2018-03-29 / Front Page

For sale: Garside’s land, stand and brand

By Abigail Worthing
Staff Writer


Eric Pendleton is on a mission to find the perfect buyer for his family’s business. The Pendleton family has owned Garside’s Ice Cream on Ferry Road in Saco for 37 years. (Abigail Worthing photo) Eric Pendleton is on a mission to find the perfect buyer for his family’s business. The Pendleton family has owned Garside’s Ice Cream on Ferry Road in Saco for 37 years. (Abigail Worthing photo) SACO – After 37 years, the Pendleton family is selling Garside’s Ice Cream. On March 17, Maine’s oldest home made ice cream stand announced on Facebook that it was for sale, an announcement that was met on social media with comments from the community that ranged from fond family memories to sharing their favorite flavor.

The Pendleton family has owned Garside’s since 1981 when they purchased it from Arthur Garside himself. Garside opened the ice cream stand in 1955 after experimenting with making ice cream at his adjacent farm for many years. Gordon Pendleton, a Thornton Academy and University of Maine alumnus, was looking to retire from his position as athletic director at Deering High School and saw the perfect opportunity in owning Garside’s, which is across the street from the Pendleton family home on Ferry Road. During the first year the Pendleton family owned Garside’s, they increased business by 800 percent. Gordon Pendleton ran the stand until his death in 1994, and his wife Mary and son Eric have run the business since.


Little has changed inside Garside’s over the years. Pictured here are the dipping cabinets and “the cow,” the nickname for the milk freezer. (Abigail Worthing photo) Little has changed inside Garside’s over the years. Pictured here are the dipping cabinets and “the cow,” the nickname for the milk freezer. (Abigail Worthing photo) The sale of Garside’s is what Eric Pendleton has called the sale of “the land, the stand and the brand.” Leo Bourgeault of Leo’s Sold Team is facilitating the sale, but Eric and Mary have been active in the sale, wanting to find the perfect person to buy Garside’s. In 2017 the location was assessed by the city of Saco at $152,400. The property and stand are priced together and are listed for $450,000. According to realtor Bourgeault, included in the list price is the .74 acre plot of land, the stand, the equipment, and all recipes.

“The brand is powerful. We’re the oldest homemade ice cream in Maine. People know us, and know our quality,” Pendleton, Thornton Academy class of ’81, said. “Ideally, I’d like to find a family. Nice, with good local values, and excited about Garside’s.”

The family insists the stand remain as “Garside’s Ice Cream,” and, because the land is zoned through the city of Saco for only the sale of ice cream, there is no way to sell anything else in the stand without knocking it down, which Pendleton said will happen “over his cold dead body.”

When the stand originally opened, Garside offered 13 flavors. Under the ownership of the Pendleton family, Garside’s offers 40 flavors, 32 standard flavors and eight flavors that change.


Left, a token from the past – Arthur Garside’s original method of inventory tracking, his pegboard from 1955 featuring his 13 original flavors and others added on by the Pendleton family throughout the years. Far left, stacked along the counter are the original metal pails from 1955 that are used to store the ice cream during the summer (Abigail Worthing photos) Left, a token from the past – Arthur Garside’s original method of inventory tracking, his pegboard from 1955 featuring his 13 original flavors and others added on by the Pendleton family throughout the years. Far left, stacked along the counter are the original metal pails from 1955 that are used to store the ice cream during the summer (Abigail Worthing photos) “I remember making the first new flavor,” said Pendleton, now a Boston resident. “It was mint chocolate chip. We were just kids, trying something new, making a mess. There was ice cream all over the walls. It was a great memory.”

Among other changes the Pendleton family made to the ice cream was improving the quality of ingredients, from using real pistachios to increasing the level of milk fat in the ice cream from 10 percent to 14 percent. The FDA regulates what can be labeled and sold as ice cream, and the product at Garside’s is now what is qualified as “super premium ice cream” with an overrun, or amount of air whipped into the ice cream, of 30 percent, a level of milk fat at 14 percent, and a heavy weight.

Pendleton beams with pride as he walks around the inside of the 18 feet by 24 feet stand, mostly untouched by time. He points out the hardening freezers, where the ice cream will solidify into “hard serve” ice cream, and to the dipping cabinets, where the ice cream is kept at a “scoopable temperature.” Lining the walls and stacked on the counters are metal containers where the ice cream is stored, the same ones from 1955.

“We’ve experimented with plastic and cardboard (containers),” Pendleton said. “But these are really the best. And it’s impossible to find ones like this anymore.”

Among other relics in the stand from Arthur Garside’s days is a rusted pegboard screwed into one of the freezers with the original 13 flavors listed, where Garside would use pegs to keep track of his ice cream stock. Over the years, other flavors have been added to the board, but the original 13 labels remain.

“Whoever buys this place needs to keep this forever,” Pendleton said. “And if the freezer breaks, they need to take it down and screw it to the new one.”

During the last 37 summers, Garside’s has employed many young people from the Saco community. Among these employees was Morgan Brockington, 27, who grew up on Seafields Lane, less than a tenth of a mile away from Garside’s, and spent seven summers working there. The Brockington family moved to Seafields Lane in 1995, and would walk down to get ice cream.

“I remember when we first moved. I was so small I could stand under the counter,” Brockington said. “It was a staple of our childhood, and then being able to work there was a childhood dream come true.”

Brockington has fond memories of working at Garside’s, and cites it as not only a great first job, but also her favorite job to date. Her “claim to fame” at Garside’s was an opportunity to create a few flavors for author Dan Brown’s summer barbeque. Pendleton is a friend of Brown’s and would bring half gallons of Garside’s ice cream to the barbeque every summer.

“I made a banana bread ice cream. It was banana ice cream with chocolate chips and walnuts. It was delicious, and as far as I know, Dan Brown liked it to,” Brockington said.

Pendleton speaks highly of all the students that passed through Garside’s, and enjoyed the opportunity to mentor them as well.

“I would always tell them, ‘Whatever you do in life, working in an office, with computers, if you’re a doctor or a hairdresser, the skills you learn at Garside’s will apply.’ It’s customer service, collaboration, problem solving. These are skills for the rest of their lives,” Pendleton said.

Pendleton also mentioned his love for “ice cream culture” in the area, citing Martel’s on Portland Road in Saco as a business that he doesn’t see as competition, but as a partner to drive up this culture, and in turn increase the area demand for ice cream.

“We have been blessed to live in Saco. My mom and I are grateful to all our employees. They’ve always been so smart, good and responsible. We’ve loved them, and are so deeply grateful to the community for raising such great kids.”

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