A scoop of nostalgia
Like every other child of the '70s, I have fond memories of hanging out at Farrell's Ala Moana and Pearlridge with my friends. We dreamed of the day we'd have enough money to order "The Zoo" and hoped that no one would ever alert the singing waiters to our birthdays out of fear of being singled out, though the promise of a free dessert was tempting.
Windward Mall / 247-3788
Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays to Thursdays; 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays
Cost: About $15 per person for food and ice cream
From my limited vantage, Farrell's was home to teenagers and young couples on dates, so I was a little confused by the resuscitated Farrell's at Windward Mall. Why does it look like a children's playroom?
My memory isn't perfect, but I could have sworn the interior was much more polished, evoking the ambience of a Gay '90s Victorian ice cream parlor (that's 1890s, not 1990s, to the millennials out there, a time when "gay" meant "merry").
Trying to compare my memories with those of others my age, the general response was, "I don't know, I was a kid. I just wanted ice cream."
Just goes to show how fond memories can wreak havoc on reason and objectivity. I only saw teenagers when I went, but we probably took over the room after the families had gone home. Naturally, kids and ice cream go together, as one dad learned earlier this week after resigning himself to his fate of waiting 90 minutes for a table.
"Don't you want to go somewhere else?" he implored his 6- or 7-year-old daughter.
She shook her head.
I had to be there because of my job, but I could not imagine ever willingly putting myself into such a scenario. I cannot believe the numbers of families, night after night, willing to wait that long, all because the restaurant doesn't have a reservation list. (There is a party reservation list, but I was told it's been filled to the end of the year.) On my first visit I was smart enough to go at 4 p.m., when the wait was only half an hour. Two subsequent waits, from 6 p.m., were to be an hour and a half, with the first wait ending in an hour when the mall lost its electricity.
Parents might have no other birthday options special enough for their wee ones, but others could easily fulfill their ice cream craving by strolling over to Baskin-Robbins directly across from Farrell's, or buying a few pints of Ben & Jerry's at the supermarket for scooping at home. But, as with any other dining experience, it's not just about the food, is it? At Farrell's it's about the magical combination of ice cream, family and most of all fun of the noisy, clanging, yelling sort.
STAR-BULLETIN / JANUARY 1978
The Farrell's of the 1970s looked pretty slick. Today, a new generation can enjoy the fun of the resuscitated ice cream parlor, albeit in a setting geared toward the Kindergarten crowd.
ALTHOUGH I remembered a little about the old Farrell's decor and the singing waiters, I knew nothing of actually getting real food there. Ice cream and Coke or root beer floats were all my friends and I ever had there. Didn't everyone know you went to Farrell's for ice cream and Zippy's for food?
Much of the food today is of the breaded, deep-fried variety, as in fish and chips ($9.25), or appetizer orders of chicken strips ($6.95/$8.95), mozzarella cheese sticks ($5.45) and onion rings ($4.75/$6.75). All the appetizers can be combined with potato skins ($6.95 a la carte) in a golden-hued Melting Pot Platter ($11.45). Perhaps those 25 and younger can tackle this platter, but I couldn't help but add up all the cholesterol and fat in following this with ice cream.
Your best bet will be a burger, whether the Farrell's burger ($6.95), a one-third-pound certified Angus patty served with tomato, lettuce and red onion; the Kaneohe mushroom burger ($7.75), also top-ped with Swiss cheese; or the Grass Skirt ($7.20), in which the burger is bathed in teriyaki sauce.
For the kids there is a Keiki Corner menu of a keiki hamburger ($4.25) that seems just as big as the adults', Cheeezzy Macaroni ($4.25), Chicken Nuggets ($4.75), Grilled Cheese Samich ($4.25) and more.
Conscientious diners might start with the Last Roman Dictator (a k a Caesar) Salad, at $6.50. Adding chicken breast ($1) might make an adequate meal before the main event.
All this is just the warm-up for the real show, and yes, those Belly Busters are back. Most popular with the party crowd is the Honolulu Zoo Sundae ($42.49), with its five flavors of ice cream; three fruit sherbets, five toppings, whipped cream, bananas, nuts and cherries, enough to feed six, with extra portions for $4.69 each. Heads still turn when it's run to your table on its own ice cream sedan chair.
My dreams of polishing off the zoo, sloshing through the Pig's Trough ($12.49) and scaling Diamond Head ($22.49 for up to four people), with its vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, coffee and butter pecan ice cream topped with marshmallows, whipped cream, bananas, nuts and strawberries, has faded over time, but I'm game for a Banana Royale ($6.25) any day. One's choice of venues might change, but few ever outgrow a love of ice cream.