Dish It Up: ‘In an ice cream store, people are happy’


The grind of having to meet daily deadlines at work lead to burnout for Patti Finnegan, who decided operating a scoop shop would be a better pace of life. So, she put together a business plan and when she caught wind that a decades-old ice cream shop in National City was in need of a new owner curiosity set in.

That National City institution, which was at the time a mere 47 years old, was Niederfrank’s Ice Cream. Founded by brothers Elmer and Ed, the shop had been churning out the frozen treat in the same fashion since opening its doors in 1948. After the second set of shop owners decided to hang up their hats, they wanted to make sure that whoever took over would honor that age-old process.

Enter Finnegan and partner Mary Ellen Faught. The pair took over in 1995 and, along with an ice cream making machine over a hundred years old, continued using Niederfrank’s original recipes and methods to make batches of ice cream with all natural ingredients 10-gallons at a time.

Marking 70 years this year, Niederfrank’s continues to serve South Bay residents, plus scores of dutiful fans from around the county and as far away as the Philippines.

Finnegan recently sat down to record an episode of Dish It Up and talked about making ice cream the “old fashioned way” and other topics including:

  • Stepping into Niederfrank’s
  • Making ice cream the “old fashioned way”
  • All natural ingredients made or mixed on site
  • Same recipes from 50-60 years ago still available
  • Equipment that stands the test of time
  • Hand crafting every single flavor
  • 48 ice creams with rotating seasonal flavors
  • Wholesale clients that include Stone Brewing, South Park Brewing and Vinaka Cafe
  • Staying true to what you do
  • What does it take to make a batch
  • Trying to keep prices steady
  • Shopping the global market for ingredients
  • Former President of the Philippines, Fidel Ramos, is a big fan
  • Spanish Village ice cream cart during summers supports artists

Dish It Up is a collaboration between PACIFIC and Facebook group Eating and Drinking In San Diego.

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726 A Ave., National City,

Instagram: @niederfranksicecream

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