Leopold’s ice cream melts just enough to truly taste the flavors. The secret could be the cream they use. Leopold’s is very picky about their cream. Or maybe it’s the premium local ingredients, like honey from the Savannah Bee Company they mix into the ice cream. Or perhaps, it’s the small batches, Leopold’s Ice Cream is made five gallons at a time, all by hand. Whatever it is, a trip to Savannah, Ga. wouldn’t be complete without a stop here. It’s good enough to wait in a line that snakes around the block.
Why we Love Leopold’s Ice Cream Parlor
We arrived early, about 11:15 am, but the line was already cascading out the door. By the time we came back at 11:30 am, it was down the street. We glanced down at the shop during our ghost tour around 10 pm and it was the same thing. You want to get the timing just right for your visit to Leopold’s Ice Cream, Savannah’s iconic ice cream parlor. Perhaps mid-day during the week is best.
Even Hollywood Stars Love Leopold’s Ice Cream
I’m an ice cream fanatic, so even amidst the many wonderful restaurants in Savannah, Leopold’s ice cream store was a highlight. Meeting Stratton Leopold the owner and son of one of the founders made the afternoon even more exciting.
Leopold left the business for a while to make his way in Hollywood. You’ll see photos of some movie stars he’s worked with on the wall. I asked him if any of them were ice cream lovers. He said Tom Cruise. He once had to ship ice cream to New York so they could put it on his jet headed for London. Ice cream melts when it has to go through customs.
Leopold’s Ice Cream: Where the Locals Go
Leopold’s isn’t just a tourist destination. If you’ve spent any time in Savannah, chances are you have a story about Leopold’s and probably a favorite flavor too. Old-timer’s don’t wait in the line. Stratton lets his regulars in the back door. Musician Johnny Mercer loved the Tutti Frutti flavor, me not so much. Tutti Frutti, Rum Bisque and Lemon Custard are Leopold’s Signature flavors.
Leopold’s also does seasonal and special flavors that are available for a short time. We just missed the Thin Mints and Cream season, but the Honey Almond & Cream was a fabulous choice, it’s also Stratton’s current favorite. Jackie, the ice cream chef experiments with new flavors all the time, and Stratton tastes every one before it goes into the store.
Leopold’s Makes Ice Cream A Local Affair
Savoring a cone from Leopold’s often means enjoying other Savannah delicacies. Chewies & Cream uses chocolate chewies from Gottlieb Bakery. When the bakery went out of business, the owners taught Leopold’s how to make the treats so they could continue making the ice cream. Good news for Gottlieb Bakery fans, they are re-opening their store this summer.
In addition to Gottlieb chocolate chewies, Leopold’s also uses Savannah Bee Company honey, and Georgia pecans. Even local pooches aren’t left out, they get a free dog sundae when their owner buys a cone. The dog sundae is made with Ollie B. Biscuits. The biscuits come from premium pet treat maker and Savannah shop Oliver Bentleys. There was a dog outside waiting in line as I passed with my ice cream cone. He obviously knew the drill. As soon as his saw the cone, he obediently sat, never taking his ice off the prize.
Where to Find Leopold’s Without Waiting in Line
If you don’t want to wait in line at Leopold’s Ice Cream parlor, you can still enjoy some delicious Leopold’s ice cream on your next visit to Savannah. They often work with local establishments to create a signature flavor just for them. Here are a few places you can get Leopold’s Ice Cream beyond the shop
- Five Oaks Taproom at the Hotel Indigo
- The Westin Savannah Harbor
- 700 Drayton @ The Mansion on Forsyth Park
- The Grey
- 39 Rue De Jean
- Paris Markt
- Cohen’s Retreat
And as luck would have it, Leopold’s now delivers nationwide!
A True Family Business
Leopold’s Ice Cream was started in 1919 by three immigrant brothers from Greece: George, Peter and Basil Leopold. Stratton Leopold is Peter’s youngest child. He grew up in the business, living over the store as a child and taking it over as an adult. Even the lure of Hollywood couldn’t keep him away for long.
For a man who has worked among stars and is a bonafied star himself in Savannah, Stratton Leopold is remarkably humble. After serving a few customers behind the counter, he showed me how to make a proper ice cream float. We retreated to a table where he had a full view of the store.
As I enjoyed his creation, he sat back and shook his head at the line still snaking around the building after almost two hours. “I often wonder what my father would think about all this,” he said. I think he’d be proud.