Business Monday

A look at Jaxson’s, the whimsical ice cream shop celebrating its 60th anniversary

Jaxson's in Dania Beach is a well-known ice cream parlor celebrating its 60th year in business this month.
Jaxson's in Dania Beach is a well-known ice cream parlor celebrating its 60th year in business this month. emichot@miamiherald.com

Name of the company: Jaxson’s Ice Cream Parlour, Restaurant and Country Store, Inc.

Headquarters in: Dania Beach, at 128 S. Federal Highway.

What it is: It’s a restaurant and country store featuring ice cream made on the premises using recipes developed by founder Monroe Udell. It also offers homemade corned beef and pastrami sandwiches, salads, burgers, hot dogs, steaks, chicken and wraps. Jaxson’s has a whimsical carnival atmosphere: The store’s interior sports hundreds of old license plates dating back to 1912, for instance, as well as photos and antiques.

How it began: As Linda Udell Zakheim tells it in an email:

“Monroe Udell moved to South Florida in 1947 after learning to make ice cream in New York in order to work in the family business, a restaurant on Hollywood Beach. That year, a Category 4 hurricane struck Fort Lauderdale, and Monroe saw the storm surge flood as far west as U.S. 1 in Hollywood. He never forgot that sight — thus the location on the west side of U.S. 1.

“This happened before the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and when Monroe opened for business, he was told not to hire any African Americans since the restaurant only had one set of restrooms. Monroe’s true character was revealed when he hired his first employee — a black woman who helped him prepare the food.

“When Monroe opened the door to Jaxson’s in 1956, the going rate for an ice cream cone was a nickel. Monroe had created a formula for his ice cream mix that was better than any he had tasted. While a dime was a lot to charge at the time, he was confident the quality of the product and the size of the portions would keep people coming back. He had something there, apparently, because we now have generations of customers who keep coming back for more.”

Management team: Zakheim, Monroe’s daughter, is the owner; general manager Jerry Smith; kitchen manager Mark Arnold.

Number of employees: 70

Sales: The company released numbers for one of its best-selling items — the Hot Fudge Sundae, which sells for $9.25: 2014: $147,200; 2015: $151,200; 2016 (projected): $162,400.

Website: jaxsonsicecream.com

Products and services: Food, nostalgic toys, candy and ice cream, most notably the “Kitchen Sink” sundae — an enormous ice cream creation served in a kitchen sink. These are sold at Jaxson’s Ice Cream Parlour, a brick-and-mortar store. Jaxson’s is also one of the top retailers in South Florida of Ty Inc. plush toys.

Among the company’s clients: “Name someone. Anyone. They are our clients,” Zakheim says.

Competitors: Dairy Belle Ice Cream at 118 N. Federal Hwy, Dania Beach, is nearby; Sloan’s (which has locations in Boca Raton and Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, among others) and The Magic Cow in Davie are among the half-dozen or so other Broward ice cream parlors also known for their atmosphere and “fun factor.” “While we aren’t aware of anyone who does exactly what we do, our biggest competitors are neighborhood ice cream shops, as they attract customers out of convenience and location — but they don’t offer the nostalgic feel, longstanding recipes and full menu that Jaxson’s provides,” Zakheim said.

Milestones:

2014:

▪ In February: Among the first small businesses to change its minimum wage to $10.10 — a move mentioned multiple times by President Barack Obama.

▪ In June: Founder Monroe Udell’s death; his daughter Linda Udell Zakheim took over the business.

2016:

▪ Ranked No. 1 restaurant in Dania Beach by TripAdvisor.

▪ In November: Celebrating 60th anniversary of founding.

Recognitions: Over the years, the restaurant has received many awards, including having received the “keys to the city” in Dania Beach and Hollywood, and much media coverage. Monroe Udell Street in Dania Beach is named after the founder. Jaxson’s has helped raise thousands of dollars for Joe DiMaggio Children’s hospital and has sponsored a patient emergency room there.

Major key to success: “Even though times have changed dramatically since the restaurant has opened, we are fighting to keep everything at Jaxson’s the same as people remember from their very first visit,” Zakheim said. “No matter what is happening in the world, our customers find comfort in good ice cream, and Jaxson’s success depends on our ability to provide that comfort, in addition to creating an entire user experience. Additionally, our takeout window offerings make it accessible and affordable for all families to enjoy our menu.”

Another key to the company’s success is keeping Jaxson’s in the family. Before his passing, Monroe’s daughter and current owner Linda promised him that she would keep Jaxson’s alive and vowed to never make any changes that compromised his dream and vision.

Strategy for next steps: Maintaining infrastructure, as well as continuity. Recently, the refrigerators and freezers, lighting, air-conditioning, bathrooms and kitchen were replaced and improved.“We must continue to make these necessary improvements to enhance the experience of our customers for generations to come,” Zakheim said.

Rory Clarke

If you have a candidate for Small Business Spotlight, please email rclarke@miamiherald.com. Companies must be willing to disclose revenues and have recently accomplished a significant milestone in their development.

  Comments