Tuesday, August 09, 2011

BUSINESS: Farrell's Ice Cream Parlour plans Inland Comeback! (Monday, Aug. 08, 2011) The Press-Enterprise

BUSINESS: Farrell's Ice Cream Parlour plans Inland comeback

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08:40 PM PDT on Monday, August 8, 2011

The Press-Enterprise

Farrell's Ice Cream Parlour, the once-beloved restaurant chain whose name can provoke fits of nostalgia among Southern Californians of a certain age, is staging its Inland Empire comeback with a new location in Rancho Cucamonga.

The restaurant is scheduled to open this fall in a 7,400-square-foot space formerly occupied by Macaroni Grill in the Terra Vista Town Center. It will be the third California location for Parlour Enterprises, the Laguna Niguel-based company that is resurrecting the Farrell's brand.

Farrell's, known for its over-the-top ice-cream concoctions, old-time decor and raucous atmosphere, started in 1963 in Portland, Ore., and grew to about 130 locations by the 1980s, when a California investment group bought the chain and altered the concept. The popularity dwindled, and the chain eventually fell into bankruptcy.

Submitted to The Press-Enterprise
The first Inland Farrell's Ice Cream Parlour, depicted here in an artist's rendering, is scheduled to open this fall in Rancho Cucamonga.

Parlour Enterprises launched an effort to rebuild it in 2001 with a new restaurant in Santa Clarita and plans for more, but a long legal battle over trademark rights put additional locations on hold.

The company moved forward again in 2009, opening a Mission Viejo location, and is working now on another new site in Brea. Paul Kramer, president of Parlour Enterprises, said three more restaurants are scheduled to open by the end of 2012, and the company intends to begin franchising the chain outside California by the end of this year. There are also two Farrell's in Hawaii, operated by a separate company under an agreement with Parlour.

With the new restaurants, Kramer said the company is sticking close to Farrell's old business model.

That means diners will see the same eye-popping ice cream dishes, such as the giant Pig's Trough, and the Zoo, an enormity of ice cream carted out by employees to the sound of sirens and horns. Employees will don pinstriped vests and cane hats, and restaurants will still feature an in-store candy shop.

But new-generation stores also will offer new items, such as gourmet pizzas, sliders, tri-tip and fresh-baked focaccia. "It's all about what Farrell's was, but updated for today's market," Kramer said.

George Whalin, president of Carlsbad-based Retail Management Consultants, said he thinks Farrell's is a viable idea, even in today's business climate. "Kids and families always want some sort of fun experience," he said. "And those places were a great experience. I don't know that that ever goes out of style."

Mike Nelson, economic development manager for Rancho Cucamonga, said the space has been vacant for almost two years.

Nelson said Farrell's will help drive traffic to the center, drawing in old fans along with new visitors.

Ghia Verduzco, manager of Young n Posh, a children's clothing store in the shopping center, said she's excited to hear Farrell's is coming in.

"I think it would be a great fit," she said. "Heck, it's always nice to have something new come in, especially an old business coming back."

Verduzco, 37, grew up in West Covina and has her own memories of Farrell's. "I just remember eating this big ice cream, trying to finish it," she said. "I remember my friend had a birthday party there. I didn't go, but I remember it was the talk of the playground when I got back."

Kramer said the company plans to hire about 140 people for the restaurant and is posting job and other information for the Rancho Cucamonga site online atwww.farrellsusa.com/rancho.

Reach Tiffany Ray at 951-368-9559 or tray@PE.com.

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