Historic Downtown Burlington City, New Jersey
UMMM Ice Cream Parlor first opened it doors on August 6th, 1982. Our story began when my father went to renew his registration at motor vehicles, which at the time was in Burlington City. While there, he met up with a friend, who had a business in town, and they started to talk. (If you happen to know my Father, this is a common occurrence.) In conversation the subject turned to the building we are currently in. “Wouldn’t that be a neat place for an ice cream parlor?”, the friend asked. My father came home and told my mother about the idea. Mom said “No way!” Dad stood his ground and got reminiscent and said “It will be great…” Mom again said “no!” Needless to say Dad won! My father did this by touching my mother’s sentimental side. Ice cream has played a role in our family for some time. My grandmother (Dorothy Garwood) worked in an ice cream parlor when she was young, then later in life my grandparents opened up the “Crumpet Hut” in Florence, NJ, where my father also worked. My mom also worked at the Roebling Pharmacy behind the ice cream counter.
So my father rounded up his three sons and it was time to get things going. We spent the better part of that summer getting ready to open the store. The store was used as a hearing aid store before we took it over. The only thing that is still original to the building are the windows. The interior was gutted and then redone with an eye on the past. Our main focal point is our marble counter and the backdrop, which came out of a pharmacy in Philadelphia, circa 1920. Through the years as things have changed and we have grown bigger, we have always tried to keep the newness hidden and stay true to the city’s historic roots.
That first year was exciting, and boy oh boy did we learn a lot! Some of the things we started with, we had to abandon. When we first started we used old-fashioned seltzer bottles and made sodas by hand mixing the syrup and seltzer together. Today, we still make our ice cream sodas with seltzer, syrup, and a dash of cream before we place that wonderful scoop of ice cream in it. We just replaced those old seltzer bottles with a soda machine. We still have some of those old bottles; you might see them in one of our window displays.
Another lesson learned in those early years was how to prepare for Wood Street Fair. (Wood Street Fair is a street fair that happens right out side our door that is held the first Saturday after Labor Day each year.) I can’t remember if it was our first or second year, that’s okay – it was a long time ago! We were off to a wonderful start, we were having a great time, meeting all kinds of new people and selling ice cream like it was a hot summers day. Wait – it was a hot summers day! Well the crowds kept growing and the line kept getting longer, then suddenly someone said, “I am sorry we are all out of that flavor!” Crisis mode, we started to scramble, “make more ice cream” and we did. However by seven o’clock that evening we had one flavor left, “Tutti Fruitti”, and only one scoop left and that was the last customer. We closed early that day and could not open until Tuesday when we finally had enough ice cream made. My father said, “That will never happen again!”
That winter we went from three lay down freezers to our first walk-in freezer. That freezer was 8’ by 8’ and held a lot more ice cream. From that day forward, Wood Street Fair has always been our big day and our proving ground of how far we have come. We used to have two scoopers and take out only service. Today our scoopers are much faster, so we only use one. We provide table service, inside & outside, where we will serve you in old-fashioned glass fountain ware. We serve water ice out of our side window and even have a stand doing Boost slushies and fruit shakes. The Wood Street Fair now draws around 25,000-30,000 people from all over for this one-day event!
We carried on with small changes here and there for the next few years, such as adding a walk-in refrigerator to store the large amount of dairy that we use. The old production room was made into additional seating, then the place where we made our waffle cones and now today it is a takeout window for water ice & Boost slushies. The next big change to the production facilities came in 1990. We moved the walk-in freezer into the same area as the walk-in refrigerator was and expanded it by four feet, making it eight feet by twelve feet and allowing more ice cream storage space. The production grew to twelve feet by twenty feet and provided the much needed room!
That brings us to the new millennium, where change was once again about to happen. As business continued to grow, so was the need for us to grow as well. We again expanded production. We added a second ice cream machine that yields twice the amount of ice cream the original machine did in the same amount of time. I still make it one bucket at a time – now it’s just a lot faster! We also added another walk-in freezer, this one is twelve feet by fourteen feet, taking our overall working storage to around 1,000 tubs of ice cream.
This brings me to today, where I spend most days making ice cream, which leaves little time for socializing with the people that have taken us this far: you! I do miss that very much, so please think of me when you take that first lick of that cone or that first spoonful of ice cream, since I am thinking of you with every bucket produced with loving care.
COME SEE US!
Located in historic downtown Burlington City!
Find Us Locally:
Ummm Ice Cream Parlor
236 High & Union Streets
Burlington, NJ 08016
Train Ride: Hop the RIVER LINE to Burlington Towne Centre stop, just a one block walk from station towards the Delaware River.