Rounding the corner at 8th and Ocean, on a weekend night – you’ll see lights illuminating the carousel horses in the side window at the Hobby Horse Ice Cream Parlor. Usually, these horses are resting until April.
Hobby Horse Ice Cream Parlor stayed open this year. Traditionally closing on Columbus Day, they are open weekends this year, weather permitting. The parlor is an OC icon that began decades ago with a simple dream.
“My mother always wanted an ice cream parlor. She was walking with her mother and that building, the corner, she looked at it and said it would be a good ice cream parlor. It was a mortgage place at the time. She talked to the people who owned it and then she worked something out,” said owner Michael Dukeman.
Sadly, Michael’s mom, Jerri, passed in July. Keeping the ice cream parlor open in the off season for the first time ever this winter has helped bring comfort.
“There were people here. I noticed a high enrollment in high school. The weather was holding out. Every other business kind of closed after the holidays,” said Michael. “It’s good. I’m getting a lot of different customers. I’m hoping I’m building more of a reputation and customer base. I want to stay busy with my mom’s passing.”
Hobby Horse first opened in 1994 with their original space being just the seating area.
Not only did the procedures change this past year (customers call in their orders and have them handed to them out the back window), the most popular orders also changed.
“Sundae wise, the Peanut Butter Bliss, the Oreo delight, and the brownie sundae are our most popular,” said Michael.
“Our waffles are very popular too,” chimed in Cierra, Michael’s wife.
“Things were different this year. People ordered differently. They were ordering bigger sundaes than usual, not seeing what the person in front of them was ordering,” Michael said. “Pistachio was the least selling flavor for 25 years. This year, I couldn’t keep it in.”
Sprinkle in some more changes
Another change? The popularity of mint chocolate chip. This year, it was bigger than chocolate.
“Ours has very thin shavings of chocolate. They’d ask if it was green or white,” said Cierra.
Green is the answer for all the mint choc chip enthusiasts out there.
“Everything my mom did was to make a little kid smile or laugh. That was her main goal,” Michael said. “Yes, she wanted to sell them ice cream but she wanted to make the kids happy.”
Image courtesy of Hobby Horse