There's a lot to love about The Franklin Fountain, a tiny yet very charming old-timey ice cream shop in Philadelphia.
"Beauty and folly are old companions", notes a quote by Ben Franklin on their website, and what a fantastic way to sum up this charming old-fashioned soda fountain.
The aesthetic is misleading--while it looks like it's been there forever, that look is in fact the result of a lot of loving restoration and hard work. The Franklin Fountain opened in 2004, after the family, which already owned the building but rented it out, began considering their own business options. It was "then occupied by Eroticakes. Looking past evocative lollipops and biologically inspired baked goods, an observer might have noticed the wonderful decorative tin walls & ceilings. Or, if shamelessly glancing down, the original porcelain mosaic tile floor might have caught a customer’s eye. It is these very architectural details that inspired brother Ryan to float the idea of building an authentic ice cream parlor and soda fountain..."
After that, a very thorough ice cream education and massive interior renovation ensued. And it paid off, on both accounts.
As for the interior, here are a few photos.
Did I mention all of the employees wear old timey outfits? It is so freaking cute. Talk about the dream of the 1890s being alive and well!
And I should mention that they also became the owners of the utterly magical Shane Candies next door--a candy shop that has been there since the 1800s, which the owners of the Franklin Fountain gave new life when they took it over. Here are a few shots of the candy store:
It's like a time machine to a sweeter and more fanciful time.
Now, as for the ice cream. I need to tell you that it is good.
They have all sorts of old fashioned soda fountain favorites and sundaes. I certainly wouldn't overlook these. Take, for instance, The Paul Goddard Peach Praline Pie Shake: "Add one HOT slice of scrumptious peach pie to our Butter Pecan ice cream with milk and shake. Created right here by the legend himself and “by Goddard it’s good!”. Yum.
But seriously, you're great if you go with just a cone. Personally I don't like to do a cup there because they give it to you in a Chinese takeaway type container and I don't really like that. So I'll go for a cone. But going simple really allows the ice cream to shine. On previous visits I have tried the Honeycomb ice cream (sprinkled with honeycomb candy--a delicate and creamy lick of heaven), the Hydrox ice cream (OMG! Cookies and cream like it should be!), Irish Cream ice cream (smooth, silky, and with a little kick), and peach ice cream (a perfect taste of summer). You can tell that the ice cream is made with quality ingredients--it's straightforward, good and creamy, and that is the way I like it.
Just watch out in the summer--the line can be crazy long!
As they say on their website, "The Franklin Fountain aims to serve an experience steeped in ideals, drizzled with drollery, and sprinkled with the forgotten flavors of the American past."
I'd certainly say that they've attained this goal.
116 Market Street, Philadelphia; online here.