Restaurateurs Buy McConnell’s

New Owners Stay Mum on Terms of Deal Until Escrow Closes

South Coast restaurant owners Barry and Kira Fay and Michael Palmer and Eva Ein have purchased McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams, it was announced over the weekend.

Responding to a published report, McConnell’s General Manager Scott Burns said in an email the new owners did not want any information released on the sale until after it closed escrow. The deal was expected to close by mid-September.

Terms of the deal were not immediately disclosed. The new buyers could not be reached for comment over the weekend.

Jim McCoy, 80, has owned McConnell’s for almost six decades and earlier referred to the buyers as “substantial restaurant people [who] are concerned about what I am concerned about, and that’s the brand.”

McCoy said he never expected to own McConnell’s this long after he bought it in 1963. He decided to take charge of his business again a few years after he initially retired in 1999. McCoy said his weak heart prompted him to sell.

Gordon F. McConnell opened the first McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams shop at State and Mission streets in Santa Barbara 62 years ago. McCoy said he wants the ice cream to continue to be made the same way McConnell made it.

McCoy said one of his partners put the company up for sale on earlier this year and received some offers from as far away as New Jersey. A potential buyer offered as much as $1.005 million, McCoy said.

McConnell developed his ice cream recipes as a way to help him recover from injuries he suffered as a World War II glider pilot during the Normandy invasion. His widow, Ernestine McConnell, sold the one-store company to McCoy, who never met Gordon McConnell.

McConnell’s ice cream is sold in hundreds of markets, restaurants, and shops across the country in pint containers, three-gallon bulk tubs, and as private-label products.

The South Coast Biz Blog is a roundup of the latest business news in the Santa Barbara area and is written by Ray Estrada, who has covered business in the region for numerous publications over the past couple decades. See more at and

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