by June Portnoy
For the past 70 years, Gerenser’s Exotic Ice Cream has become a historic icon in New Hope. It is the oldest family-owned ice cream parlor in this community, as well as the oldest continuously run business in the area.
But what truly makes Gerenser’s unique is its unusual and international flavors of quality homemade ice cream that can’t be found elsewhere. After all, where else would you order Caribbean Spicy Tree Bark ice cream?
Sadly, Gerenser’s is in danger of being closed.
“I have encountered a predator lender who is threatening to foreclose my property,” explains Captain Bob Gerenser, second-generation owner, along with his girlfriend, Justine Walters. “I’m asking for investors to help me raise $480,000 to save Gerenser’s or by the end of September, it will be shut down.”
Captain Bob describes the creation of Gerenser’s as a love story between founders (his parents) Stephen J. Gerenser and his wartime sweetheart, Julia Pelikan. Stephen, a history professor working in Washington DC, met Julia who lived and worked in New York. Their halfway meeting point was New Hope.
They became enchanted by this quaint, charming town and decided to marry and reside here. The newlyweds initially bought a restaurant, one of their favorite meeting spots when they were dating.
Their establishment began to thrive when Stephen discovered a small ice cream machine hidden in one of the rooms in the back of the restaurant. Up until this point, they had been serving commercial ice cream, but Stephen was unhappy with its quality.
Having grown up and worked on his family’s dairy farm, he knew how to make ice cream and decided to make the best ice cream anyone had ever tasted.
The Gerensers combined their background and skills to create the most unique flavors imaginable. Julia had at one time been a pastry chef and still owned an old family Hungarian cookbook.
Stephen had a vast knowledge of world history from his teaching profession.
“The key to my parent’s success was basing their flavors on popular ethnicity,” says Captain Bob. “They identified popular fruit liquors or dessert pastries from a particular world location to create authentic flavors from around the world.”
“The results were explosive,” continues Captain Bob. “By 1965, the lines waiting to come in for this ice cream literally went around the corner.”
The restaurant evolved into an ice cream parlor and for 15 years Gerenser’s operated 10 franchises along the East Coast. Although Stephen and Julia have both passed away, their legacy lives on at Gerenser’s,
“We continue my father’s dedication to creating new, exotic flavors, using all-natural ingredients,” says Captain Bob.
Some of today’s favorites include Quetzalcoati’s Elixir, Magyar Apricot Brandy and African Violet.
Although Gerenser’s is always adding new flavors, many of its original, signature flavors remain on the menu.
Captain Bob and Justine have also brought back a sit-down restaurant, The New Hope Grille, that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. This bistro is a pleasant surprise inside the ice cream parlor where ice cream remains king.
Captain Bob also offers boat rides along the river behind Gerenser’s.
“I’m fighting to save Gerenser’s, a New Hope tradition that both residents and visitors have come to love during the past seven decades,” says Captain Bob.
To help Captain Bob save Gerenser’s, visit www.savegerensers.com. Learn how you can invest in his kick-start program of “putting ice cream in your mailbox” by shipping Gerenser’s unusual ice cream anywhere in the country.
For more information about Gerenser’s, located at 22 South Main Street, call 215-862-2050.
PHOTO CAP: Captain Bob Gerenser and Justine Walters