Written by Steve Mosco, Smosco@antonnews.com Friday, 21 June 2013 00:00
A mountainous bowl of ice cream dripping with toppings screams summertime and is alluring enough to freeze time for the eater, no matter the age.
The cold and creamy treat harkens back to easygoing childhood days when the most daunting task was deciding between marshmallow or hot fudge—a decision almost always decided in favor of both.
Massapequa residents have been reliving those simpler times through ice cream since 1955, when the current incarnation of Krisch’s Restaurant & Ice Cream Parlour opened at 11 Central Ave. Steven McCue has been the man at the helm welcoming customers since 1993, when he became owner after starting as a busboy a decade earlier.
“It was a great place to work as a kid,” said McCue. “It wasn’t about making money, it was about being with your friends and having that sense of camaraderie.”
McCue spent his days at Krisch’s working in every possible capacity—he bussed tables, worked the counter, churned ice cream, washed dishes and did just about anything else that needed doing. Working in the restaurant, he developed a passion for food, and soon found himself enrolled in culinary school at the New York Institute of Technology’s Central Islip campus.
With a pantry full of food knowledge, and a business degree, McCue gained ownership of Krisch’s after its previous owner nearly destroyed the business.
“He didn’t have a love for the business or any respect for the history,” said McCue, who was given a sweetheart deal to take over the restaurant by the landlord. “I had faith in the business. The name was there. There was a core and I knew we had to emphasize that core.”
That core was first developed in Bayridge, Brooklyn, Krisch’s original home, in 1920. After a move to Hollis, Queens in the 1930s, the venerable ice cream parlor found its current home on Long Island’s south shore.
Remaining at the same location for close to 60 years is a great way to build a loyal customer base spanning generations. McCue said about 80 percent of his customers are regulars, a fact plainly obvious as the owner greets nearly every patron by name.
“This place has history and a great atmosphere, but they keep coming back because we offer top quality products,” he said, adding that all the ice cream and chocolate is made in-house and he buys fresh products whenever possible. “Our prices might not be the cheapest, but our products are the absolute top of the line.”
McCue’s standards extend from top quality meats for Krisch’s famous hamburgers to, of course, its ice cream. Even his vanilla, the most basic of ice cream flavors, is anything but plain. McCue shuns squeeze bottle extract in favor of Madagascar vanilla beans and the end result remains Krisch’s most popular flavor.
“If you come back in 10 years, vanilla will still be the most popular,” he said. “It’s the core flavor of everything we do.”
And everything they do with ice cream is enough to induce brain freeze. Krisch’s churns out a vast array of creations including dark chocolate strawberry, rainbow cookie, fluffernutter, burgundy cherry and many, may more.
A full lunch and dinner menu is also available, along with a staggering and enticing breakfast menu.
McCue said he will continue respecting the past while also looking toward the future, with plans to expand Krisch’s current location and possibly churn out more shops on Long Island.
But no matter what the future might hold, McCue said he will always honor Krisch’s commitment to the highest standards and its overall mission -- to offer an escape from life’s everyday pressures with a bowl of indulgence.
“I like when the customer leaves happy,” he said. “We give them a taste of history and a good product and they get a bit of happiness for the day. I here the sound of a spoon hitting an empty bowl and I know I’ve done my job.”