Editor’s note: This is a weekly series focusing on the importance of buying local.
The song is nearly a century old but the words still ring true: “I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream.”
And frozen treats.
The Washington community and surrounding area has plenty of options when it comes to sweet treats.
Even in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, ice cream stands, parlors and businesses seem to be thriving.
“Right now, we’re flourishing,” said Ron Ranko, owner of Scotty’s Ice Cream, Park Avenue, Washington. “May was the biggest month we’ve ever had. I haven’t done June yet.”
At Scotty’s, customers park in the lot and place their orders at the window.
Ranko and his wife, Marcy, purchased Scotty’s — which also offers quarter- and half-pound hamburgers and cheeseburgers, quarter-pound hot dogs, Philly steak and hot and sweet sausage sandwiches, among other menu items — 12 years ago.
Ranko credits “a wonderful set of girls” who work there and a loyal customer base for Scotty’s success.
Scotty’s, in business since 1957, features all types of sundaes, banana splits and delights, including the popular chocolate-peanut butter, butter pecan and black raspberry flavors.
“Depending on health and weather, we have about 10 customers who are ‘every dayers,’” Ranko said. “We appreciate all of our customers from here and those who come from out of town.”
Ed Dalton, the athletic director and football coach at McGuffey High School, resides near Scotty’s. Being a neighbor since 2009, he has grown to appreciate the delights and the business.
“The place is booming,” Dalton said. “It’s a gold mine. They do a great job and have awesome food. They have adjusted well to social distancing. I love ice cream.”
That love of ice cream within so many, attracts people to Sarris Candies in Canonsburg and its ice cream parlor.
Suzanne Antonucci and her family — husband, Joel, and three children, Julian, Aurora and Lainey — typically visit the ice cream parlor at Sarris Candies once a month, sometimes more frequently.
The products, the diverse menu, flavors and the atmosphere makes each visit an experience, she said.
“We like everything there,” Antonucci said. “The kids like the portion sizes, that’s one of the main reasons it ends up lasting a few days.
“I think when you go into the store, it’s just kind of the atmosphere. It makes everyone feel like kids. The atmosphere there makes a big difference.”
She added that the “kissing cousins” is a favorite of her children. They delight in the hot fudge, vanilla and chocolate ice cream with gooey marshmallow topping.
While the parlor isn’t in use right now, it is colorful and bright. The portions are significant and the selection is wide.
Sarris’ currently is featuring curbside service and owner Bill Sarris recently has installed different directional signs to help the flow of customer traffic.
“While the menu is limited, we’re doing well,” Sarris said. “We have people having little parties outside and even tailgates.
“We have made some changes through the years, adding flavors. You don’t want to add or take away too much. People have their favorites and we want them to order their favorites, what they like.
“We strive to make the best product. This is a destination for families. This is supposed to be a happy place. We like seeing people enjoying themselves.”
Two other businesses in Washington County that are thriving are Turtle Twist, Nine-Eighty Road, in Cecil/Canonsburg, and The Marketplace — at Emerald Valley, located on South Main Street in downtown Washington.
The Turtle Twist has closed its patio because of COVID-19, but owners Colleen and Jim Tatano are providing a drive-thru service.
They’ve also instituted flavors of the week for its soft-serve custard and Italian ice.
The feature, through July 6, is lemon Italian ice and Georgia peach. Early last month, it featured black raspberry custard and lemon-lime Italian ice.
“There’s not a lot of room in the parking lot and the patio just isn’t big enough for social distancing,” Colleen Tatano said. “We decided on drive-thru. It seems to be working. We have Italian Turtle, vanilla twisted with Italian ice. We do the twisting with the flavor of the week and the Italian ice.
“It’s our 16th season. It’s a little different. We are certainly trying and we’re going with that.”
Darla Bowman-Monaco, a Cecil resident, likes the taste of the Turtle Twist’s custard.
“It’s creamier and it’s rich. It’s a different taste and flavor,” she said. “I like the Italian ice and taking the custard and swirl it in. They’ve been there quite a few years now. It’s kind of neat they feature new flavors each week.”
Alisa Fava Fasnacht, owner and operator of The Marketplace — at Emerald Valley said her market uses Millie’s homemade ice cream.
It’s important to her that Millie’s utilizes products from Twin Brook Dairy Co., Bentleyville.
“Millie’s is gourmet style and they get their dairy products from there and I feel it’s important to have that Washington County connection,” she said. “We’re pretty happy about that.”
Customers rave about the ice cream at Emerald Valley. Fasnacht said cookie dough remains a favorite and lemon Yuzu, an Asia fruit, has made an impact as well. She said it “mellows” the ice cream.
“It’s not a bitter ice cream,” she said.
What Fasnacht might add is a little “spice” to her offerings.
“We have been known to spice things up,” she chuckled. “We’re not doing that now. I’m not saying that won’t reappear sometime.”
If one ventures to Pittsburgh, two other unique ice cream choices include Klavon’s in the Strip District, Penn Avenue, and Page Dairy Mart, Carson Street.
Chuck Page recently sold the business to his daughter Marjorie Prusia.
Some of the favorites there include heated Nancy B’s Bakery chocolate chip cookies on sundaes, fresh blueberry ice cream and so much more.
In 2016, it was voted one of the best ice cream shops in the country by Real Simple magazine.
“It’s going great,” Page said. “We have a lot to offer and our customers are loyal and great.”
Klavon’s is a true ice cream parlor.
Kimberley Greene, assistant manager, said business remains good and steady through the pandemic and Klavon’s traditional offerings and special recipes carry the day and pleasure the taste buds.
“All the ice cream is made in-house,” Greene said. “Our banana splits, hot sundaes and turtle sundaes … you can’t get them like this in too many places. People like to come in for these treats and to see the place, paintings and other things. It’s like traveling back in time.”
Those interested in joining the Be Local Network can contact Chris Slota at 724-225-1326 or by email at email@example.com. Discount cards are available at the Observer-Reporter and Almanac office, 122 S. Main St., Washington.