The temperatures on this July afternoon were nearing triple digits, but the two little boys inside Nellie Bly’s Ice Cream Parlour on Main Street couldn’t care less.
As they both licked and slurped from their chocolate ice cream cones, they wore the look of summertime contentment—as well as some drippings from their cones.
If for some reason you’ve missed the chance to gorge on an ice cream treat at this old-time salon, you are officially in small company.
Maureen Brzycki was hired as a manager a couple of years ago to work at the store by the former owners, Maureen and Mark Miller, family friends of Brzycki.
“Maureen and Mark had a passion for fun summer restaurants, reminiscent of days that they've spent at their home outside Wildwood. They wanted to bring that feeling to Riverton,” says Brzycki, 25.
So the Millers opened the dessert shop in 2006, but after three years, took a step back and decided to sell it.
In any case, Brzycki, who is also a court reporter for Magna Legal Services in Philadelphia, had become charmed by the vintage store, and thought she could reliably keep the scoopers full.
She bought the business in 2009 and hasn’t looked back.
Sitting just off the corner of Main and Broad, the pink-and-white-faced shop has box windows displaying doll-size wicker furniture and usually some tidings of the season.
Inside the Victorian-themed parlour is like a step back in time.
The room glitters with vintage pendant lights that hang over the old-fashioned ice cream counter and bar stools, where patrons can marvel at servers dishing out the frosty. Jazzy tables and chairs are set up over the black-and-white-tiled flooring.
And then there’s the train.
Chugging along a track suspended from the ceiling is an antique Pennsylvania Railroad locomotive in honor of the cafe’s namesake.
Nellie Bly was an innovator in the field of investigative journalism, exposing the mistreatment of the mentally ill. But her most publicized reporting stunt was an account of her 24,899-mile journey around the world, which she completed in 72 days by both ship and train, beginning in New York City on Nov. 14, 1889, and ending back in Manhattan’s port on Jan. 25, 1890.
“There also was a train that ran through Riverton years ago that was named after Nellie," says Brzycki, who lives in Palmyra with her husband, Joseph, 30. "It’s a sweet honor to her."
Brzycki's ice cream parlour sells Richman’s Ice Cream in the ever-popular flavors like chocolate, vanilla and strawberry, along with 25 other flavors. They offer nonfat, sugar-free and nondairy. The shop also makes traditional ice cream specialties like banana splits, milkshakes and sundaes.
“But the most popular treats with the kids are the skookie and the skrownie,” she says, of the freshly baked cookies and brownies smothered with ice cream and served warm.
Brzycki says the shop hosts its share of birthday parties, events for some of the town's sports teams, and they've had a couple of bridal showers, as well.
“We’ll set up a sundae bar, or we will do a belgian waffle bar. It’s very popular.”
The seasonal restaurant opens March 1. “And even though we officially close on Oct. 30, we're here on Halloween, giving out free coupons for the next season,” Brzycki says.
The classic ice cream fountain room is many things to the locals—a short bike ride after work, a meet up for the neighborhood kids, or an evening stroll for the young-at-heart.
“It’s a lot of hard work, but I love it.”