Vintage parlor serves up sweets

Life can be sweet when you have a big scoop of ice cream on a hot day, and Doyle’s Ice Cream Parlor can provide just that.

Doyle’s Ice Cream Parlor first opened its doors in 1939. Due to the Natatorium Park down the hill from the parlor and the trolley tracks that came down Boone Street, the ice cream parlor became a hot spot for both commuters and amusement park lovers alike.

Since 1939, the culture and layout of Spokane has changed drastically. The land where the Natatorium Park sat is now a mobile home park and the trolley tracks on Boone Street have been overtaken by asphalt and cars, yet Doyle’s Ice Cream Parlor  still stands as a beacon of what it once was, serving its locals with old time favorites.

Twenty-one years ago Jerry Gill became the owner of the ice cream parlor, but it did not come easily.

“I didn’t know one thing about making ice cream,” Gill said. “The recipes and people have helped out a lot.”

For many years he wanted to buy the parlor and bring it back to life after it had been closed from 1986 to 1990, but various circumstances made it a struggle.

“I came here when I was a little kid,” Gill said. “I lived two doors down from the shop and I knew the history, so I wanted to save it.”

Just when it seemed like he would never own the shop, opportunities opened up and it fell into his lap, he said.

Despite former struggles, the homemade ice cream and unique decor kept customers coming back for more. Gill and the employees still make homemade ice cream and waffle cones using original recipes from the beginning to the parlor’s existence.

Besides traditional ice cream flavors, the menu includes banana splits, root beer floats and sundaes. The eclectic decor of the shop makes it stand out from other ice cream venues. Each of the walls are covered with retro memorabilia from old soda advertisements to antique toys,  including race cars and Mickey Mouse dolls.

Keith Kelley is Whitworth University’s director for the center of service learning and community engagement and a West Central resident. He has a passion for building community and telling others about the uniqueness of West Central.

“As a community member, it is so special to experience such a wonderful, living relic of Spokane’s history,” Kelley said. “It’s always a delight to congregate with neighbors and enjoy delicious homemade ice cream on a warm summer evening.”

Doyle’s Ice Cream Parlor has become a local favorite for all ages. People from all over Spokane County come to enjoy a scoop of ice cream. Gill said grandparents come in with their grandchildren and tell them stories about how they used to come into the parlor for a treat when they were little.

Elise Van Dam Staff Writer

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