Anyone who’s ever strolled towards the east end of Broughton Street has without a doubt witnessed the line of people trailing out the door of Leopold’s Ice Cream down to the corner, patiently waiting for their chance to enter what Hollywood stars like Ben Affleck call, “the best place to get ice cream in the heart of Savannah.”
Leopold’s is a fully fledged Savannah institution, having run continuously for over one hundred years, something few local businesses can say these days.
While many know Leopold’s by its current Broughton St. location, which was opened in 2004 by Stratton Leopold, Hollywood producer and son of co-founder Peter Leopold, many don’t know the history behind the company, something Leopold aims to share with the release of the businesses’ upcoming book “A Century of Tasty Memories.”
“The book is a linear history,” said Leopold, calling from New York, “it starts with the ship my father and uncle came to the U.S. on. My dad was about 12 or 13 at the time and my Uncle George acted like a surrogate father, he was 18 or so. Originally the two went to Brazil, Indiana because they had a cousin there who was in the candy business, and that’s where they started developing their ice cream recipes, later on, after their sister got married and moved to Savannah she wanted some family around.”
“Their first trip to Savannah was in the summer,” added Leopold laughing, “it was hot and muggy, there were lots of mosquitoes and most of the streets were earthen, so they turned around and went right back to Indiana, but she kept the letters flowing begging them to move down here. Ultimately, the pair did move down here and took jobs until the first World War, which my father signed up for and fought in, and when he came back, they started the business.”
The company‘s long legacy in Savannah is something Leopold aims to uncover with the book. “Guests ask me all the time how it got started, and I tell them the story about my dad coming over from Greece, but it’s codified now, so people can actually read it,” he said. “I want people to come away with some knowledge of how we started, and in this case, see how immigrant brothers were able to realize the American dream, and then with me being in the film business which is tough to get going as well, I’ve been so blessed, it’s all about being in the right place at the right time, and being precocious.”
While Leopold is known for his part in Paramount action titles, the 76-year-old says he’s more interested in producing pictures centered around the dynamics of real-life character progression.
“I used to do big action for Paramount, I did ‘Mission Impossible III,’ and it was fine, we had a blast, but what excites me now, and has for a while, are real true stories of character change. I’ve recently bought two books, ones called ‘Charlie Two-Shoes’ and the other one is a New York Times Best Seller Non-Fiction titled ‘In the Sanctuary of Outcasts.’ It’s a story of redemption set in Oxford, Mississippi.”
Leopold, and his wife Mary, will also be hosting a book signing on Saturday, Feb. 15 from 12-2 p.m. at the flagship Broughton St. location, and encourage fans to come by for a scoop and stay for the story.
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