Polar Bear Ice Cream….Making a Comeback One Scoop at a Time!
It's coming out of hibernation!
For many, the name Polar Bear Ice Cream takes us back in time, for some a year, for others decades, to one of Oneonta's most legendary ice cream shops. The Polar Bear name has been missing from the local landscape for a bit over a year now...but IT IS COMING BACK!
The new Polar Bear is located on NYS Rt. 28 just 8 miles from Southside Drive (go over Franklin Mountain, veer left on Rt. 28 and watch for it on the right).
I stopped over for a preview last week. It was fantastic.
"Yes, we have lived here all our lives and nothing makes us happier or prouder than to bring back the beloved Polar Bear name for ice cream lovers," Michael Ross told me. He is the new owner, along with his wife, Heather, and children, Jessica and Matthew. "We bought the whole thing lock, stock and ice cream equipment when they closed. We even bought the old signs which everybody is familiar with. We will be opening real soon, definitely this spring, and we are very excited."
The building is brand new, constructed from the ground up. The dining room is comfortable and bright with surrounding windows displaying the beautiful pond, grounds and Catskill Mountains in the distance.
The ambiance definitely has a nostalgic feel to it with ceiling fans, old-fashioned lights, cafe tables and parlor chairs and a rustic Amish-built wooden design. "Our Amish friends came and built this whole new building for us in just 8 days. They did an amazing job," Ross said.
Those familiar to the old Polar Bear will be heartened to see so many famous icons from the "good old days."
"Yes, we bought everything from them. We have the 1954 "soda jerk" machine, the old Rich's Root Beer barrel, the original fudge counter and everything. One of the last things we brought over are the original hand drawn chalkboard menu signs. We took them down at the old Pie in the Sky location brought them over here and just hung them up. Nothing has changed."
They even have a 1947 original Carvel ice cream Custard King machine. "Tom Carvel only made 71 of these machines. There can't be many of them left, but we have one and it works great," Jessica told me. She is a 2014 graduate of SUNY Delhi's culinary arts program and will be the parlor's manager. While I was visiting, son Matthew popped out from the back. He is a 2017 graduate of SUNY Delhi's electrical and HVAC program. He has installed all of the new heating, refrigeration and air-conditioning units.
"I grew up in Oneonta and I love this area," Michael told me. "My grandfather, John Ross, worked at the D&H roundhouse for 50 years. I remember all the old family places like Ritchko's Market, My Friendly Grocer, Molinari's and so many others. We are delighted that we can keep a name so beloved as Polar Bear around for future generations to enjoy."
The Polar Bear will have a "short menu" of burgers, hot dogs, fries and such. "But, let's face it," Michael said. "Here it will all be about the ice cream."
For those looking for a little nostalgia and some fantastic ice cream, stop by the Polar Bear when it opens. It is a real "snow globe" of memories from the past. Notice they even have the original 1949 opening-day handwritten ice cream recipe book on display. "It is the real thing," Jessica said as we gazed at it. "And, yes, we still use those recipes!"
On the way out the door the family gave me a little present. Yup....all the original flavors are here. What can I say, these four pints didn't last long in my house!
I give the new Polar Bear Ice Cream Parlor "4 Meatballs," which everybody knows is my highest rating!
Visit them on Facebook for a grand opening announcement at https://www.facebook.com/Polar-Bear-Homemade-Ice-Cream-More-538187663021144/