Tom’s Ice Cream Bowl

Tasty treats served in true 1950s fashion

My family often visits St. Clairsville, Ohio, my husband’s hometown two hours east of Columbus. We like to break up the drive by stopping halfway in Zanesville to visit Tom’s Ice Cream Bowl.

The restaurant, at 532 McIntire Ave., features ice cream that’s freshly made on the premises. Tom’s also sells an assortment of nuts and chocolates by the pound. The nuts are roasted in the store, and the chocolates come from Ben Heggy’s Fine Chocolates of Canton.

Owned by longtime employee Bill Sullivan, Tom’s is a throwback to the 1950s. Outside it’s a plain building, and I do mean plain. But inside it’s ultra hip with original ’50s furnishings including yellow Formica tables, steel-frame chairs, pebble-tile floor and freezers that were made more than a half-century ago.

But before you think that Tom’s is some kind of fancy eatery that’s all dolled up to look old, think again. Those white, button-down shirts and black bow ties that the male employees wear are legit.

“We’re not retro. We’re the real thing,” Sullivan said.

Tom’s serves lunch and dinner including soups, sandwiches, side dishes, sodas and phosphates. But it’s the ice cream, candy and roasted nuts that keep us coming back.

On a recent stop I ordered the banana split, and the sloppy masterpiece was like nothing I’d ever seen. My server started by slicing a banana into disks and slapping them into the bottom of a soup bowl. He covered the bananas with a stack of three scoops of ice cream – vanilla, chocolate and strawberry. He finished by topping the mini tower with a ladle full of marshmallow sauce.

Sullivan explained that many of the ice cream dishes come in soup bowls (and hence the name of the restaurant) because a customer way back in the ’50s was making a mess using a dish. He asked for a bowl, and the tradition was born.

For more information, visit www.tomsicecreambowl.com.