Klavon's Ice Cream Parlor Is A Pittsburgh Tradition

When foodies think of Pittsburgh, they might daydream about a Primanti Bros. sandwich, or chowing down on a ballpark frank at a Pirate's game. But, if you ask locals, the city's food scene wouldn't be complete without ice cream.

Residing in the Strip District, Klavon's has been serving Pittsburgh for nearly a century, making the beloved mainstay one of the oldest ice cream parlors in the U.S. The now-iconic ice cream shop was opened in 1923 by James and Mary Klavon. It remained a soda fountain and apothecary for over 50 years until 1979 when it closed and stayed shuttered until 1999. In an inspiring family effort, the Klavons' eight grandchildren and one cousin banded together to reopen the shop with a sole focus on the ice cream. To modern day customers, stepping into Klavon's ice cream parlor is like stepping into a retro scene from the past — and to longtime fans, it offers a delicious taste of nostalgia.

Even today, the parlor's interior looks the same as it has always looked for the past 100 years, and it is still a family-run business. In 2022, when the Hanchars (the current owners) discovered that potential buyers had plans to renovate the space with a radical remodel, they promptly removed the shop from the market and decided to keep running it themselves. Klavon's is a meticulously kept pillar of Pittsburgh's history and a monument to sweet-toothed foodies across time.

A taste of the past and the future

The shop may tote old-world charm, but Klavon's has certainly kept up with the times. The business even raised its minimum wage for employees to $15 per hour in 2021. For ice cream lovers who want to get the scoop (pun intended) for themselves, the parlor is open from afternoon into evening every day but Monday. Customers keep coming back for the large portions of traditional ice cream floats and banana splits, and a sprawling menu of elaborate sundaes. These towering, monstrously-sized bowlfuls — including the aptly-named Monster, which is loaded with Oreos and hot fudge, and the Cookie Dough-licious — are priced at under $7, and the ice cream floats are less than $5. (Talk about a taste of the past mixed with flavors of the present.)

Inside Klavon's, guests will find the original bar stools that were made to look like Coke bottle caps, original stainless steel equipment behind the counter, original marble countertops, and the checkered tile floors that delighted foodies back in the '20s. Even the wooden phone booths and colorful old-timey candy counter stuck around. Now, Klavon's is enjoying its moment in the sun as a retro-style, seasoned veteran of Pittsburgh's flourishing ice cream scene.