Ballyhoo is not a museum display, it just looks like one.
Stepping inside the storefront at 128 Luzerne Avenue in West Pittston is like stepping through a time travel portal and into a 1930s, 40s and 50s ice cream parlor. A vintage well-stocked penny candy display case and a period-correct Liquid Carbonic Soda Fountain complete the effect.
Rob Schultz, a West Pittston native, and his wife Valarie had a soft opening on Halloween of the store they call Ballyhoo. Valarie said her husband always wanted to start a business. Their mutual interest in antiques, architectural salvage and local history led them to opening Ballyhoo.
We thought the town should have some nostalgia, Valarie said. We wanted to bring back some tradition.
They choose a good spot.
The building at the corner of Warren Street and Luzerne Avenue was built around 1895 and over the years housed, among other businesses, a dry goods store, bike shop, gas station, and market.
The candy display case came from Rossi's Market, a fixture in West Pittston for decades a little further up Luzerne Ave. They found the soda fountain, which probably dates to the 1950s, in Indiana.
For starters the couple is using only a small section of the store next to the main larger section, which they plan to move into in the future and outfit with an elaborate carved-wood mirrored back bar.
The piece is from around 1910, Rob said. It passed through a few owners, soda shops, cafes and was even in storage for almost 50 years. Then it was once again used in Kentucky, moved again to Minden, Louisiana, where it was part of Skipper's Soda Fountain and Ice Cream. That's where we purchased it.
Accouterments to the piece include a marble counter top, stools, brass rail and high backed wooden booths.
While traditional loose candies such as candy buttons, caramel crèmes, Swedish fish, marshmallow ice cream cones, bubble gum cigars, watermelon slices and wax lips are an attraction, Ballyhoo is described as Purveyors of Ice Cream on the menu. They serve Libby's ice cream, though as graduates of the Penn State Creamery short course, they are considering making their own ice cream in the future.
They make milkshakes, malts and sundaes, with the Brulee Banana Split being their signature dish.
The fall hours are Monday – Thursday 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday and Saturday 2 to 9; and Sunday 1 to 8.