Each property has its own charm and unique story - and we think you will enjoy hearing these stories and finding out more about the faces behind those lovely storefronts.
So each month, our Smithfield Rocks program will feature one of our outstanding merchants. We'll tell their stories and let them "toot their own horn" a bit. Why not? Smithfield Rocks! And they are a vital part of why we do!
Smithfield Ice Cream Parlor – “How can you not be happy when you’re in an Ice Cream Parlor?”
Margaret Carroll, owner of the Smithfield Ice Cream Parlor
It’s not far-fetched to say Smithfield’s Ice Cream Parlor is a town “institution.” Better yet, make that a “family-institution!” The shop has been on Main Street in downtown Smithfield for 32 years so owner Margaret Carroll has seen generations of customers stop by again and again. Family and friends are what it’s all about for Margaret. She opened her business when she moved from Northern Virginia and fell in love with Smithfield and felt the town needed an ice cream parlor. “We thought a cute small-town like Smithfield would like something like this.” And she was right! However, she was 7 months pregnant at the time and quickly found out it wasn’t as easy as she thought it would be to run the shop and raise her children at the same time. Nevertheless she persevered, starting out selling ice cream only at first and adding sandwiches a bit later.
“Back then, everyone either went home for lunch or brought their lunch to work. So we decided to offer sandwiches like pastrami they couldn’t get at home.” Today the Ice Cream Parlor’s sandwiches and subs are every bit as popular as its 32 flavors of ice cream.
“We bake our subs in a Hobart pizza oven which is at least 50 years old. The stone racks give the subs a special texture you just can’t get at home. Combine that with the fresh smell of melted cheese and deli meats and I think we have something special.”
And customers agree. Many remember coming as a child or bringing their children and now their grandchildren to the Ice Cream Parlor for lunch or a special treat. The black and white checkered floor and the red bar stools that kids love to twirl around on make folks feel as if they’ve stepped back in time to when life was a bit simpler. And the old-fashioned booths can sit from two to eight people – making for a cozy time with friends and family.
Visitors from Williamsburg and beyond, workers from Smithfield’s meat packing plants and executive offices, shoppers and locals enjoy hot fresh subs, pastrami, Rueben and club sandwiches, wraps, stew, chili, BBQ and hot dogs as well as the ice cream confections. And why not? As Margaret says, “There’s not too many authentic Ice Cream Parlors left.”
Margaret has deep roots in the community today. She raised her two sons in Smithfield and now enjoys spending time with her granddaughter. She also has a brand new grandson on the way! Margaret also gives back by serving as the treasurer of the Isle of Wight/Smithfield/Windsor Crimeline. Somehow she also finds time to walk, read, go to the beach and hang out with friends, but her dream cruise through Europe will most likely have to wait because “I would have to leave Smithfield…probably won’t happen.”
Of course, Margaret credits much of the warmth her customers enjoy to her wonderful staff. “I have been so blessed over the years to have such hard-working, down-to-earth employees. People say the American work ethic is dead. I beg to differ. Come in my shop any day. Not only are my employees hard-working but they do their jobs with a positive attitude and a warm smile on their faces.”
And there are plenty of reasons for folks to come to the Ice Cream Parlor in the chilly months of winter. How about evening specials such as whole subs for just $7 from 4:00 – 7:00 p.m.? Or some hot Chili and “to-die-for” cornbread on a cold night? The parlor even serves authentic Brunswick stew but promises to “keep out the squirrel.”
But maybe the best reason to come to this charming shop is because you’ll be sure to be greeted warmly by the staff, and as Margaret says, “I’m sure you’ll meet up with an old friend and find out all the goings-on in Smithfield.” And enjoy some delicious food and ice cream too!