Hartigan’s Ice Cream Shoppe celebrates grand reopening, owner reflects on more than four decades at the store


Daniel Kim/The Daily Northwestern

Marcia Hartigan (Weinberg ʼ84) bought the store as a sophomore at Northwestern with her future husband Terry Hartigan over 40 years ago.

Lindsey Byman, Reporter

Hartigan’s Ice Cream Shoppe celebrated its grand reopening March 31 after almost three months of renovations to update its interior and facilities.

Owner Marcia Hartigan (Weinberg ʼ84) bought the store as a sophomore at Northwestern with her future husband Terry Hartigan. Over 40 years later, she said she wants the shop to have an updated look for her own satisfaction.

“Ambience is very, very important to me,” Marcia Hartigan said. 

The store traded gray wood-like flooring for black and cream tile in order to make the shop feel “more spacious,” according to Marcia Hartigan. Hartigan’s also added white granite countertops that “sparkle,” she said.

“I want the store to feel homey and old-fashioned — a whole different experience than just going to the grocery store to pick up a quart of ice cream,” Marcia Hartigan said.

Other renovations were more functional, she added. The store updated electrical and plumbing systems and replaced cabinets and soda fountain handles.

Some employees have already noticed a difference at the store.

“It feels a lot brighter in here,” employee Sophia Burnell said. “I really enjoy the atmosphere.”

At least one thing remained the same throughout the renovations. A photo of Marcia Hartigan’s late husband, Terry Hartigan, smiling behind a banana split, still hangs high on the wall next to the store’s entrance.

Marcia Hartigan met her husband while they both worked at the Wilmette Baskin-Robbins in the late 1970s.

In 1980, the owner, looking to retire, asked the young couple if they would take over the chain’s Evanston location. The couple then bought the shop later that year, and Terry Hartigan began working full-time to manage the store. Then, shortly following Marcia Hartigan’s graduation in 1984, the couple married. 

In 1996, the Hartigans parted from the Baskin-Robbins brand and put up a new sign for Hartigan’s Ice Cream Shoppe, a sign that’s there today. 

When Marcia Hartigan tore brown paper from the windows in late March for re-opening night, she said eager customers banged on the store’s glass.

“There was a lot of community spirit,” Hartigan said. “Every single customer that came in Friday, Saturday (and) Sunday was like, ‘Yay, you’re open! Oh my gosh, the floors look so good!’”

Evanston resident Shuntella Richardson, who sometimes goes to Hartigan’s, said she has noticed that community members choose the shop over a “plethora” of other ice cream options in the city. 

She said people love Hartigan’s because of how employees greet them, which continues to serve 49 year-round ice cream flavors.

“People in the community love the ice cream parlor,” Richardson said. “My personal experience has always been welcoming. (They are) always friendly, family-oriented, clean, kind (and) respectful.”

Marcia Hartigan added she loves her store’s community and enjoys attending her employees’ baseball games and theatre performances. 

But that’s not all she likes about the job.

“My favorite thing, oddly enough in all those years … is that I like milkshakes,” she said. “I really like a peanut butter and chocolate milkshake.”

Email: [email protected] 

Twitter: @lindseybyman

Related Stories: 

Evanston businesses celebrate National Ice Cream Day on July 19

Famous Taco Burger brings Mexican, American cuisine to Central Street

Teabar Boba opens in downtown Evanston