Readers Steve H., PK, Molly, and Cris let me know that McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams has opened their second local dessert destination this time choosing to be near the Funk Zone at 120 State Street, directly across the street from Rusty’s Pizza. They had a soft opening on July 12th. This “junior” location offers 16 flavors where the flagship location at 728 State Street offers 32. Creative Director Tom Stanley says they were approached by the Hotel Californian two years about bringing their famous ice cream to lower State Street and the location was built for them. Patio seating will be added in the near future.
McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams was founded by husband and wife, Gordon “Mac” and Ernesteen McConnell, in Santa Barbara, in 1949. They decided to forego the easy route of using artificial ingredients and decided to make their ice creams from scratch. Their goal was to produce “the finest ice creams in the world.” Mac and Ernie spent months developing their own recipes, along with a revolutionary, mechanized version of the European French Pot ice cream-making process. In December, 1950 they opened their first shop. McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams was an immediate success. In time, it became a Santa Barbara institution. For over a decade, customers lined up for Mac & Ernie’s ice creams at the store’s original location, on Mission and State Street where Garrett’s Restaurant is now. In 1962, with Gordon’s passing, Ernesteen sold McConnell’s to local Santa Barbaran, Jim McCoy. Over the next decades, Jim, his wife Jeney, and their family built on Mac and Ernie’s legacy, expanding distribution to new markets in Southern California. In 1975, The McCoys purchased Santa Barbara’s “The Old Dairy” and it became McConnell’s world headquarters – it remains so today – and production was turned over entirely to the making of McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams. In 2012, McConnell’s transitioned to its third generation of family ownership when Santa Barbara husband and wife, Michael Palmer and Eva Ein took the reins. The Ein-Palmers were soon joined by Pennsylvania dairy-industry-veteran Charley Price, who helped lead McConnell’s in a major renovation project. The Old Dairy’s decades-old systems were overhauled and replaced with state-of-the-art freezers and ice cream-making equipment. In 2013, McConnell’s returned to where things all started, when the flagship McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams’ store opened on State Street.