For 75 years, Chico’s been returning to Shubert’s
“They were not closed.” Colette scowled. “I know for a fact that they stay open until 10 o’clock. Every night.”
I looked at my watch: 7:15.
She smiled suddenly. “You got lost, didn’t you, little brother? You couldn’t even find Shubert’s. I knew I shouldn’t have let you drive.”
“Sorry,” I said.
“That’s OK. Let’s walk down.”
I thought I was going to get out of it.
It was a balmy, late-spring evening, perfect for a stroll, so we leashed up Miss Marilyn and Mr. Theo and set out. When we got to Shubert’s, the sidewalk was full of families and students munching on cones and spooning ice cream out of cups—on the benches out front, at the two tables, and standing in circles chatting.
“Go ahead,” I said. “I’ll wait out here.”
“Good idea.” She handed me Mr. Theo’s leash. “A pint of Mt. Shasta and a pint of peach?”
I nodded, then tried to lose myself in the crowd.
She came back out a few minutes later, holding the bag of ice cream, and looked at me, clearly suspicious. “So,” she said, “when the clerk was counting my change, she said, ‘Are you with the gentleman in the funny hat?’ ‘Yes,’ I said, ‘Why?’ ‘Oh, he’s one of our favorite customers. In here almost every day. But hardly ever twice in the same evening.’”
“You didn’t get lost at all, did you?”
I shook my head.
“And you’ve already had a bit of ice cream this evening?”
I nodded. “Uh-huh.”
I reached for the bag, pulled out the two pints.
“You ate the two pints you were supposed to bring back to the house?”
“I was just going to taste them. I couldn’t stop.”
She shook her head. “What am I going to do with you?”
I handed her Mr. Theo’s leash. “Eat some ice cream with me? Let’s sit down.”
“No way,” she said. “We’re saving these. Let’s get going before it starts to melt.”
Henri is a huge fan of Shubert’s Ice Cream and Candy (obviously), though the clerk might have been exaggerating a bit. I love their homemade ice cream and have tried most flavors. My favorites, all delicious on waffle cones: chocolate chip, toasted almond, Chico mint (milk chocolate with pieces of Shubert’s green homemade mints), and amaretto, although on occasion the yummy bittersweet chocolate or Mt. Shasta (chocolate ice cream with coconut) call my name.
I also love the feel of the place, like I’ve stepped back in time. The walls are covered with framed screen prints of old-Chico events, including from past Kite Days, Robin Hood Days and Christmas Previews, and an old-timey milkshake maker whirs behind the counter. And the aroma—so sweet the air feels thick.
This year marks Shubert’s 75th anniversary (which it will celebrate by offering 5-cent cones on June 8), founder Leonard Shubert having come to California from Montana in 1938 looking for a spot to open an ice cream parlor. So impressed with the special place that Chico was, he opened the shop on Seventh Street, and then in 1941 hired his nephew, Charles Pulliam Sr., to help out. Pulliam took over the business 10 years later. Fourth-generation Pulliams work at Shubert’s today.
The epitome of a local business, Shubert’s not only makes all its ice cream and most of its candies on the premises, but also uses as many local ingredients as possible—butters, creams, honeys and nuts coming from local farms year round, fruits and berries seasonally.
Shubert’s ice cream cones are $2.45, $3.70 and $4.95 for single, double and triple scoops (add 50 cents for a waffle cone). Handpacked ice cream is $4.50 a pint. Sundaes are $3.50-$5.50.
The venue’s candies include Shubert’s signature mints, plus truffles (not made on site), turtles, fudge and toffee, tantalizingly displayed behind the glass counter and available individually or by the box (a one-pound assorted box is $16.95).
When we got back to the house that night, Colette put the bag in the freezer. “I should probably put a padlock on this door,” she said, shutting it. “I think I have one in a drawer somewhere.”
“Oh, don’t be silly,” I said. “I’m fine,” although my hands were trembling.
Later that night, Henri was having trouble sleeping. Thankfully, no padlock.