The History Anorak

The History Anorak

Monday, 1 February 2016

Eat up, it's good for you!

Close to the fish pier on Scarborough's foreshore is Alonzi's Harbour Bar, a bright yellow, plastic and chrome confection that reflects the style of the ice creams it serves.

The Alonzi family moved to Scarborough from Southern Italy at the end of the nineteenth century and opened an ice cream business that ran a fleet of barrows serving day trippers and holidaymakers on the beach. In creative business style they charged a penny a portion to customers near the harbour (where the poor people went) but tuppence a scoop to the ones near the Spa (the 'posh' end of town!).

After WW2 the family opened The Harbour Bar, right on the foreshore, close to the lighthouse and fish piers, and near the penny arcades. In the 1950s the shop was refitted as a 'milk bar' style cafe, which is still its look today.

There's plenty to show its origins, not least the back-lit plastic panels exhorting customers to eat ice cream regularly for the good of their health. These were different times, and such claims as 'nutritious' could be made without any evidence at all. (Even cigarettes were advertised as 'recommended by your dentist' back then.)

Something not found in any of the other seafront cafes is a tower of bottled fruit, a reminder of the days when fresh fruit was hard to find, and an ice cream sundae was one of the few ways to get one of your 'five a day'. Perhaps the health claims were not so far-fetched after all.

The current owner is the third generation of the Alonzi family to run the business. According to the company website he was born in the flat over the cafe.

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Why not add your two pennyworth?