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Hometown Eats: Salem Ice Cream Parlor

Published: Apr. 28, 2022 at 5:23 PM EDT
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SALEM, Va. (WDBJ) - “The thing I really, really like about the ice cream business is people come in and they’re smiling and when they leave, they’re smiling a little bit more,” said Salem Ice Cream Parlor owner Joe McNamara.

McNamara and his family have been in the ice cream game nearly three decades and he’s been smiling the entire time.

“It’s been a long time, but it’s been an awful lot of fun,” joked McNamara.

And fun is what you get when you step into the Salem Ice Cream parlor, or Joe’s little scoop of Key West for the last 17 years. Toucans, parrots, bright colors from the walls to the ceiling to the 40 ice cream flavors.

“Our ice creams have a lot of things in them, like our moose tracks, which has vanilla base ice cream with a chocolate swirl, Reeses peanut butter cup and chocolate chips. Peanut butter ice cream which has peanut butter swirl and a chocolate base ice cream. Whatever your heart’s desire,” said McNamara.

However, this parlor is more than just the scoops of love and milkshakes. You can get a hot sandwich or soup from Flamingo Joe’s deli. You’ll notice all the names of the sandwiches keep in character with the Key West theme.

Over the years Joe has seen customers young and old, and come from near and far. He says they love the flavors and fun colors. He says people make a point to go into the business when they’re in town.

“Every time people come into Salem or Roanoke or anywhere near we’re stopping in and getting an ice cream or we’re getting that great soup my wife makes,” McNamara said proudly.

Joe prides himself on a customer first mentality and it’s a business model he will soon pass onto his son, Joey.

“My son started working for us when he was 14 and now, he’s 30 and will be taking over the business, so it’s going to stay in the family and we’re going to continue to make smiles for folks,” said McNamara.

He didn’t give an exact date when Joey would become the new operator of the Salem Ice Cream Parlor, but Joe did make it clear he isn’t going to fully retire down to Key West.

“I don’t think retirement is the right word, but 6, 7 days a week especially in the summertime, I think the younger folks can handle that a little better than I can.” joked McNamara.

Salem Ice Cream Parlor and Flamingo Joe’s Deli, a hometown eat serving up scoops, soups, and smiles.

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