Applegate Farm: Serving Sweet Scoops of Ice Cream in Montclair Since 1848

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Applegate Farm is a piece of Montclair history, and maybe your family’s too. Applegate Farm opened in 1848 and has managed to stand the test of time, becoming one of the largest ice cream retailers on the East Coast. Located at 616 Grove Street, it’s also the site of many Montclair families’ special outings, celebrations, or just enjoying a summer night and a scoop. As the business edges closer to its monumental 175th anniversary, it continues to innovate, and provide some of the most delicious ice cream available. Read on to learn more about Applegate Farms, a staple in Montclair. 

The Story

Applegate Farm

(Photo credit: @applegatefarmic)

While Applegate Farm’s story stretches back into the 1800s, its modern history really began in 1980 when Betty Vhay became the storied farm’s owner. Betty married Wayne Niles in 1991, and the two presided over Applegate for several more years.

Enter Jason Street.

Now 52, Jason was a college student in 1991 when he attended his Aunt Betty and Uncle Wayne’s wedding. It was a casual conversation with his aunt that would set him on the path he’s been on since. 

Seeing as Jason was pursuing a business degree, Aunt Betty wasn’t content to see him simply go back to lifeguarding in the summers: she had something different in mind for him. Jason spent his summers and holidays learning the ropes at Applegate.

“[I began by] Coming down in May,” said Jason, “by the time we got to the middle of July, I’d learned how to make ice cream, I learned how to deal with all the accounting, serving customers, delivering ice cream to restaurants in the local area.”

Read More: APEM Creamery: Purveyor of Unique Frozen Treats in Bloomfield

After working at Applegate for some time, Jason’s Aunt and Uncle felt comfortable enough to leave the business in his hands while went to Maine for two weeks. They ended up buying land there for what was to be a summer home, and Jason worked 90+ hours a week.

“It was intense,” said Jason. “You see how busy it gets at Applegate, it could be intense in the summer.” Despite the challenges, Jason was proving himself quite capable of running a business. “I got to the point where I was pretty much running the business from A to Z,” said Jason.

But Jason felt a pull towards continuing his education. He drafted up a move-out notice and set out on the somewhat uncomfortable task of breaking the news of his impending departure to his Aunt and Uncle. But once again, Aunt Betty had something else in mind.

Applegate Farm

(Photo credit: @applegatefarmic)

As Jason began to sit his dear relatives down, his Uncle cast a knowing glance at his Aunt, saying, “I think you should talk to him.”Instead of accepting his move-out notice, Jason’s Aunt instead asked him to buy the property – a proposition which baffled Jason at the time.

“I’ll be honest with you, Aunt Betty,” said Jason. “I’m straight out of college with college loans. I don’t have any idea how I’m going to be able to afford it.”

Of course, Aunt Betty had thought of this, and proposed for him to take over, pay her monthly, and live in the house, all while taking the reins of the business. Jason asked a friend, who promptly advised him that at such a young age, he didn’t have much to lose – and so, he accepted the offer in 1994.

Jason took over and began building the business. He hired high school and college kids to help out, but he himself mowed the massive lawn (a four-hour task) and painted buildings.  end of 1999, Jason had doubled Applegate’s sales. 

With Applegate already having such a strong foundation in the community, Jason quickly turned his gaze outward. While the ice cream was well-known, Street wanted to make use of the farm’s massive plot of land for Montclair’s families. Under Jason’s guidance, Applegate has proudly hosted a number of community events, from Oktoberfest with free pumpkins for kids, to beach parties for customers where Jason hauled in truckloads of sand – not to mention the famous Family Fun Nights.

The Ice Cream

Applegate Farm

(Photo credit: @applegatefarmic)

Applegate Farm boasts an impressive 60+ flavors at all times. The menu offers sugar-free varieties, Italian ices, and sherbets – with watermelon sherbert being a fan favorite.

But it’s Applegate’s ice cream and low-fat yogurt that keep people coming back. Black Raspberry Chocolate Chip is a particularly popular flavor of yogurt that leaves customers wanting more. 

Applegate Farm

(Photo credit: @applegatefarmic)

The unique ice cream flavors are where Applegate really shines. Graham Central Station is a sweet graham cracker flavored ice cream with chocolate graham cracker pieces, a flavor featured perfectly in the popular S’mores Sundae.

All of Applegate’s ice cream is homemade, with some of the recipes dating back decades.“We’ve been using the same recipes for a lot of our flavors since they were written down on old recipe cards,” said Jason. “I still have them with rubber bands wrapped around them.”

Applegate Farm

(Photo credit: @applegatefarmic)

While flavors are rotated in and out, some flavors prove to have more staying power. Cappuccino Crunch, a delicious cappuccino ice cream with chocolate-covered espresso beans, started out for a limited time but ended up in the permanent rotation.

“We take pride in putting out a quality product,” said Jason. “Without our customers, we just wouldn’t be there.”

applegate farm

(Photo credit: @applegatefarmic)

The ice cream can be pre-ordered for pickup, or delivered via DoorDash within a certain radius from the Farm. The Farm also hosts birthday parties, corporate events, and field trips. There are seasonal special events like Oktoberfest.

applegate farm

(Photo credit: @applegatefarmic)

Additionally, the farm churns out special seasonal treats like famous apple cider donuts, pies, cookies, ice cream sandwiches, candy, and more.

See More: Il Laboratorio del Gelato Opens in Montclair

COVID-19

applegate farm

(Photo credit: @applegatefarmic)

When the pandemic hit, Jason bought several old whiskey barrels cordoned off the whole front of the store so that customers could line up and maintain a safe social distance. It was important to Jason that Applegate remained a safe, fun place for families.

“It’s a place to create memories,” said Jason. “When they come to Applegate, they can take a step back in time.”

“Come create some more memories at Applegate farm.” 

Visit the Applegate Farm website or Instagram account to stay up to speed on the latest events and special flavors.


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