It has been a cultural landmark in the Melbourne Florida area for more than 50 years and now Del’s Freeze of Melbourne is back open after a short closing for remodeling. Delbert and Doris Schmadel opened what used to be known as the Tasty Freeze at 402 N Harbor City Blvd (US 1) back in, get this, 1956. The Tasty Freeze name was kept for 30 years under the franchise and was changed to Del’s Freeze back around 1986.
What is remarkable about this tiny ice cream shop is that while many restaurants of its type such as Dairy Queen, Der Wienerschnitzel and Italian Ice shacks have come and gone over the years, Del’s has stood the test of time and has been open for an astounding 55 years. I don’t know of any other business in the Melbourne Palm Bay area that has been open for that long.
At Del’s you will find a variety of ice cream treats such as custom layered parfaits (used to be my favorite), sundae’s and freezes and their famous chili dogs, but what really made Del’s Freez world famous is their soft serve ice cream. They brought soft serve ice cream to the Melbourne Florida Brevard County area before any of us even knew what soft serve was. We came to the Melbourne area back in 1967 and the first time I saw that huge machine pumping out ice cream, and then it got dipped in dark liquid chocolate, I thought I was in heaven. The machine looked like a throttle on a rocket ship, and it served ice cream, amazing!
The new Del’s Freeze – Super clean, repaved, repainted and remodeled. Nice!
And now for some trivia about Del’s you may not know. After talking with owners Lisa Pope and her son Chris they let me know that they serve lots of customers and lots and lots of ice cream. An average day sees some 400 to 500 orders taken, with some orders being 5 or 6 items and they serve between 200 to 300 gallons of soft serve ice cream a week. Some of the favorite items on the menu are banana splits and Freezies and here’s a really cool bit of trivia, back in the early 1970’s for 2 years when it was still a Tasty Freeze and there were some 1,600 locations, they were the number 1 Tasty Freeze soft serve location in the world. That’s right they served more soft serve ice cream than any other Tasty Freeze location on the planet. You probably didn’t know they were that famous did you?
Now that we’ve covered Del’s history how about some nostalgia. During my high school years from 1976 to 1978 at Melbourne High after football games or after going to a movie at the old Palms Theater (anyone remember that?) it was a custom to go to Del’s (it was actually still Tasty Freeze at the time) afterwords and get some kind of delicious ice cream concoction and either debrief on the football game or whatever ridiculous teenage level movie we had just seen. And for years after that we would always stop by for an occasional treat with friends or for a quick lunch of a couple of chili dogs (which I no longer eat). And the amazing thing during all this time and still up to now is that Del’s has always had a waiting line and we were in fact thankful if we got there on a Friday night and there were only 4 or 5 people in front of us.
Through multiple hurricanes, recessions, layoffs at the Cape, theater and drive in theater closings, widenings of US 1 and probably other hardships I haven’t mentioned, somehow Del’s has managed to not only stay open, but have a booming business as well. It is without a doubt the most famous ice cream shop in Brevard County and may be the most famous one in all of Florida.
For all who haven’t visited Del’s in some time and for all who have been waiting for the remodel to be finished, the good news is, Del’s is now reopened! So, everyone jump in the station wagon…oh wait…mini van and head down to Del’s Freeze in Melbourne on US1 and as always, be prepared to wait in line. It will be worth it.
Thanks goes out to the Date Night Chef for alerting me that Del’s had reopened.