The Last Jahn’s Ice Cream Parlour in New York

With its wood grain panels and dodgeball-sized lights lining the wall, Jahn’s Ice Cream Parlour in New York really sets the mood for an old-school ice cream shop. I felt as if I were on the set of a Back To The Future film (I mean this in a good way).

Jahn’s Ice Cream Parlour in Queens, New York

I stumbled across the last Jahn’s restaurant when I was in New York. With its wood grain panels and dodgeball-sized lights lining the wall, Jahn’s sets the mood for an old-school ice cream shop.

Jahn's Ice Cream Parlour in Jackson Heights, Queens, New York
Jahn’s Ice Cream Parlour in Jackson Heights, Queens, New York

We arrived near 10 PM during a rainstorm, and while everyone in my party decided to have some dessert, I opted for a burger, duh. Their BBQ burger has an American cheese slice melted on the bottom and top bun; well, at least mine did.

BBQ Cheeseburger from Jahn's Ice Cream Parlour in Jackson Heights, Queens, New York
BBQ Cheeseburger

The sandwich was completed with BBQ sauce, bacon, tomatoes, and onion rings. This is your standard diner burger. It will satisfy your late-night burger cravings—at least, it did for me.

Jahn's Ice Cream Parlor Dessert Menu
Dessert Menu

As a late-night plus, they have an extensive dessert menu to look through and indulge in.

Sundae from Jahn's Ice Cream Parlour in Jackson Heights, Queens, New York

81-04 37th Ave #1
Queens, NY
(718) 651-0700

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Monday 7:00 am – 8:00 pm
Tuesday 7:00 am – 8:00 pm
Wednesday 7:00 am – 8:00 pm
Thursday 7:00 am – 8:00 pm
Friday 7:00 am – 8:00 pm
Saturday 7:00 am – 8:00 pm
Sunday 7:00 am – 8:00 pm

Brief History

Jahn’s Ice Cream Parlour is an old-fashioned ice cream parlor chain that was founded in New York. Their signature dessert is the huge Kitchen Sink Sundae.

Jahn's Opening Mention in the Miami News August 3rd, 1956
Mention in the Miami News 8-3-56

Jahn’s Ice Cream Parlour had two locations in South Florida: 249 Miracle Mile in Coral Gables and 17262 Collins Avenue in North Miami Beach.

Jahn's Ice Cream Parlour at 17262 Collins Avenue in North Miami Beach, Florida
Jahn’s Ice Cream Parlour at 17262 Collins Avenue in North Miami Beach, Florida

The original Jahn’s Ice Cream Parlour opened in the Bronx in 1897. By the 1950s, it had spread to other parts of New York, New Jersey, and the two South Florida locations. I’m not sure exactly when the first location opened in South Florida.

Jahn's ad from the Miami Herald 12-18-66
Newspaper Ad from the Miami Herald 12-18-66

Jahn’s in the Burger Museum

There was an area at my Burger Museum that featured diners, luncheonettes, and soda fountains. I had a beautiful 1920s lamp and two menus from the 1950s.

Jahn's Ice Cream Parlour Tiffany-style Lamp Cover, from my Burger Beast Museum collection
1920s Tiffany-style Lamp Cover
Jahn's Ice Cream Parlour 1953 Menu
1953 Jahn’s Ice Cream Parlour Menu

The History of the Soda Fountain

The Fountain at Little Drug Co - New Smyrna Beach, Florida
The Fountain at Little Drug Co in New Smyrna Beach, Florida

Ed Long’s History of the Soda Fountain is included on one of Jahn’s Ice Cream Parlour menus. I have typed it up for your reading please below:

This is Jahn’s, and the atmosphere created by all that you see around you is very much a part of the history of the soda fountain.

Enjoy that ice cream soda, and let’s wander back to 1808 when the sidewalks of New York weren’t exactly overflowing; the State, in fact, had only one-third the population of Queens today. (Remember? Well then dearie, you’re much older than we.) In that year, mineral water was sold for the first time as an “aid to health.” Thus the prime ingredient of the soda, the element which puts the fizzle into carbonated water, and brings out the flavor of the soda, got its start.

That element, (dots vot makes der bubbles) carbonic-acid, or carbon dioxide, really goes way back to the 16th century, to the famous medieval chemist, Paracellcus, who discovered it. Various scientists throughout the next two centuries played around with carbonic-acid, toying with the idea of its possibilities in drinking form, because they associated it with the brewer’s art, in which of course, it is a natural byproduct of fermentation. (So that’s how Grand-pa blew up the coal-bin.) In 1767, Dr. J. P. Leeds, pro duced the first drinkable carbonated water.

Liquid Carbonic Co. Soda Fountain Dispenser
Vintage Liquid Carbonic Co. Soda Fountain Dispenser

A Swedish chemist, named Bergman, decided to try to produce carbonic-acid in quantity. He used chalk and sulphuric acid, while others combined marble dust and acids. (Said the girl-bopper to the boy-bopper, “Man, they’re mixing our drink.) Don’t worry, gentle reader, today it is collected in chemical plants by various methods, compressed, liquified and purified, and it reaches Jahn’s in steel tanks, from whence it is mixed into your sodas.

Carbonated water was brought to the U.S. by trading vessels, and in 1806 it was first manufactured here. Two years later, in 1808, drug stores started to sell it as a “health-giving water“. One druggist, a Dr. Philip Physic, (no kidding), is supposed to have sold carbonated water mixed with medicinal salts. (Come to Jahn’s and who knows? – and think of the money you can save on pills.) Carbonated water was first sold in bottles, but soon the possibilities of over-the-counter sales by glass were recognized. The first crude apparatus consisted of a tank of charged water, to which a pipe and a spigot were connected. The tank was set in ice and mounted on the counter, from which they dispensed “mineral water“, soda, or “seltzer water.”

In 1838 some bright soda fountain operator got the idea of adding flavors to the carbonated water. His friends and customers enjoyed it so much that he began to bottle the stuff. (That’s how a lot of good men go wrong.) The reason of course, that carbonated beverages have continued and increased in their popularity, is that carbonic acid in drinks acts much the same as salt on food, accenting the flavors. That early popularity paved the way for increasing use and sale of “soda” and in turn the large-scale manufacture of soda fountains which dispensed both soda water and syrup.

Dow's Soda Fountain
Dow’s Soda Fountain

The first marble fountain was made by C. D. Dows of Lowell, Mass., in 1858. He improved the fountain then in use, by combining a soda fountain and an ice shaver housed in a white, Italian marble box. “Dow’s Iced Cream Sodas“, made by adding soda water to fresh cream and finely shaved ice, became all the rage. Another soda fountain pioneer, I. W. Tufts, of Sommerville, Mass., designed and built a “new style” fountain which proved so successful, that he gave up his drug store and started manufacturing soda fountains in Boston. Others started soon after, among them a Mathews Co. and a Puffer Co.

In Papa Jahn’s room there is an American Soda-fountain, built in 1894, and that beauty in the front, behind the main counter, is a Puffer, made in 1888. An early promotional sales blurb, circa 1870, shows the beginnings of the modern huckster technique, “Chairs are a good thing; when resting, customers drink slowly. This means looking about, seeing other things to buy.” (Well – what are you waiting for? Buy a waffle or something.) The aforementioned Mr. Mathews was a real huckster. In his catalogue he said, “Youth, as it sips its first glass, experiences sensations which, like the first sensations of love cannot be forgotten, but are cherished to the last.” (Are you with me, Abagail?) The ice cream soda of today, however, did not come about until 1874, when a soda fountain owner used ice cream by accident. He had used up all his sweet cream, and couldn’t get any at the time. He bought some vanilla iced cream, intending to let it melt and use it as a substitute, but when he returned to his shop there were waiting customers, so he used the iced cream. A great American pastime, the iced cream soda was born!

1940s Soda Fountain
1940s Soda Fountain

How about a sundae? If you’re enjoying a Super Duper for Two, or a Special, you may wonder how this wonderful idea got started. Well, a Pennsylvania Blue Law did it all. Blue Laws, you say, pertain only to intoxicating beverages. True, but in Pennsylvania, not too many years ago, carbonated water was considered an intoxicating beverage and so was verbotten on Sunday. Some smart operator got around the law by sellingice cream and syrup, minus the carbonated water, on Sunday, and that was the start of the “sun-dae“. (Who ever heard of a soda water hangover?)

And so, back to right now, in Jahn’s. We have endeavored by this little article to give you some of the facts, some of the romance and the humor of the history of the soda fountain. Our rooms, paintings, fixtures, and our old nickelodeon, and chandeliers, in fact everything but our waiters, are a part of the Gay Nineties. They represent a good old fashioned era, and our good old fashioned iced creams and trimmings, go right along. Jahn’s is proud to be a small chapter in the history of the soda fountain.

(Finished that Super yet? Well then stop reading and eat!)

15 thoughts on “The Last Jahn’s Ice Cream Parlour in New York”

  1. oh the memories keep pouring in. I can remember Jahn’s ice cream parlor in Huntington Village right across the street from the movie house which is now called the Paramount. We all used to hang out at the ice cream parlor and when it got to about 9 o’clock we left and went home, the good old days never come back again memories forever

  2. Well, I hope they’re still open come June 2028. I plan on cashing in on my “anytime” FREE, dated & signed, banana split gift certificate. Which will be fifty years old then. Graduated from Erasmus Hall H.S. on Flatbush Ave back then; Or, maybe I should auction it off? Hmmmmm.

  3. Please consider reopening one in North Miami Beach. I used to take vacations with my family at Christmas back in the 60s and 70s. I am sad the Wolfie’s, The Rascal House, and Pumper nicks have all closed down to be replaced by high rise condominiums that no one can afford to live in.

  4. In 1966, I was 16 and my friend Irene Stockman took me to Jahn’s, 0n Church and Flatbush, for a sweet sixteen birthday surprise. We had the kitchen sink. It was wonderful and so was my friend. So sorry we lost contact. I’ll remember that day and my friend till I die.

    • I lived in Jackson heights, queen in 1961-63 and went to the local high school..Newtown high. every day after school we went to Jahn’s and my fondest memories were spent there . such sweet memories. thank you

  5. I remember Jahn’s on Church Avenue off of Flatbush Ave, back in the 70’s. The kitchen sink was amazing, matter of fact, all of their ice cream desserts were amazing. I miss the good ole days. I saw a post from Mommy Poppins, advertising Jahn’s and the kitchen sink was $62.95. I wonder what it was back in the 70’s.

  6. i was born in brooklyn in 1957… moved to west islip on long island in 1964…. west i slip had a jahn’s ice cream parlor… growing up i remember my family going to jahn’s…. best of timez in brooklyn and west islip!!!… i will never forget ‘the kitchen sink!!!…

  7. Growing up in the 60’s we would periodically hit Jahn’s in the outer boroughs… in the late 60’s we would periodically go to a massive stand-alone Jahn’s in New Jersey. In the mid 70’s while attending and living at Fordham University in the Bronx we would go to Jahn’s on Kingsbridge Road right off of Fordham Road, and after moving to Queens we would go to Jahn’s in Richmond Hill right off of Jamaica Ave. One evening when my wife and I were heading to Jahn’s we ran into my brother and invited him to join us – and afterwards when we were leaving Jahn’s I saw a Help Wanted sign and jokingly told my brother he could work there. He joined Jahn’s working in the kitchen and after the cook left he became the cook there! I now see that the term Kitchen Sink has been adopted by many private ice cream parlours – and by Disney for use in Disney parks.

  8. I lived near 23rd Ave. & 86th St. in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn in the 50’s & 60’s & part of the 70’s. Jahn’s was our favorite lunch/dessert/late night hangout. It was a great place for a snack after a movie or bowling at Louisiana Lanes. Our favorites were the shrimp salad or chicken salad piled inside a big club roll, with a side of crispy fries & a coke. If still hungry, we would share a sundae. If we were 8 or more we would share the “kitchen sink”. Their banana splits could feed 4. Their toppings were fresh & delicious. The decor took us back in time. It really was a unique place.
    Wish they would open another one like that; it would be worth the drive back to Brooklyn.

  9. I used to go to the Bensonhurst one all the time for veal cutlet parmigiana. I loved the way it was heavily breaded and deep fried.

  10. Beast,
    I frequented Jahn's as a kid. For me, this place was ice cream heaven! It was the first time I ever heard of the kitchen sink–lol.
    Actually, I don't remember any of the regular food (but then again, this was over thirty years ago.)


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