Saturday, November 24, 2007

Jahn's is no more

After 110 years Jahn's Ice Cream is closing up shop. This was their last day. I've been taking my kids here once a month or so for many years now and I have been a regular since I moved to Kew Gardens as a kid in 1972. I've always loved their ice cream and, especially, their amusing menu. Ever order a Kitchen Sink or a Boiler Maker? Fun stuff. Jahn's was one of the few remaining links to the glory days of nineteenth century Richmond Hill. It never really changed. The carved up wooden walls, the marble counters, the converted gas lights, the coin-operated player piano, the period art and antiques, it is all still there. My kids loved watching that old piano light up and play a song by itself. I spoke to the owner who said that after 18 years, they just couldn't make it here anymore. Such is life I guess but I am really going to miss the place. The antique fixtures were purchased in bulk by someone who is restoring a period ice cream shop somewhere in the mid-west. I did manage to buy a few of the menus though. I might get one framed. The pictures above were taken as some of the items were being packed up for shipment. I'm glad the kids and I got one more sundae and a chance to see the old place off. Sniff....


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shoot! I just talking to a friend about Jahns and we both said wwe have to get over there. I'm really bummed....

9:55 AM  
Blogger Ed said...

I'm really sorry to see them go. It was a fun place.

10:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am really sad to read this. I also took my children and niece and newphew to Jahn's atleast 6 times a year. I can not tell you how many times I went with the kids and friends over the past 3 years during the summer months after seeing a performance at the Bandshell at Forest Park. Jahn's you will be greatly missed!

5:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This place is great! I was just there a week ago. How could it not have been doing enough business?

1:59 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

Hard to belive for me too. The place was never crowded when I went but it wasn't empty either. Still bummed.

2:01 PM  
Blogger David M. Quintana said...

It's a shame to see Jahn's closing...I remember it during the 60's and it was a hoppin' place...I'd always get the ice soda in a flower vase glass...The times they are a changin'....

7:04 AM  
Anonymous maria said...

Jahn's opened in this location in the late 1920's. It was not there from 1897.
The movie theatre next door was being built between 1926 and 1929...and Jahn's was not there was a lady's clothes store. It is another tragedy for Richmond Hill.

7:21 AM  
Blogger Ed said...

Thanks for the clarification. I wasn't sure if the date on the awning was for the business as a whole or just this location. Still stinks though.

7:51 AM  
Blogger John said...

What a shame. The whole area has gone downhill but could have been revitalized. When I see how places like Hoboken have turned around it makes me wonder what could have been in Victorian Richmond Hill.

I'll miss this place. I was hoping to take my kids there as my parents did for me. I guess Salerno's will go soon and how long before the library suffes the same fate as the one in Elmhurst?

8:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sorry to see Jahn's close, too. I remember going there as a kid...for a friend's birthday party in 1960 we had a Kitchen Sink. Many years later I moved right around the corner and brought my son there for ice cream treats. My husband worked out of the 40th Pct in the Bronx, across the street from the original Papa Jahn's who opened the Richmond Hill shop for one of his sons. What a shame the changes we see as time marches on!

3:16 PM  
Blogger Harriet said...

I actually felt a pang of sadness and regret at this news. I fondly remember the Kitchen Sink (you couldn't order that for $6.50 unless you had a bunch of friends with you) and the wonderful marshmallow sundaes. The one in Jackson Heights drew tons of kids on a Friday night to hang out in front and "be seen" and even more kids on Saturday and Sunday evenings, especially after the beach (and you had a sunburn). I wish I could have bought a menu and framed it, as one of the others mentioned here.

6:37 AM  
Anonymous gzuggy said...

my name is george, my father work there for 25 years they and i worked there for 4 years, they called my father and i zuggy, short for our last name. Everyknew my pops for his cooking 20 - 30 orders at a time, my father was a very heavy man but glided behind the grill like a dancer on stage and always greeted everyone like they were family,I was said to here this and i was there 3 weks before they closed, I wish i was there to see the place one last time for memories. I`ll miss the old place.

2:06 AM  
Anonymous The Chief said...

Ah, the Jackson Heights Jahn’s…scene of many a weekend or summertime lunch with my aunt, my sister and I some thirty years ago. Hard to believe it is now the last one, and I walk by it on the way to the “7” train each time I visit the family. My most vivid recollection has not to do with anything ice-cream related, although I believe we did frequently partake of a fountain-based dessert after finishing our meal. Instead, it was the time that a minor menu change cast such a pall on our table that the poor, harried waiter – jacket and bow-tie clad, naturally – would have wondered what he could possibly have done to bring about quite that reaction, had he enjoyed even a moment to spare. Of course, I’m talking about the day we learned that the “steak” sandwich had been 86’ed forever. Can still remember it like it was yesterday.

9:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


My name is Emilio Bandiero,and I now live in Eugene, Oregon. When I worked at Jahn's in the 1950's everyone called me "Sonny." I started working there is 1954 when my father, who worked there weekends, got me a part time job after school. Back then the ONLY thing we served was Ice Cream - and waffles after labor day. Food arrived in about 1958.

I remember Zuggy and some of the other folks who worked there early on. Frank Jahn was always "in residence" on Saturday nights at the cashier's desk, which, by the way, had a brass railing that was from his mother's bed after she died.
The two apartments upstairs had all our paper goods and was something of a warehouse. An old guy (older than I am now) named Smitty also lived up there and did some kind of work around the place. Freddie Barnes was the night porter. Freddie always had alcohol on his breath and would attribute it to his pluerisy. At one point we didn't see Smitty for about four or five days and Frank Jahn sent my father up to see if he was all right. Dad found Smitty dead.
On Saturday nights we had 24-28 guys (yes, there were no women, except for the Murray sisters who were cashiers) working, and the lines were around the block. Irving "O,"the manager, had hs brother or cousin working the line to keep order. He wore a white tuxedo. Quite a presence!
On Easter Sunday, 1955, it was quite warm and we sold over 500 gallons of ice cream. How do I remember that? Well, along with Henry Gole, I was one of the "celler men" who made the whipped cream in quart aluminum containers (shaking them all day long and bringing them up and down the stairs). The ice cream was made by Arnold, who had learned the craft in his native Germany. It was made in 5 gallon metal containers and stored in the large freezer downstairs. Henry and I carried these up two at a time as they were called for. At the end of that Sunday Henry and I washed 100 of these metal behemoths, along with hundreds of jars that held the toppings that went on the sundaes.
It was a fun time around Richmond Hill and the memories remain. I've told my wife about working there and two years ago we decied to stop in for a hot fudge sundae, after we had lunch at Salerno' Italian restaurnat up the block. It was faily depressing because it had the look of death around it. Thre were abotu three people there and it felt kind of creepy, particularly in contrast with the former high energy place I had worked at. But I'm glad we went there and had a last fond farewell to the place. Thanks for the memories!

12:09 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

Thanks for that comment. I never knew what a happening place Jahn's was at that time. Shame they are gone now. I already miss the place.

12:17 PM  
Blogger Paul W. said...

I will sorely miss Jahn's, a one of a kind old New York style establishment .Rest in Peace.

2:48 PM  
Blogger T said...

Grew up going to the Jahn's in the Herricks Shopping Center (Garden City Park/Nassau County) and later on Queens Blvd on the border of Rego Park and Forest Hills, after getting my first apartment nearby. I loved going there for my birthday and the free ice cream sundaes. I never got to the main shop in Richmond Hill, unless you consider I'd been there by proxy, as my aunt used to hang out there in the '40's. If there are any "ice cream parlors" remaining, they are few and far between; they don't seem to be able to sustain themselves on their own--but have to be on a menu with "food" or we all just close our eyes and hope that a Starbucks frappacino will pass in this age of transfats, HGLs and other things that try to convince us that fun foods are forbidden. Thanks for the pictures and memories. The menu was just the best thing about the place, unless you include the booths, light fixtures, counters, flocked wallpaper and the raison d'etre, the ICE CREAM CONCOCTIONS!

6:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My great grandparents went on dates there, and my dads family grew up going there. I was taken there 3 times when I was younger, but always thought of it as a special place for my family. Its really a shame that it is closed now.

4:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My Father owned a Jahn's in Bayside on springfield blvd. Frank Jahn's daughter and granddaughters lived in my building in forest hills. Frank Jahn was a large man in stature with a golden heart. He was at my Bar Mitzvah in 1962. I have film of him then. They served different Jahn's ice cream desserts at the bar mitzvah, like a twosday, a joe sent me, Kitchen sinks, etc. [really i can't remember any more]

ric garren

ric garren

7:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I worked with your father in the Sheepshead Bay Jahn's before he bought the one in Bayside. I think I may have met you when you were very young.

emilio bandiero

10:16 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Exactly where on Springfield Blvd.was your dad's Jahn's located, and, do you know when that location first opened (not just when your dad bought it), and when it closed?

Thanks very much.

3:59 PM  
Blogger Hope Trachtenberg-Fifer said...

Exactly where on Springfield Blvd.was your dad's Jahn's located, and, do you know when that location first opened (not just when your dad bought it), and when it closed?

Thanks very much.

4:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi my name is Les and I worked in the Long Beach Jahn's from 1956 till about 1960 approximately. I was the guy behind the counter making all the great sundaes till sometimes 1-2 in the morning. the place always had a line outside esspecially on the weekends in the summer.It was a great time to remember. I made enough money in tips and salery to by my first car when I was just 16. It was a Dark Green MGTD. The place started to serve more and more food and less of the old time favorites until the store went down hill under new management until it finally closed. I guess the good old days are really gone and never to return. It is really too bad todays kids don't appreciate those simpller times. If somebody has a copy of the old menu, I would enjooy seeing it again.


8:43 AM  

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