Longtime Southern California favorite Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlour, which at its peak had up to 50 locations, closed in Buena Park in late December. The beleaguered chain is now down to one Farrell’s in Brea, which is privately-owned by a group of investors.
Farrell’s was best known for its massive sundaes served by vintage uniform-wearing, drum-banging, siren-blaring servers. It was downright loud, but this business served generations throughout the West Coast for nearly 60 years.
According to the OC Register, investor Marcus Lemonis lamented the regularities of restaurant ownership, quoted losses from $10,000 to $12,000 per month, and suggested that people were no longer interested in a venture like Farrell’s.
In 1963, Robert Farrell debuted the first location in Portland until a 1972 acquisition put the Marriott Corporation in charge. After most locations were sold off or closed in the 1980s, a legal battle over name rights ensued soon after. In 2008, the company established franchise model with Robert Farrell as an advisor, and seven California locations opened soon after in Rancho Cucamonga, Brea, Riverside, Sacramento, Mission Viejo, and Buena Park.
Readers might recall seeing Farrell’s on the CNBC’s series The Profit in 2016. Lemonis invested $750,000 to help revive the restaurant, and the reality show covered Lemonis’ deal with Farrell’s owners and stakeholders. By the end of that year, Farrell’s closed three of its seven locations.
Some suggested Lemonis steered into a bad direction because he ventured too far away from Farrell’s origins, and made no effort to establish a social media presence. Whatever the reason for the closing, the odds were certainly against Farrell’s, as many longstanding SoCal chains continue to face either closing or acquisition, including Coco’s, Hof’s Hut, Norm’s, among others.