LARCHMONT, N.Y. – Longford’s Ice Cream is celebrating its 20th year, and children are the winners as the company is holding ice-cream eating contests at its three locations. The Port Chester-based company can be found in Rye; Old Greenwich, Conn.; and Larchmont, which is where it held its first ice-cream eating contest Saturday.
Steve Bitondo, operator of the colorful Larchmont ice-cream parlor with his wife, Carol Kinghan, called the contest “a celebration of not only the ownership of this store, but the 20-year celebration.” Bitondo and Kinghan have owned that store for five years.
The contestants, who were selected in a raffle drawing, had three minutes to down a quart of vanilla ice cream with only two chopsticks. The winners were determined by weighing the plates. Each child received a free ice-cream cup or cone coupon, and they were given their remaining ice cream to enjoy. There were two contests, and 13 children participated.
Longford’s owner Patricia West founded the company with her husband, Nolan, because “there was really only the big Häagen Dazs’ of the world” in Port Chester, which is where they lived at the time. She is glad that the company, which now boasts more than 60 ice-cream flavors plus 30 choices of sorbet, gelato and low-calorie yogurt, is thriving thanks to her “loyal customers.”
“People are very loyal to us," West said. "We find that the customers’s children that have grown up with Longford’s over the past 20 years are coming back, and they’re bringing their kids – it’s really amazing." She added that Longford’s is a favorite of college students because “it’s their fond memory to go to Longford’s.”
Bitondo said that for him, it is all about the customers, as he makes sure “not one customer goes out unhappy.”
“You’ve got to take care of the customers,” he said. “This is not a Lake George situation where you have transients coming in, buying ice cream, and you can afford to have people with bad attitudes, a dirty store and inferior ice cream. You can’t have that here. If I lose one customer here, I lose a percentage, and that does not happen here.”
The other ice-cream contests will take place at the Longford’s in Old Greenwich at 5:30 p.m. Friday, June 1, and in Rye, at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, June 10.