YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The story of Handel’s Homemade Ice Cream was started because of one woman’s love for her community, and of course, ice cream.
Alice Handel started making ice cream out of her home in Youngstown in 1945. What was once just a small corner ice cream shop near the intersection of Market Street and Midlothian Boulevard in Youngstown is not only expanding across the nation but just opened its 100th store in Rocky River, Ohio. But Handel’s is so much more than just an ice cream shop with several locations.
“It’s important to us that people know that we are more than just ice cream,” said Jim Brown, vice president of relationship management and senior advisor. “We’re part of the neighborhood, we’re part of the fabric of the community, but we are also the fabric of what goes on in everybody’s lives.”
Though the original Handel’s Homemade Ice Cream sits on Handel’s court in Youngstown, you’ll find the brand in 11 states with more on the way. The 100th store just happened to be in Ohio. And if you head to the new Rocky River location, you might notice something a little different.
“This Handel’s Homemade Ice Cream scoop shop is a little bit different than what everyone is used to in Youngtown,” said Heather Schlesinger, vice president of marketing. “This is actually a walk-in store you can come inside of. But it still has the incredible, amazing ice cream that we have had since 1945 — homemade every single day on the premise.”
Within the next few weeks, new locations will open in North Carolina, Texas, California and Arizona. Handel’s is also projecting to open 40 new locations across the country in 2023. So what’s the secret to the more than seven decades of Handel’s success?
“We all know it’s the best ice cream on the planet,” said Chief Executive Officer Rich Matherne. “It’s a great customer experience. It’s 48 flavors to choose from on any given day, all made fresh daily on-site in the store and generous portions all at a reasonable price.”
But Brown says the ice cream we all know and love wouldn’t be possible without the local community.
“Thank you to all the people in the 3-3-0 who have been an absolute blessing to our growth. If it wasn’t for their patronage, we would not have grown from a corner store to basically a neighborhood shop to a regional name to now an iconic national brand,” said Brown. “We don’t take that for granted.”
Brown credits things like people standing outside in freezing weather to get Handel’s Ice Cream as a major factor in the success of the brand.
“Last year, we had a weather event here in town when the temperature hit 40 below with the wind chill, and we had an older gentleman standing outside getting ice cream. I’ll never forget it,” said Brown. “The gentleman was asked why he was standing in 40-below weather waiting for ice cream. His response was that his wife wanted Handel’s and he wasn’t going to tell her no. That’s how special Handel’s Ice Cream is.”
Handel’s also has a new E-gift card program where you can send gift cards via email, text, SMS, and social media.
Locally, Handel’s has locations in Poland, Boardman, Youngstown, Austintown, Liberty, Columbiana and Niles. To learn more visit HandelsIceCream.com.