Farrell's Ice Cream Parlour - dinner - April 12, 2003
Farrell's is located at the Mountasia Family Fun Center in Santa Clarita and is currently the second Farrell's location in California, the other being in the Mira Mesa/San Diego County area. When you walk into the building, which also houses an arcade, you are immediately immersed in the Farrell's of your memory.
Welcome to Farrell's.
Our friends had arrived before us and had already put their names on the waiting list. At about 5:30pm on this Saturday afternoon, they had been told that it would be about a half-hour wait. They had been given a pager, which we thought was funny because pagers were definitely not associated with the Farrell's of old. They have apparently been having some problems with the pagers disappearing because our friend had to leave his driver's license in exchange for the pager. There seemed to be quite a few kids there, so I wondered how that would work with a group of kids who come in who don't have driver's licenses.
The wait turned out to be much shorter, as we were called within about 10 minutes and then led to our table. We were put in a booth nearby the ice cream counter, which was nice, but we all commented that the booths were actually a bit small. On our previous visit, six of us had sat at a row of tables in another part of the restaurant so hadn't noticed the size of the booths at all.
On our previous visit, we had been there fairly late (about 10pm on a Saturday night in late October), so it hadn't been that crowded. Also, since it had opened fairly recently, there was not complete table service. You went up to the counter and ordered your food. If it was dessert, you waited while they made it, and then you brought it back to your table yourself. If it was regular kitchen food, they would bring the food to your table for you when it was ready. It was nice to see that they now had full table service.
Our waitress came over to hand us our menus, and we set about deciding what to have for dinner and dessert. The menus are indeed the old newsprint type, with some history and other Farrell's information on the first fold and the menu inside. We put in our dinner orders and then further perused the menus to decide on dessert. We noticed that there were a few things missing from the dessert menu, though with the "custom concoctions" section where you can pretty much design your own dessert, you could probably re-create almost anything. As we waited for our dinner, we looked around the room some more, soaking in the atmosphere. The restaurant is designed almost like it's a movie set, with part of the decor only going up to a certain height, where there's then molding at the top as if to the ceiling, but then above that, it's just the building itself, with lights hanging down from the rafters.
When you enter the building, the arcade is to your right, and Farrell's is to your left, though there is a section of the candy counter that can be accessed from the arcade. The Farrell's itself has a main room where the booths are and also where the souvenir counter, the candy counter and the ice cream counter are located.
The view from the entrance.
The right side of the candy counter, accessible from the arcade.
Farrell's souvenirs are available for purchase.
The souvenir and main candy counters.
The main candy counter.
The main candy counter and ice cream counter.
The ice cream counter.
One part of the main dining area.
There is also another large room in the back that has rows of tables with chairs for larger groups.
Part of the dining area in the back.
The view from the back dining area. Notice that the molding stops well below the actual ceiling of the building.
In the back dining room, there is a player piano that is familiar in the Farrell's environment, but this player piano is a bit different as it is electronic. There is a touch-screen for selecting the songs, and there is quite an extensive selection available. On our previous visit, our group (being Disney fans) had been extremely amused to discover that there were quite a few Disney-related tunes on the player piano. I had particular fun choosing songs and having the rest of the group play "name that tune" as each song would play. The looks on their faces and the outbursts of laughter as they recognized songs like "It's a Small World", "Fantasmic" and the theme from the Haunted Mansion were priceless.
The electronic player piano with a fascinated admirer.
The restaurant is also decorated with lots of Farrell's nostagia. In the entryway leading to the men's and women's restrooms, there are framed menus from different time periods in Farrell's past. One wall of the main dining room is also covered with wallpaper of old-time images and stories.
Part of the main dining room with Farrell's wallpaper.
Close-ups of the Farrell's wallpaper.
We enjoyed our dinner there, but of course, the reason to go to Farrell's is the ice cream, and they certainly did not disappoint. In addition to being absolutely delicious, the portions are fairly generous, so keep that in mind when you're ordering.
Front and back of the flag that accompanies some of the ice cream orders.
During the course of our visit there, there were many birthday celebrations. In the Farrell's style, two employees would make a great deal of noise (including banging the famous Farrell's drum) on the way to the appropriate table, they would have the birthday person stand up (or in the case of small children, stand on a chair), one employee would call for everyone's attention, and a birthday tune would be sung. During the time we were there, we heard at least three different variations of birthday songs, so it was nice that they have varying things they can do. That's probably nice for the employees as well, who don't have to sing the same song over and over again.
The famous Farrell's drum.
A birthday celebration in progress.
And of course, no Farrell's visit would be complete without the appearance of a Zoo. For the uninitiated, the Farrell's Zoo isn't specifically listed on the menu except as part of a party package, but when we asked our waitress, she did say it was available for order for $49.95. However, she took our inquiry to mean that we were thinking of ordering it, and she tried to warn us that we were about to order 40 scoops of ice cream plus fixings, but we assured her that we were only asking for future reference. We had noticed, though, that there was a birthday party gathering in a corner of the back room, so when we saw them preparing a zoo, we were ready when the festivities commenced.
The birthday party is about to begin.
A zoo is born.
Everybody get ready.
The bell, siren and whistle are ready to go.
Make way for the zoo!!!!!
We had an absolutely wonderful time there. The noise, the atmosphere, the look, the food, and most definitely the ice cream took each of us back to our memories of prior Farrell's visits. It was so much fun to be in the middle of all that chaos - and fun. We ended up speaking to the couple at the table next to us, and they mentioned that they were from out-of-town to visit Six Flags Magic Mountain, and when they looked in the phone book for somewhere to have dinner, they saw that there was a Farrell's nearby. They had loved Farrell's when they were younger but had thought they were all gone, so when they saw that there was one right here, they had to come, partly to experience it again for themselves but also to be able to share this experience with their young daughter. And that's the real beauty of the seeming resurgence of the Farrell's brand. Those who have fond memories of growing up with Farrell's will be able to introduce the wonder and fun of Farrell's to a new generation.
Both the Mira Mesa/San Diego County and Santa Clarita locations are a bit of a drive for us, so we were thrilled to learn from the official site that a location will be opening up in Orange County at the Block in Orange in the summer of 2003. It's going to be fun to spend time, as we did years ago, hanging out with friends at Farrell's.
For the review of the now-closed Temecula location, please click here.
Please also visit Roger Baker's unofficial site, which has lots of information about the history of Farrell's and information and pictures from the Mira Mesa location.
Back to Restaurant Reviews.
Back to home.