Watch CBS News

Long Island Community Rallying To Save Historic Ice Cream Shop Hildebrandt's As Rent Rises

WILLISTON PARK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- A Long Island business feeling the squeeze is getting much-needed support.

In the heart of Williston Park is a journey back in time.

Hunter Acosta is filled with emotion about looming changes to the historic soda fountain Hildebrandt's, treasured by generations for its famous hot fudge sundaes and flaming bananas foster.

"It's always been such a huge part of me and my childhood," said Acosta, who is co-owner of the shop. "We kept it as Hildebrandt's and we'd like that to continue."

Henry Hildebrandt first opened the doors for ice cream in 1927. Decades later, Acosta's grandparents purchased the iconic corner parlor and expanded the menu to include food.

"That was, like, kind of our twist, our family twist on our place," Acosta told CBS2's Jennifer McLogan.

And now, on the verge of its 100th birthday, the landlord is looking to increase the rent by more than $2,000 a month to $6,700.

Acosta says they currently pay $4,500, saying "which is still a lot for us."

Acosta's family has been told the new landlord would like to turn the space into a cafe or possibly part of an ice cream chain. Patrons are reacting.

"It is landmark quality," one person said.

"We've been coming here for years with our children, with our grandchildren," another patron said.

Now, the community is rallying around hopes of landmark status and lobbying their local government for help.

"Our family may not be able to stay but somebody else's will, and that's our goal, to have Hildebrandt's stay in the community, whether it's us or not," Hildebrandt's manager Thomas Bauman said.

Long after this family is gone, they want the sign to stand another 100 years -- and the classic exterior, too.

"All we want as, I think, a community and as a family, we just want it to remain Hildebrandt's," Acosta said.

A seashell hand-painted with the Hildebrandt's storefront was delivered while CBS2 was there -- a tribute to the owners and staff from a loyal patron.

If Hildebrandt's achieves landmark status with the National Register of Historic Places, the façade and name would be preserved. Community members want a public hearing held at Williston Park Village Hall so their voices can be heard.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.