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Farrell's ice cream parlor never made it to Medford

My friend said there used to be a Farrell's ice cream in Medford on Riverside, maybe near Fourth or Sixth street. I don't remember any Farrell's in Medford. I remember Larry's, A&W, Jack's, Dell's and Denny's on Riverside, but no ice cream parlor.

Can you find out and let us know who's right?

— James P., Medford

The first Farrell's Ice Cream Parlour Restaurant, known for its vibrant 1920s themes and un-orderable joke menu items such as "Bee's Knees" and "Mosquito Knuckles," started in Portland in 1963 and rapidly expanded across the country as a de facto birthday spot in the early 1970s, but never to Medford, we can confirm.

Younger readers may remember the chain from the 1989 film "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure," in which the time-traveling dimwits bring the great Napoleon to a modern day Simi Valley, California, parlor and decorate the French military leader with a button for completing his ice cream-eating challenge.

The company expanded after the Marriott Corporation bought the chain in the early 1970s, but after scouring our library of 1970s phone books and Polk directories, we can confirm the only business with the name of Farrell's between 1970 and 1979 is the auto glass shop that has been open for more than six decades now.

That's not to say Medford didn't have an ice cream parlor during the 1970s. Ruling out drive-in and soft-serve spots and the ice cream parlor inside the former K-Mart, it is possible your friend remembers the short-lived Mr. Candy Maker's Ice Cream Parlour, listed in the yellow pages from 1976 through 1978 at 844 S. Riverside Ave.

That's a little south of 10th Street, and these days the address is for a Quik Check payday loan spot. We don't have much info on why the little ice cream shop with the long name didn't make it. Mail Tribune archive searches didn't yield any results about the former business. 

As for the rest of Farrell's story, Marriott sold the chain to private investors in the early 1980s, and the chain's 120 locations dwindled to a handful by 1990. The original Portland shop closed in 2001, and the last original location closed in Eugene a decade ago after soldiering on as an independent shop. The company has a website showing only one location in Brea, California.

— Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. To see a collection of columns, go to mailtribune.com/youasked. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.