Bob Farrell, a showman who channeled his entrepreneurial spirit into the trend-setting Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlour chain, died on Friday. He was 87.
Farrell had switched from restaurateur to motivational speaker after selling the then-55-unit Farrell’s to Marriott Corp. in 1973. He also served as a spokesman for the chain for years afterward.
Farrell’s was eventually sold to investors, who tweaked the concept to make it more of a restaurant and less of an ice cream parlor. It subsequently went bankrupt.
The influence of Farrell’s can be seen in concepts ranging from TGI Fridays to the eater-tainment segment. Servers were dressed in Gay Nineties outfits and offered such tableside showmanship as lugging an oversized signature selection, The Zoo, to patrons in a special hauler. They would chant, ring bells and indulge other elements of showmanship.
After Farrell’s all but disappeared in the 1990s, rights to the name changed hands several times. The current owners, Parlour Enterprises, intend to open restaurants again.