This family-run shop is hoping to keep scooping for generations to come
THE Hobby Horse Ice Cream Parlor, located at the corner of 8th and Ocean is deeply rooted in the Ocean City community. And for good reason – who doesn’t love delicious ice cream on a hot summer day? Or any day really.
The Dukeman family, husband and wife Michael and Ciara, alongside Michael’s brother Marc, have run the family business since his parents purchased the property in 1994. Although both of his parents have since passed away, Michael knows the importance of how family traditions are crucial to the success of their business.
Born and raised in Ocean City, Michael’s parents –Jerri and Edward Dukeman, owned a variety of real estate holdings around town. His mom, Jerri saw an opportunity to purchase the property and the rest is history.
“My mom had a keen eye for real estate and thought, this property would make a great ice cream shop,” said Michael. And that is how Hobby Horse Ice Cream Parlor came to be.
The iconic carousel horse, has been a staple on the corner of 8th and Ocean since the early 1910s. The horse, with its many changes over the years from metal to wooden to fiberglass, provided the inspiration behind the decor and theme of Hobby Horse. Over the past 40 years, it has been beautifully painted in bright and vibrant colors that have provided the backdrop for fun family photos to recreate generation after generation. The horse, which lends its whimsy to the feel of an old- fashioned ice cream parlor, back to a simpler time and an escape from the every day.
But Hobby Horse doesn’t just appeal to the visitors of Ocean City. Locals and summer residents alike enjoy the ice cream treats Hobby Horse has to offer.
“We get a lot of repeat customers – families that come back year after year as well as generations of families – grandparents who are bringing their grandchildren for a
scoop and a memory,” said Michael. It helps to build the traditions of a family run business all year round. The Hobby Horse is open year-round, extended weekends
through the winter and full time once the summer is in full swing. My parents opened the store when I was a senior in high school, so every summer I worked here,” said Michael.
A former teacher in Philadelphia and New Jersey, Michael had the opportunity to get back to his roots in Ocean City with a position in real estate.
“It was easier to be closer to the business,” said Michael so he returned to island life in 2012.
And when he returned, he had to take on new roles.
“My dad didn’t scoop ice cream, but he did all the maintenance work to keep the place up and running. When he passed in 2011, I had to learn how to do all those things-hammering, plumbing, etc. My thumbs took a beating,” Michael laughed. “But it was a role that needed to be filled to keep the family business thriving.”
And thriving it is. Hobby Horse is located in a business corridor with tons of foot traffic from the beaches and Boardwalk that keep customers coming through the doors all summer long. Michael and Ciara’s two sons, Paddy, three and Conor, 10 months, will look to be the next generation of Hobby Horse greats – scooping ice cream and building sundaes for all to enjoy. And whatever those ice cream dreams are, Hobby Horse has you covered.
They offer take out service, counter service, waitress service and seating– both indoors and out. And the ice cream choices? Seemingly endless. There is always a variety of flavors and if you want cup or cone, take your pick. Toppings galore and sundaes to boot. The peanut butter bliss is a crowd favorite as well as the homemade waffles and ice cream, as big as your head.
Find this and more in the July magazine