Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlour opened for business on Friday the 13th of September, 1963. The first parlour was located at 21st and W. Burnside in Portland, Oregon. Bob Farrell and Ken McCarthy were the founders and proprietors of this unique parlour restaurant. "When we opened our first store, we had 32 employees, $1,300 in the bank and owed $26,000," remarks Ken about that first day.
From the beginning, the concept was pretty much established, from the player piano in the corner of the dining room to the red-flocked wallpaper on the walls. Tiffany lamps adorn the dining room, while “cherub” fixtures hang on the walls.
The concept was so simple, yet ingenious. Provide a wholesome, fun place for families, kids, couples, school groups to come to celebrate their successes. Provide a simple menu of burgers, sandwiches, and creative ice cream treats. Throw in a candy store for that old-fashioned effect, and make the place fun for everyone.
The ice cream parlour concept was based on the New York City parlours of old; the rest came from Bob Farrell’s upbringing in New York, with delicatessens and corner candy stores. Apparently it worked - people came in droves. Bob Farrell recollected the first day in his book: "We ran out of ice cream and bananas. We bought all the hamburger the store above us could grind. We cleaned out every hamburger bun, head of lettuce and tomato we could get from area stores."
Dixieland hoopla at first Farrell's
Being the first store, there were various elements that had to be worked out - it took around six months to fine-tune the parlour. According to co-founder Ken McCarthy, the original fountain had stools that were subsequently removed. Round tables that sat three people were replaced with booths to make floor space more effective. By March 1964, things were finally running smoothly.