The Alonzi family have been making ice cream since the turn of the last century when they moved from southern Rome to Scarborough. They opened a small bar and had a fleet of barrows and ice cream stands on the beach.
Then, when Yorkshire’s oldest ice cream parlor opened on the August Bank Holiday in 1945, they sold out their entire stock of ice cream and coffee within two hours, earning £48. The milk they used came from the black market in the days of rationing
Now, 78 years later, the Harbor Bar is busier than ever with “camp” coffee (coffee and condensed milk imported during the post-war period) on the menu alongside their traditional knickerbocker glory.
Giulian Alonzi, now 74, ‘works for a living’ as he remains the one-man ice cream factory behind the busy Harbor Bar while his wife Theresa, 64, serves at the front with the others “Canaries” – personnel dressed in yellow uniforms.
Giulian’s equipment can produce 500 liters per hour and it does three or four batches a day
“We went to great lengths to keep the salon exactly as it was,” said Giulian, who started working for his parents and aunt at the Harbor Bar aged 12 before taking the reins in 1984.
The Harbor Bar has always been a pioneer, being one of the first businesses to adopt Formica tables and launch post-war with homemade ice cream made with sugar, powdered milk and milk from local farmers.
When Giulian took over the family business, he knew he wanted to keep the rubber flooring, the yellow and red colors and the fruit stored in jars as a nod to the days when fresh fruit was difficult to find.
“It looks attractive. It always looks clear and clean. Our family used sustainable materials and we kept the main colors. We gradually toned everything down because a glacier wants to be white and seamless,” Giulian said.
While Theresa and Giulian have retained their milk bar roots, Giulian said they were one of the first waterfront cafes to successfully apply for a liquor license and “now everyone has followed suit not”.
The husband and wife duo plan to open a prosecco bar so people can have a beer or a glass of wine with ice cream.
Giulian said, “We have a license to sell alcohol and plan to open the first floor.”
But with the same precision as he creates his ice cream, he is keen to preserve the family atmosphere created by his ancestors.
“We could sell alcohol now in the living room, but it’s a family place and we want that to continue.”
But the prosecco bar will have to wait until the winter months as they didn’t have time to think this summer with the heat wave which caused even more customers than normal to head to the Harbor Bar.
Giulian said: “We had to ask the afternoon staff to come earlier yesterday because we were so busy, Lewis Capaldi canceled his gig but people still had hotels booked.
“Things will slow down when the kids go back to school, but hopefully the weather will continue for people with rising heating bills,” Giulian added.
Secrets of success
The port serves a wide range of ice cream-inspired concoctions such as banana splits, ice cream floats, sundaes, and vegan sorbets.
“The secret is in the taste,” said Giulian, who received a Royal Seal of Approval from the Prince of Wales.
His first choice is knickerbocker glory.
“I’m lucky to be able to do something that I love to do.”
With a mirror image of his mother and aunt still on display, Giulian added that he was constantly reminded who he was doing this for.
“I often think about retirement and I see a lot of friends playing golf.
“But after a lifetime of working at this pace, I can’t suddenly stop,” said Giulian, who considers his job a way of life.
“I owe them,” he said.
Although if the couple retires, it is unclear to whom they will pass the business on.
Giulian added: “We have a very hard working team of staff, people have good incomes and we help the staff as much as possible.”