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How a Watkins Glen store became a landmark

On South Franklin Street in Watkins Glen, The Great Escape Ice Cream Parlor is hard to miss.

The family-run ice cream shop with sunshine yellow paint and royal blue trim has been a town mainstay since 1982 and has welcomed visitors from all 50 states and several different countries.

Inside is an old-fashioned, retro ice cream parlor, with records lining the walls, a pinball machine, a slot machine, and antique spoon spoons.

Behind the shop is the Honsberger family: the original owners, Peter, 77, and Eileen, 75, and their daughter, Jackie, who is co-owner.

Over its 40 years in business, the boutique has gone through a multitude of changes, adapting to its environment during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and finding new ways to serve the Watkins Glen community.

“The Big Yellow Ice Cream Merchant”

Ice cream wasn’t always in the Honsberger family’s plans. Peter Honsberger owned a pig farm in the late 70s and Eileen worked in nursing.

But Peter always wanted to have a fallback option in case the farm didn’t work and he jumped at the chance when the shop – then painted pea green – went up for sale in 1982.

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