Welcome to Sno-Cream, arguably Africa’s oldest ice cream parlour.
Walking into the shop, you can’t help but notice the early American style decor evident in the yellow and white wall tiles and countertops.
There is also an antique clock on one of the establishment’s pillars and some seemingly old wall paintings that tell the history of the joint.
The roof of the shop has an old wooden finishing and the seats too tell you that little has changed over the decades. However, the new ice cream machines add a taste of novelty to the shop.
Miriam Wanjiru has been working at Sno-Cream for two years. She says she only hears stories from customers about how old the shop is.
“I hear the shop was opened in 1952. I wasn’t even born yet,” says Wanjiru.
According to the staff, Sno-Cream was opened 68 years ago by a white man but was later sold to an Indian in the 1960s. It has since remained a family business.
The shop sells a wide range of affordable ice cream products, which have been on the menu for years. Most of their products — from the ice cream to the cone — are made from scratch at the shop.
For his part, Jethro Mwangi has been an employee at the shop in Nairobi CBD for over a year.
“We have a lot for our customers, starting from soft ice cream, the simple one, cone; we have the cups, baby cups, junior cups and the sprinkles. We also have the chocolate chips, chocolate deep and nuts, caramel deep, sundae splits and also ice cream shakes,” Mwangi offers.
He believes that the secret behind the business is staying original over the decades. He, however, adds that bad weather affects the number of customers who frequent the shop.
“During rainy seasons there is low customer turnout,” says Mwangi.
To date, elderly and youthful customers still flock the shop. Most of them have remained loyal to the parlour as the go-to joint for ice cream over the years.
While many Nairobi residents have brewed their love inside the parlour, family bonds have also been strengthened there.
“I’ve been coming here since the 80s when we were kids with both my parents and my younger sister,” says one customer.
“I am a frequent customer of Sno-Cream since campus days. It’s been like 10 years,” says another customer.
Most customers are thrilled that the shop has retained its original decor and ice cream flavours. The shop’s employees say that customers have always asked them not to refurbish the shop.
“This place is nostalgic. It was the only place that we would come to for ice cream straight from the Holy Family Basilica and our folks would bring us here for ice cream,” says Anthony Muturi, a customer.
“The authenticity of the ice cream here has never changed. The flavours are still the same and so is the ambience. It has that vintage vibe going on,” says Lynette, also a customer.
Today, Sno-Cream has three more shops in Nairobi with a total of eight employees. They are trying to adapt to the changing times by offering delivery services and making it possible for customers to make orders online.
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