Things got a little sweeter for Rye, NY back in 1995. With a second location in Old Greenwich, Longford’s Own-Made Ice Cream quickly became a family favorite—and has remained as such for decades.
With thirty-six flavors in rotation at a given time—like the perennially popular peppermint stick, mud pie, and coffee fudge—Longford’s has been producing ice cream in Port Chester via its wholesale output for almost thirty years now. The modest factory will yield up to 100,000 gallons of ice cream in small batches per year. Creamier than Haagen Dazs or Ben & Jerry’s, Longford’s ice cream has a higher butter content that may be partly responsible for its unparalleled great taste.
However, the uniquely mom-and-pop-style ice cream shop now offers many low fat and fat free frozen yogurts as well as dairy-free sorbets, carrying four of each at all times. All ice creams are gluten and egg free, and there are sugar free pints packed to order. In order to even further accommodate dietary preferences and restrictions, there is also a designated peanut-free case of ice cream in the shop. Longford’s offers the variety and quality of a larger establishment within a more intimate setting.
“Graham Slam,” with graham crackers, vanilla ice cream, and chocolate, is Rye co-owner Christine Vita’s favorite. I sampled it and could see why—although I am hard-pressed to encounter a Longford’s treat I dislike. Vita said “Cookie Monster” (vanilla ice cream dyed blue with chunks of chocolate chip cookies) is the current preferred flavor of children.
Longford’s boasts more than just scoops and shakes, though. They make egg creams and giant banana splits using the largest fruits they can find, two treats no longer typical of most ice cream vendors. The shop also specializes in custom-made ice cream cakes, which can be designed for any occasion. Those purchasing can choose any two flavors and a cookie or fudge center. I didn’t know that three-tiered ice cream cakes were possible, but Longford’s makes it happen! You can also find Longford’s ice cream in country clubs and restaurants across Westchester and Connecticut.
Vita has owned Longford’s of Rye since 1999, but her passion for its ice cream dates back to when she worked at the shop as a Rye Country Day student. She attended the nearby Manhattanville College and was able to continue to work for Longford’s beyond high school.
During the school year, Longford’s is a popular after-school hangout, when many students opt for milkshakes or bags of candy. Summer is a predictably hectic season for Vita and her staff, with groups of kids shuffling in and out of what she described as Longford’s “revolving door.” Rye’s a busy town with heavy foot traffic, and people love retreating from the heat in the inviting shop.
Weekends bring in hoards of families, and Sunday evenings are the busiest night of the week. The winter holidays are also pretty packed, with many customers dropping in for pints and seasonal flavors. The store remains open through the coldest days unless too much snow prevents.
Longford’s adds new flavors every season, which customers often help influence. The wholesale division comes up with a lot of ideas, including the recent hit, caramel sea salt. Lemon pie and Georgia peach are newer summer flavors, and you can expect to see more yogurts popping up in the coming months. Longford’s aspires to meet everyone’s needs by providing an extensive selection of both yogurt and ice cream. Fall will bring seasonal staples like pumpkin ice cream pies and flying saucers.
Vita runs contests where the prize is the power to create your own flavor: the annual summertime block party in Rye features an ice cream eating contest. Next year, the celebrations will be even bigger, shutting down the street to commemorate the twenty-year anniversary at the Elm Place location.
Longford’s gets involved in the surrounding community through participation in other street fairs and by sponsoring sports teams, school events and organizations. Also fun and unique are the theme nights at Longford’s, where a DJ will be on premises and staff will dress in 80’s or Hawaiian luau attire.
Vita places great value on bringing customers together with her tight-knit, affable team, many of whom have worked at Longford’s for a number of years. Some employees are literally family: Vita’s brother Bobby is a co-owner. The Vita siblings take care to employ those who share their congenial nature and fervor for ice cream to round out the family-feel experience for staff and for customers. Even without its exceptional customer service, though, I have a feeling Longford’s incomparable treats would retain customers just fine.