WEST PITTSTON — To residents of the Greater Pittston area, Blue Ribbon Dairy Farm is more than a place to grab an ice cream cone, a sundae or even a hand-packed container of an icy treat; it’s a tradition that draws those of all ages to the family-owned business on Exeter Avenue.
The business has deep roots and a long history, established in 1945 upon Ernest Lombardo’s return from World War II.
A family man, Lombardo wanted to start a business that would not only provide for his family, but benefit the community.
He began by picking up and delivering milk bottled on area farms, then shifting to bottling the milk on site and delivering it.
Today, milk bottling is just part of the business that includes an ice cream parlor which has become a “go to” spot for dates, family nights and friendly gatherings, serving up over 60 flavors of ice cream, sundaes and milkshakes, carefully prepared for each customer.
Lombardo’s daughter Ann Sorick and her family now tend to the business, which Ann describes as both a blessing and a challenge.
Her husband Ken’s day begins before dawn as he works to ensure a sufficient supply of ice cream, beginning with a secret mix which is the basis for all of its flavors.
Her daughter Katherine manages the ice cream shop, with an expansive understanding of each flavor of ice cream, both regular and sugar-free, as well as each float, “blitz,” sundae, soda and other frosty treats.
Ann is quick to look to the future, embracing national trends, and back to the past, to the character and commitment that continues to define the business.
“My father Ernest and his brothers, Frank and John, started the business,” she said. “Their sisters, Edythe and Louise, soon joined them.
“Louise was a staple in the ice cream parlor,” she added. “Edythe did the bookkeeping.”
And, although the business has held fast to its roots — made-from-scratch ice cream served in glass dishes, old-fashioned ice cream parlor ambience, an old-fashioned counter where guests can gather — it has also adapted to new trends both in product and presentation.
“Early on, our staff used to wear white uniforms,” said Sorick. “Now, they wear tie dyed t-shirts which bring color to the ice cream parlor.”
As for flavors, national trends influence the business’ offerings. For example, seasonal flavors such as pumpkin and peppermint were added in response to their popularity.
Kathleen said everyone has favorite flavors and toppings, but her choice is simple.
“My favorite is mint chocolate chip,” she said, smiling.
The Sorick family, which also includes son Kenny, is serious about both business and its commitment to the community.
“It’s truly a family endeavor,” Ann said.
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