62 Days of Summer
Charles “Skip” Guptill Jr. keeps the lights on late at his family business.
“We don’t close until the last customer is served,” said Guptill, who owns Guptill’s Coney Express on Route 9 in the town of Colonie. “We don’t turn anybody away.”
Most people in the mood for summer banana splits, ice cream cones and dishes of strawberry and butter pecan don’t wait for last call. On warm days and evenings — when rain and thunderstorms are absent and the dinner hour has ended — customers show up for cold relief at seven service windows — an eighth window will open next spring.
The ice cream business has been open since 1995 and is part of Skip’s larger business, Guptill’s Arena, the world’s largest indoor roller-skating arena, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.
The Guptill legacy in Albany County began in 1931, when Skip’s father, Charles Guptill Sr., a farmer, contractor and
International Harvester dealer, opened an ice cream shop on Route 9 at Boght Road. Vanilla was the only flavor served; servings cost a dime.
Guptill Sr. opened his big money business in 1950. Guptill’s Arena attracted roller skaters all year, but summer people are more interested in shakes and sundaes than skates on Sunday. Guptill Jr. said people appreciate the quality of his homemade ice cream.
“You get a better mix, you get a better milk fat,” he said.
“Mr. Fuccillo comes up here all the time to get his ice cream,” Guptill added, talking about customer and extravagant car dealer Billy Fuccillo. “When he orders a banana split, he tells the girls, ‘That’s huge!’ ”
The business sells equal amounts of soft and hard ice cream, and the 70-flavor roster includes cherry vanilla, mint chocolate chip, black raspberry and banana. Chocolate and vanilla are still major choices, as are flavor combinations. So are toppings, such as candy chunks, nuts, coconut and peach pieces.
Guptill believes people also like the parking. He has space for about 350 cars in front of the ice cream store and skating arena, and room for another 650 or so on the 25-acre complex.
A large field on the side of the ice cream building — next to dozens of blue metal tables with blue and white metal umbrellas — gives kids a chance to run and play in the grass.
Shenendehowa students Lindsey Decker, 17, and Carly Hildenbrandt, 16, were on chocolate and vanilla cone kicks and licks during a recent Express exercise.
“It’s refreshing, cools you down,” Decker said.
Amber Pollei of North Colonie was on a group ice cream mission with family and friends. She tried to convince her daughter Tessa, 15 months, to sample some ice cream. Tessa declined, but sister and brother Zoe and Dane, ages 6 and 5, respectively, needed no persuasion.
“We love it,” Pollei said. “This is so close. We love the atmosphere, and there are places for the kids to walk around and sit.”
Guptill’s is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays.
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