The quintessential NJ ice cream place where you might run into surprising guests
If you're looking for a true "Jersey" ice cream place, how about one that has "Jersey" in its name? How about one Bruce Springsteen frequents? How about one that not only serves great ice cream, but burgers, sandwiches and wings as well?
Jersey Freeze is in both Freehold and Holmdel, where they recently expanded.
Some brief history from their webpage:
"Jersey Freeze was founded in 1952 by the Blackmore family. When Jersey Freeze opened its doors, there was mainly ice cream being served in Freehold, NJ. By the 1970s, the restaurant was a go-to spot for fast food and ice cream in the area."
"Katie Dinonno started working at Jersey Freeze as a teen in high school and became a manager quickly after she was working there in the 1990s. In 2014, Katie and Matt purchased the restaurant from Bruce Blackmore, who wanted to retire."
I spoke with co-owner Matt Cangelosi about Springsteen's long history with Jersey Freeze.
"Bruce has been coming in since around 1965-1966 when he was a kid living up the street. He still talks about how the original owner would save all the broken cones for him.
"Currently, we still see him a lot. When he comes he usually comes in bunches, at least a few times a month when he’s around."
And when Bruce comes things happen.
"He tends to come early right when we open around 11 a.m. It’s funny because most of the kids working here now are too young to recognize him just on his appearance. Last summer he came in and forgot his wallet, the 16-year-old girl working the counter had no idea who he was. She took $5 out of her tip jar and paid for his cone (not knowing it was Bruce) The next day he came back with a thank you card and $100 and left it for her. (We didn’t even know this happened. We would never let our kids pay for someone, we would handle it ourselves)."
Then there are the people who know who he is.
"He was here in the fall and a customer sprinted from the lobby, across the parking lot, and knocked on his window to get a picture. The picture wound up on the news. Most of the time it’s a pleasant interaction with customers asking for pictures. However, he’s part of this community and is around often so I think he comes in so much because nobody bothers him and he can enjoy his ice cream cone or shake."
Then there was the Jon Bon Jovi sighting
"Bon Jovi made an appearance in the summer of 2020. We had someone controlling the door and line at that point because of COVID-19 (Matt’s dad Sal) and he said hello to him and got him a table."
Springsteen and Bon Jovi are not the only celebrities who come to Jersey Freeze, as Matt explains:
"I have to say one of our favorites who frequents often has to be Jersey favorite Todd Frazier. He is just the absolute best. He will sit and talk to any kid that comes up to him, take pictures, and give the kids advice. The night of the Freehold fireworks we had a parking lot party and he probably took pictures with, and spoke with 50 kids who still dream of playing big league baseball. He just gets it."
What sets Jersey Freeze apart?
"First, in Freehold, we have a great fast casual restaurant connected to the ice cream parlor. We made a lot of improvements when we took over in 2015. We have awesome burgers, cheesesteaks, wraps, wings, hot dogs, sandwiches, etc. So you no longer have to go eat somewhere else and then come for ice cream. We are a one-stop shop.
"Our soft serve is on another level. The recipes we use go back decades and can’t be duplicated. We offer more soft serve flavors than your typical few that you see everywhere. Customer favorites have become pistachio, banana, and coffee, besides for our classic vanilla or creamsicle.
"We are trying to keep up with the times while keeping that old-school ice cream parlor feel.
"We opened a second location in Holmdel (Bell Works) in 2020, and are still looking to grow.
"Lastly, we are a part of this community. Between the schools, sports teams, our friends, families, etc. We are the local ice cream and burger spot. Places like Applebees call themselves the “neighborhood grill” but they are a corporation based in Kansas. We are this community and we always do our best to support it as well as all of the other true local small businesses."
"And that's what sets Jersey Freeze apart. That, and you never know who may show up."
Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Steve Trevelise only. Follow him on Twitter @realstevetrev.
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