Alice Handel (1910 -1988)

My first taste of Handel’s chocolate pecan ice cream was enough for me to forsake all other flavors. Now 50 years later I still remember waiting what seemed hours to place my order at the window of the small building located on Vermont Court; a back alley on the south side of Youngstown, Ohio. While waiting in the long lines at each window, I would watch the smiling customers who had just been served. I never saw an unhappy person leave Alice Handel’s Ice Cream Stand.

The Vermont Ct. Location later renamed Handel Court by the City of Youngstown

Alice Handel was the original owner who devoted a lifetime in serving her special recipes of flavorful ice cream. Alice is gone now, having died on Mother’s Day twenty-one years ago at the age of 77. All articles I have read state that her death was in 1987, but this is not so. Her obituary can be found in the May 9, 1988 issue of the Youngstown Vindicator. It was here that I learned that Alice founded the Handel’s Ice Cream Shop in 1945 at the corner of Market Street and Midlothian Boulevard and moved her operations to a nearby alley in 1950. Further research mentions that Alice first began making ice cream and serving it from her husband’s gasoline station on Market Street and the reason she moved to Vermont Court was that the long line of customers often extended into Market Street. She feared for the safety of the children.
Maps of the City of Youngstown show that prior to 1925 Market Street ended at Midlothian Blvd. Motorist driving to Boardman had to make a sharp jog to the west on Midlothian and then continue south on what was then known as the Youngstown-Boardman Road. At the end of Market Street was a large parcel of land owned by Adam and Margaret Handel, Alice’s future in-laws. In the mid-1920s, a local merchant by the name of Brownlee reasoned that, if Market Street was extended southward and split the Handel property, his business would increase. So he agreed to purchase the eastern half of the Handel farm and also agreed to move the Handel homestead to the western half. Today the relocated Handel homestead is gone and in its place is the First Place Bank, a long low building shaped like the upper deck of a cruise ship.
Alice was born on July 29, 1910 in Akron, a daughter of Frank and Mary Burns. In 1928, Alice married 22 year old Howard Handel, the son of Adam and Margaret. Alice and Howard had one son named Raymond and her marriage lasted 29 years, ending with Howard’s death in 1957 at the age of 51. In the beginning, Alice moved in with the Handel family which included the mother, father, their three sons and one daughter. There was plenty of space on the Handel homestead to have a gas station and a garden. It has been said that Alice included some of the fresh fruits and berries grown in her garden to make the different flavors of ice cream. Her recipes remained a secret for the next forty years and today the Handel’s reputation is based on Alice’s original formula of not skimping on ingredients.
Alice Handel worked in her ice cream shop until she was well into her seventies. In 1985 Leonard Fisher of Canfield brought his wife to meet Alice and to talk about buying her recipes. Alice was impressed with the Fishers and decided to sell them the whole business. In the past 24 years Mr. Fisher has expanded the business with 34 locations in six states. On August 8, 2004 the 27th Handel’s was opened on Clingan Rd. in Poland Township to the delight of everyone living in Town One, Range One of the Western Reserve.

Handel’s Logo representing the
48 standard flavors of ice cream.