During the 1960s and 70s in the Pacific Northwest, the ultimate birthday party was going to Farrell’s Original Ice Cream Parlor. And it made no difference whether you were 7 or 70 years old.
Nothing could beat the bell-ringing and drum-pounding that started the parade around the restaurant. And if you were lucky enough to be celebrating your birthday, a huge ice cream sundae – big enough for a small army – would be put in front of you followed by more bell-ringing, drum-pounding and everyone singing “Happy Birthday.” Nothing beat going to Farrell’s for your birthday.
The marketing genius behind all this chaos – Bob Farrell – was born and raised in Brooklyn but the Air Force sent him to a radar station in the Pacific Northwest. He stayed out west, went to college and gained some real-world experience and then opened the first Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlor in 1963.
His success grew until there were 130 shops when he sold out 10 years later in 1973 to Marriott. Farrell stayed with Marriott for another dozen years but left to co-found the Stanford’s and Newport Bay restaurant chain, finally retiring from the restaurant trade in 1995.
But Farrell couldn’t stop preaching his brand of customer service. He found a ready and willing audience for his pitch and went on the road consulting for the likes of Nike, Nordstrom and Safeway. And he was still at it until shortly before he passed away on August 14 at 87 years old.
There’s no better story than hearing Bob Farrell explain why you must “Give ’em the Pickle.” Give it a listen. You’ll love it. And you’ll probably want to give some pickles to your friends, neighbors, employees and customers.
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