Scarborough's famous Harbour Bar celebrates its 75th birthday

The Harbour Bar on the south-side seafront is a Scarborough institution and celebrates its 75th birthday on Saturday.

By Sue Wilkinson
Wednesday, 29th July 2020, 9:09 am
Updated Wednesday, 29th July 2020, 10:52 am
Owners of the Harbour Bar Guilian and Theresa Alonzi and staff
Owners of the Harbour Bar Guilian and Theresa Alonzi and staff

Its bright signage, in primary colours, has also been a distinctive sight in Sandside. Inside the decor is red and yellow and the staff wear yellow dresses with white trim.

The menus boast of ice-cream sundaes and knickerbocker glories, milkshakes and soda floats. It is reminiscent of the milk bar in the US sitcom Happy Days. No one would be surprised if the Fonz walked in.

The Harbour Bar is run by Guilian Alonzi and his wife Theresa who have two grown up children and live on the northside of Scarborough.

The menu has been adapted to include breakfast and lunches. “We continue to expand and improve the Harbour Bar, without changing the essence of the 1950s milk bar style. There are many original pieces with hand-painted signs and pyramids of preserved fruit in jars, a tribute to earlier years where fresh fruit was hard to come by and had to be bottled by hand,” said Giulian.

The family history of ice-creaming making goes back to the start of the 20th century. when Guilian’s paternal grandparents left their mountain village home, near Monte Cassino in Southern Italy, for Britain.

They first ran a small bar in Eastborough in Scarborough and a small fleet of ice cream barrows near the beach.

READ THIS: Harbour Bar applies for alcohol licence here“One barrow at the Spa end of Scarborough charged 2d a cornet and a second barrow near the Lifeboat House charged 1d for the same cornet,” said Guilian. “The Spa end was considered for posh people,” he said.

The end of the Second World War, with rationing still in place, saw the birth of the Harbour Bar, which then sold ice cream and coffee, and was run by Guilian’s mum and dad Annie and Tony and his Auntie Lucy. They opened their doors on August Bank Holiday Saturday 1945 and sold out of everything in two hours and took £48.

TAKE A LOOK: Harbour Bar's 75th birthday hereThey ran out of sugar and coffee and went round the town getting more.

Financial help to set up the business came from Cyril Quarton, who had a grocery business in the town.

Guilian was born above the Harbour Bar in 1948. It was then his father changed the shape of the bar into the shape of a ‘G’. He started worked in the family business at the age of 12 collecting coffee glasses from the tables before school and helping during the holidays. His two sisters Ann and Susanne also helped out.

He made his first batch of ice-cream unsupervised at 16.

He took a few years out to train as an accountant but returned to the business at the age of 21 and has been there ever since.

Guilian works on his own in a factory at the back of the cafe. The equipment can make 500 litres an hour and Giulian makes three or four batches a day.

Vanilla and strawberry were the first two flavours to be sold and now there are scores to choose from. “We have seen many changes over the years, the fishing fleet disappearing, mods and rockers ... but we remain the same.”

The sign above the service window now reads: Our ice cream can be licked but not beaten by Covid-19.

“We have been lucky and are happy to be here still,” said Guilian.

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