in Richmond hill bid on a little of the memories. i loved the mysterious things it brought. like the talk of the lady who played the piano at night.(only what i was told LOL). my teen yrs were all about that and the icecream was made more yummy with friends . sorry to see it go and shame on the owner in taking away the last of the good old times.

Anonymous said...

I grew up in Long Beach and there was one on Park Avenue,not far from the only movie theater at that time the "Laurel" theater. LOn Beach also had penny arcades, a fortune teller, skee ball and a small amusementpark all located along the boardwalk. with a view of the Atlantic Ocean.

e said...

there was a jahns in bensonhurst at the corner of 21st ave & 86th st where the gap is today. free birthday sundaes, shooting toothpicks at the ceiling. ah, those were the days, my friend.

StuBot said...

What a shame. I too was privileged to have my free sundae on my birthday many times as a lad growing up in Bensonhurst- Jahn's Ice cream parlor was a cherished memory for me, and it's sad to see that they are all now closed. Back in the day, I thought that the one in Bensonhurst Brooklyn was the only one; my heart lifted when I saw there was one in queens, then crashed to the ground upon hearing that too is now closed as of 2007. I do think it's true, that much of lost NYC could have been saved, and many businesses like this one and for a more publicized one- CBGB's music venue on Bowery was certainly a good example- the public DID outcry and fell on deaf ears. The mayor COULD have stepped up, but I don't see Bloomberg as the nostalgic type, nor the biggest rock fan. THe rent was the big issue- always in a search to make more money- NYC eats its culture.