Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlour, 10742 Foothill Blvd. (at Aspen), Rancho Cucamonga
Farrell’s means a lot to many longtime Inland Valley residents who marked birthdays and other occasions at the Montclair Plaza ice cream parlor, which operated through the 1970s and into the mid-1980s before folding like other locations after a disastrous buyout. Now the chain is back, with SoCal restaurants in Rancho Cucamonga, Brea, Mission Viejo and Santa Clarita, with more in the works. Here’s its website.
Me, I was a Farrell’s newbie when I showed up for lunch recently with two Farrell’s fans, my friends Dave and Rose Linck of Rancho Cucamonga. They grew up on the place and had already been to the Rancho location twice, once for Rose’s birthday. (She wasn’t asked to stand on a chair.)
In fact, Rose wrote several letters in recent years to Farrell’s suggesting they take over the closed Romano’s Macaroni Grill, advice that Farrell’s took. They should give her free ice cream for life or something.
The restaurant has been completely made over. After a short wait even at 1 p.m. for a table, we were seated. We were among the few adults not accompanied by children. It’s a festive atmosphere, the Chuck E Cheese of ice cream. Every few minutes a siren would blare and employees, dressed in straw boaters and vests, would gather around a table and sing happy birthday while the child stood on a chair. They’ve revived all the old traditions, including the Zoo and the Pig Trough ice cream platters.
I got a half BLT with chicken noodle soup and fries ($7.79), Rose had chicken strips known as Cock-a-Doodle Dippers ($8) and Dave had the Gastronomicaldelicatessenepicurean’s Delight (whew!), a cold cut combo with fries ($10.59).
Surprisingly, this was all pretty good. My BLT, for example, used a better grade of bacon that you’ll find almost anywhere else and the soup tasted fresh. The others were impressed by their meals too.
For dessert, we each got hot fudge or hot butterscotch sundaes, the single-scoop versions available if you get a meal ($3.29), and it was delicious, as you’d hope. Including the $2.79 vanilla Coke I got from the soda fountain, my tab was $17, a couple of bucks more than I’d have preferred, but fine given the quality of the food and the attentiveness of the service.
Would I go back, though? Maybe, but it’s hard to imagine when I would. (Other than if any friends choose Farrell’s for their own birthday, which one is threatening to do.) I don’t think I would go even for my own birthday (when you get a free sundae), although I reserve the right to change my mind.
It’s evidently a good facsimile of the old Farrell’s, a parent would probably not be disappointed by the food and a kid would probably love it. But unless you’re a retired fireman who misses the sound of a siren going off every few minutes, or deaf, this is not a place many adults could endure. Nostalgists, of course, will want to try it, and should.