'93, Hotel and Restaurant Management
Thanks to co-owner Paul Kramer, customers can once again get a double-dip of both ice cream and nostalgia at a Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlour Restaurant.
Originally founded in 1963 by Bob Farrell in Portland, Farrell’s was famous for servers dressed in turn-of-the-last-century vintage outfits who delivered outlandish entertainment along with super-sized ice cream dessert specialties.
After opening more than 130 restaurants, Farrell sold the franchise to Marriott in the mid-80s, which then sold it to an investment group that was unable to maintain its original success. By the late 80s, it ceased to exist. Then after some lengthy, legal wrangling in 2008, Kramer and his business partner, Mike Fleming, secured rights to the name and resurrected it at locations in Santa Clarita and Santa Monica.
“We did some research,” Kramer says, “and discovered Farrell’s was a rare brand that many, many people had fond memories of from when they were a child. So we decided to build on that reputation and recreate it for the next generation.”
In its reincarnation, Farrell’s has added fountain fantasies with lactose-free and no-sugar-added ice cream alternatives, along with wood-fired pizza and artisan macaroni and cheese. The menu still has favorites such as hot dogs, hamburgers and cold sandwiches, and the atmosphere is still the same.
“A lot of customers have videotaped the Farrell’s experience, which we call ‘happy-itis,’ and posted it on YouTube. Like when they’re serving The Zoo, which contains 30 scoops of ice cream and two people come running through the dining room with it to the sound of a bass drum and sirens going off,” Kramer says. “It’s things like that that make sure [you] just can’t help but smile when you walk into one of our restaurants.”
Kramer’s restaurant industry experience began when he was 16 working at a Pizza Hut in Ontario managed by his brother. By the time he was 18, he had his own Pizza Hut, which as he recalls, made him “their youngest general manager.” From there he worked at a new entertainment-themed restaurant called Bullwinkle’s in Upland where he rapidly rose from supervisor to general manager and later served as the company’s president.
Along the way, he attended classes at Cal Poly Pomona where he credits Professor Tom Costello as one of his biggest inspirations. “When you woke up in the morning and you had one of Tom’s classes that day, you didn’t mind going. He was just one of those guys who motivated you and was exciting to have as a teacher.”
Costello, who taught Cal Poly Pomona from 1987 to 1990, referred Kramer for his next job at Restaurants Unlimited in Los Angeles. Kramer says he “had a great time learning the restaurant business,” even though it demanded a lot of his attention and extended the time it took to earn his bachelor’s degree.
“The great thing about going to school and working was that I was able to go to class, learn the principles of restaurant management and then apply them,” Kramer says. “If I had any questions, I could then go to back to class and ask about what worked and what didn’t.”
Today, Bob Farrell is still around and serves as an advisor for the restaurants that bear his name. “Bob had a philosophy he called ‘give ‘em a pickle,’ Kramer says, “which basically meant providing customers with a little more in terms of service than anyone else. That’s still what we do today by providing a unique experience that creates marvelous memories for entire families.”
Two more Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlour Restaurants are scheduled to open by year end – one in Rancho Cucamonga and another in Brea – followed by three to five more in 2012. Kramer also has one more goal – receiving a master’s degree in hotel and restaurant management from Cal Poly Pomona.
“I’ve already contacted the college,” he says, “and picked up some prerequisites I need to get started. I got a lot from Cal Poly and made good friends there whom I still keep in touch with. It was an enjoyable experience and I learned a lot.”
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