Palm decorations complemented ladies’ bustles and gentleman’s chin-whiskers as social Dallas gathered and dined at the Elite Café, Main near Field, in the 1880s.
At the time, Dallas was a small, but growing town. Famous actors of the day played the old opera house and met between performances to taste the delicacies of Fred Boedeker’s combined confectionery, restaurant and ice cream parlor.
Boedeker introduced Dallas to molded ice cream at the Elite shortly after the ice cream business burst on the scene at the St. Louis World’s Fair. In the basement of the building, a large man cranked away at a 10-gallon ice cream freezer while diners above enjoyed the new and delicious treat.
The 25-foot frontage building became too small, so the café moved in next door to a 50-foot frontage building. Fashionable Dallas gathered on the second floor of the building with its completely mirrored walls to dine, mingle and, of course, indulge in a cone of Boedeker’s famous ice cream.
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