Farrell’s

In 1963, Bob Farrell opened the first Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlour. It was in Portland, Oregon and the premise was simple: Serve tons of ice cream in a raucous party environment. People must have liked the idea because by 1970, there were 58 Farrell’s shops and hundreds of imitators. I suspect it was the imitators, with their attempts to out-Farrell’s Farrell’s, that gave that kind of establishment a less-than-good name.

By the time I went to one, it was a place you and your friends would go not so much to dine as to see who could embarrass themselves the most, consuming mammoth tubs of ice cream. One dish was even called the Pig’s Trough. If you finished its twelve scoops, you received a little badge that said, “I made a pig of myself at Farrell’s.” Such an honor. There were also little songs and skits the staff would do in serving the ice cream. One installment of The Bob Newhart Show memorably parodied these, with Bob being humiliated in public over his order of a single scoop. That episode alone probably scared a lot of people off from visiting a Farrell’s. At the very least, it summarized why I never felt too comfy in one.

Mr. Farrell sold the chain to the Marriott Corporation in 1971 and worked with them to expand its reach to 130 parlours across the nation. It is said that every one was successful, at least while Mr. Farrell was involved, but then it all went wrong in a hurry. He left the company and soon after, in 1985, it was sold. The new owners decided the concept had run its course (perhaps it had) and began to play down the “make a pig of yourself” theme and turn the chain into facsimiles of Howard Johnson’s — family restaurants with a great ice cream capability. By 1990, the chain was almost dead. In ’96, a new company acquired the name and trademarks, and has been slowly opening new Farrell’s here and there. In this era of more conscious healthy eating, it’s probably not the same.

39 Responses to Farrell’s

  • Doug Abramson says:

    Ah, Farrell’s! I was raised going to them. I loved the Huntington Beach location as a kid and enjoyed the three or four other locations that I went to over the years. They made a pretty good burger in addition to all of the crazy sundaes. The newish location in Mission Veijo is supposed to have captured the ambiance of the old locations, but I haven’t made it over there to check it out yet.

  • KoHoSo says:

    This is only a second-had report, but I have heard decent (but not raving) things about the new location in Rancho Cucamonga. Generally, the ice cream is supposed to be the same and the food is much improved. The complaints are mostly that it seems to be on the expensive side.

    Thank you for the heads-up on “News from Me” about this new site!

  • Bob Cassinelli says:

    Having been a waiter at the Farrell’s in Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg, IL, I can vouch for their burgers, they were great! Not mentioned was what would happen if someone in the party was celebrating their birthday: It was our job to make sure everyone in the place knew it and we would compete to see would could embarrass him the most. (I loved making them balance their sundae on their head as they walked around the restaurant, all the while loudly proclaiming their birthday, with bells and whistles blaring!) As a special event one time, we were invited to Comiskey Park (home of the Chicago White Sox) where we built the world’s largest ice cream sundae in center field. Afterward, the sundae was divided into large plastic bags and donated quickly to charity. I really have nothing but good memories of working there; we were treated well by management and it was always fun!

  • Nancy Collins says:

    I remember a Farrell’s in Little Rock, Arkansas, back in the early 1970s. My memory of it is something like Shakey’s Pizza, but with ice cream.

  • Mike Guinn says:

    Funny I saw this tonight as I just returned from Farrell’s at the Mountasia facility in Santa Clarita. It was the first time I had been there in 10 years. The ambience is identical to when I was a kid, in the early 1970s and used to have my birthday pary at the Torrance establishment. Same decor, same Pig’s Trough (it’s now $13.99). Really noisy — I can see why a 10-year-old would love it… too bad I’m 51, so it’ll be another 10 years before I return!

  • Doug Abramson says:

    Thank you, thank you! I hadn’t heard that a Rancho Cucamonga location had opened. A much easier drive for me than Mission Viejo.

  • KoHoSo says:

    I’m glad that was helpful to you! The Rancho Cucamonga location is in the same shopping center where one of Mr. Evanier’s current favorites has also opened recently, Five Guys. Eat at them both in the same day if you dare. :-D

  • Craig D. Smith says:

    Ah, yes, Farrell’s. Back in the early 70s it seemed every one of my Whittier Junior Theatre shows ended with a trip to the one at the Whittwood Mall. What I remember most is when they had one dish of piled on ice cream called “The Zoo”. This was so big it took two guys carrying it on a modified stretcher running all up and down the aisles to the sound of a siren before delivering it to the hungry customers. Bet the liability lawyers put the kibosh on that activity but it was a fun part of going while it lasted.

  • David Grudt says:

    I worked at the Cerritos Farrell’s from ’81 to ’83. My first real job. Bussed tables, then went to work in the kitchen. I still have friends from there that I keep in touch with. I was often called on to run a ‘Zoo’ around the store. I think I did a pretty damn good job of it!

  • Barbara says:

    I remember Farrells that had a thing called the ZOO tons of icecream they would run I mean run around the shop with loud sirens. It was fun… They also had a dish thing if you ate it all you got a ribbon saying I made a PIG of myself at Farrels Good Times…. I am 53 y.o.

  • bigg3469 says:

    Happy to say that Farrels returned in Brea Ca with a new resturant and boy is it very popular!! And it’s well worth the wait and the food is just as good like the original as well a the service and the….FUN that made Farrels great!!

  • Beth says:

    I have to say I am really glad that Farrell’s is making a comeback. I hear that it is the original owner’s sons that bought back the name and are making a new go of it. My husband and I have eaten at the Santa Clarita location and plan on trying out the Rancho Cucamonga one.

  • David Peattie says:

    My own memories of the Farrell’s in Torrance are that when someone ordered the Pig Trough, that two guys would carry it to you on a stretcher (after parading all through the entire restaurant blowing horns and making as much racket and to-do as they possibly could) and that even though I might have liked to try my luck at it, I found the uproar that came with it to be so potentially embarrassing that I never did.

  • Christy says:

    I loved going to Farrell’s in Cerritos through the late 70′s and 80′s. I was so bummed when they went away, and SO excited that they are coming back. So excited I’m going to have my 50th birthday party there. How fun huh!!!!!

  • Kenton Sellgren says:

    We moved to Cerritos, Ca. in 1972 and discovered the Farrell’s in the Cerritos Shopping Center. I loved going to the birthday partys where the main attraction would be the zoo speeding up and down the aisles, sirens wailing, lights flashing, 2 video games at the exit… Also the zoo would be adorned with plastic zoo animals. I just spoke to the store in Brea, Ca. and they are open for business weekdays 11:00am till 10:00pm. Weekends they stay open till 11:00pm. I even asked if they still run with the zoo and lights and her reply was yes. So they told the liability lawyers to stick it. lol. Get over there Craig and have a ball. I am 49 with a 12 year old daughter whom is dying to go there.

  • Margaret Olson Hall says:

    I loved the Farrell’s at the Cerritos Mall. We used to have so much fun there as kids and teenagers. We tried the “Zoo” for one party and even though there were about 12 girls eating it, we couldn’t finish it! As teenagers we used to go just to flirt with the guys working there. My husband and I just took our kids to the one in Brea (we didn’t know it was there) and it was just as fun as the old days. I hope more Farrell’s open up, it would be nice for my kids to have a place like that to hang out like we did. The Cerritos Mall would be a great place to put one, there are a lot of people who would love it! (hint hint hint)

  • Jane says:

    I used to go to the Farrell’s in South San Francisco. They were across the parking lot from Pizza and Pipes, so if you or a friends had a birthday, you knew you would be going to one or the other. I always wanted the Pig Trough because the staff would ring the bell, carry the sundae out on an actual trough and run around the restaurant as they sang, but my parent’s were cheapskates, so I had to settle for helping my friend’s get theirs. They also had a really good candy store. My favorite candy were the candy dots on the strip of paper. Farrell’s disappeared and was replaced by a place called Toons that was super lame and quickly disappeared itself. Glad to see that they are back, but I tried the one in Brea and the ice cream was just okay. Not like a remember.

  • Duane Porter says:

    We owned the Farrell’s in N. Little Rock, Ar, OK City, and Little Rock, Ar- Fun Times!!! Would love to hear from any of the former crew! I’ll be checking this site!

  • Andrew Leavenworth says:

    As a kid I enjoyed going to the Farrell’s in Tucson, Arizona. I moved to L.A. when I was 18 and worked as a cook and fountain guy at the one in Northridge. The folks that worked there were THE BEST! We had so much fun together! Sometimes it could be overwhelming at the grill getting just one order with 30 kiddie hot dogs, 20 kiddie grilled cheese, which meant 50 sides of fries along with a couple of adult orders. Or, at the fountain, you would have to make 50 kiddie clown sundaes for one order and you would have several more orders facing you on the wheel! I’m in touch with one other employee from those days, but would love to find others. I didn’t realize that they were opening again. I do hope that it’s true that the folks opening them are from the original family! ;o)

  • Liza says:

    I had fond memories of Farrell’s and the fun decor. Still recall a lot of people ordering the pig’s trough and wondered how they ate all of it.

    My parents gave the best birthday parties and in the late 70′s, I had my 5th or 6th birthday there and it was so much fun with my school friends. Still have the pics as proof. The staff was so attentive while we played musical chairs, had our guests play a Happy Birthday song with bells and of course an ice cream cake. I visited the one in Santa Clarita, but it was nothing like the one I knew in Montclair, CA.

    There were alot of ice cream parlors during that time, another place was called Betsy Ross, i believe, it was great just to sit down and enjoy a scoop of ice cream with your parents. I miss those days…

  • John says:

    They are putting in a new Farrell’s in the Arden Arcade area of Sacramento, CA. It is taking over the old Black Angus (Stuart Andersons) Steak house. Cannot wait~!

  • Leigh says:

    Have been to 3 of the 4 locations in So. Cal. Mission Viejo (if you have to wait, you’ve got a mall to walk around in). Brea (they have a walk-up window on the side of the building making ‘to go’ orders easy). Santa Clarita (my favorite location as it’s on property with a family fun center and a large location).
    Tried getting into the location in Rancho Cucacomga, but it’s small and the wait time was 2 hours – yes- 2 hours. Opted to go to a place down the street.
    Similar atmosphere as what I grew up with. But the portions of ice cream much smaller. Perfect example is the Zoo. You can barely see the whipped cream over the top of the bowl, and the bowl is even smaller.
    Yet still a great experience for the youngsters.

  • Brenda says:

    Is the Farrell’s in Torrance ,California still open? I think it was on Hawthorne Blvd. I had soooo much going there in the 70′s. Going again soon to the one in Mission Viejo. We should always have these good old fun places to bring our families and friends.
    Aloha!
    Brenda
    Please respond back with a answer!

  • Greg Godsey says:

    There is a new Farrell’s in Brea. I’ve personnaly have not yet been to it, but it always has a huge line to get in. I remember as a kid going to Farrell’s in Los Angeles and watching them bring out a birthday cake on a stretcher, screaming and yelling! It is some of the best childhood memories I have. It was always fun to go there. Can’t wait to go to the one here in Brea. Also, I’m told it’s owned and operated by Mr. Farrell’s son. I’m not sure if that’s true, but that’s what I’ve been told.

  • James Cimarusti says:

    I used to eat at the Farrell’s in Rosemead and in Upland. I always remember the place going nuts when someone ordered a “Zoo”! The farthest away Farrell’s I ate at was the one in the Intenational Marked Place in Honolulu, HI. I was so surprised to find a Farrell’s so far from home! Unfortunately, that location is long gone :(

  • James Cimarusti says:

    Intentional MARKET Place that is :) http://www.internationalmarketplacewaikiki.com/

    The IMP was founded by none other than Don the Beachcomber (Ernest Raymond Beaumont Gantt, AKA Donn Beach)!

  • Mary Creasey says:

    Brenda–the Torrance Farrell’s has been closed for some years; I remember going to it a number of times in college. I don’t remember offhand what the building is now.

  • Frank Cipriano says:

    Went to the Farrell’s on Rosemead Blvd. the night before my wedding back in 1978 and killed a Zoo all by myself that night. Should’ve got drunk instead. My new wife found out the next day just how lactose intolerant I was gonna be during our marriage.

  • Nicole says:

    Mary – the Torrance Farrell’s location has been El Pollo Inka (a Peruvian restaurant) for many years: http://www.yelp.com/biz/el-pollo-inka-torrance

    Farrell’s was THE birthday destination of my childhood. I have yet to try any of the recent revival locations but hope that when I do it holds at least half a candle to that location in Torrance and that amazing hot fudge.

    FYI, no one’s mentioned it yet but I would bet money that the “Ziggy Piggy” scene w/ Napoleon in Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure was inpsired by the Pig’s Trough at Farrell’s. ;)

  • Karen says:

    We used to go to the Farrells, I think the Torrance, CA location ( we lived in Santa Monica) after football games in high school. It was always wild and fun. Once my date and I walked back out to his car, a little tiny 1977 Honda Civic, and some of the other kids had picked it up and turned it sideways in the space. I only recently tossed my old menu, because it got moldy in storage (it was probably stored next to a used and stolen ice cream spoon.

  • Steve Schulman says:

    When I saw the Helm’s truck in the background of a scene in ” LA Confidential, I knew they had done their homework.

  • Steve Willkomm says:

    Went to the Rosemead location with a bunch of friends for my future wife’s (Anabelle’ s) birthday in 1976. We had many children’s birthdays there. The fun and memorable times in our part of Americana! Enjoyed the experience at Mission Viejo, Rancho Cucamonga, and Montclair. Soon to go to Brea with my wife of 35 years to enjoy some good memories.

  • Maria Encalada-Heldman says:

    I was telling the story to one of my sons that when I was in 5th grade our teacher would take us. The only way though was for us to have collected 300 aluminum cans. I got to go twice that year. I remember walking in and just being amazed at it. Complete and total wonderment. We would go to the one in Torrance, CA.
    Eventually I grew up and moved out and had a roommate who worked at the Farrell’s in Portland, OR…She is the only roommate that I still keep in contact with. I think our memories of Farrell’s will make us friends forever.

  • Marie says:

    For all you Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlor fans, there is an old 1979 teen flick
    called “On The Air Live With Captain Midnight” which has a scene shot in
    one of the actual locations, with the two main characters eating either a
    Pig’s Trough or a Zoo, discussing the female sex and it’s painful and frustrating unavailability for pleasurable physical release.

  • Anthony Enoch says:

    I grew up going to the Northridge Farrell’s with lots of my friends. Once again Marriott corp kills another one!!! They ALMOST killed my other hangout BOBS BIG BOY!

  • Grace says:

    Although I don’t recall ever visiting Farrell’s here in SoCal, I did frequent them when I moved to other states, including New Mexico and Texas. My daughter absolutely LOVED going to Farrell’s, and we celebrated one of her birthdays there.

    My favorite thing about it wasn’t the amazing ice cream choices, but the old-fashioned atmosphere. It reminded me of Main Street in Disneyland, which is my favorite part of the park as far as its look and feel go.

    It’s only been in the last six months or so that I found out Farrell’s still exists here, and I’m looking forward to visiting it when my daughter and her family are here again in July.

  • Bob Decker says:

    Fond memories of the Farrell’s in Torrance on Hawthorne Blvd, in the’70s. I recall the waiters running around carrying the big zoo (cost $8.00, I think), and as a kid of 12, this was way cool. But to finish a trough, (at $2.00), was the treat of kid dreams. I loved the decor, fun atmosphere, and the ice cream.
    Walteria was a great place to grow up, and Farrell’s was one of the best destinations.

  • latasha ross says:

    My child hood was so awesome when farrell`s was in Cerrito and pala ‘verdes. Best ice cream and birthday parties with the best Burgers

    Pictures

  • jd says:

    welcome farrels to riverside next door to red lobster and el torito off magnolia. the only thing i find different were the higher prices.but in this day age it was expected. its a special treat, was there for my birthday

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