SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) – From soft serve chocolate swirl to cotton candy in a waffle cone topped with rainbow sprinkles, the ice cream is never in short supply at Harry’s Sweet Treats.
Every scoop is accompanied by a smile and story from 78 year-old Harry Leonardo.
“I love ice cream. If you don’t love ice cream, you get out of this business and I just like working with kids,” said Harry.
For over three decades, Harry has been scooping up all sorts of frozen concoctions to make the community he is in a little bit sweeter.
“Very first day we opened was May 20th, 1988 okay. And I have been going ever since,” said Harry.
Harry’s Sweet Treats is located down Burnet Avenue across the street from Shifty’s Bar and parallel to Dominick’s Restaurant. His shop’s sign can be seen from the highway and he keeps the lights on past typical dessert shop hours.
Usually he shuts down at ten o’clock, but if the weather is warm and the line is long, his window could stay up until eleven.
“I have a good time with people, I love people, people are great. I have a good time with my customers. I get along with everybody. People come down and go ‘oh I’m glad you are open, We’re glad you are back.’ That makes me happy,” said Harry.
For the customers that do know where he is located and pop in, the delicious product is always worth talking about. “I ended up getting the vanilla peanut butter ice cream. My second choice was the butter pecan,” said customer Logan Tufty.
The problem Harry’s faces is generating consistent new faces. “I honestly didn’t know it was here. I just drove down the street and saw it and popped in,” said Logan Tufty.
Try searching Harry’s Sweet Treats on google maps, nothing pops up. What about on social media like Instagram? Not there either. How about a website for information or hours, does not exist.
“There is nothing. I told my daughter after 35 years. I told my daughter, listen. We ought to get on Facebook, so I’m ready to do it. Took me a long time to realize it, but I’m ready to do it,” said Harry.
Along with the lack of online presence, Harry’s shop does not receive the same fame or recognition because of Dominick’s.
The Italian landmark restaurant shut down in 2020 due to the pandemic and has resulted in slower foot traffic down Burnet Avenue.
“With Dominick’s closing, I probably lost about 40 percent, 40 percent of my business. That comes through my bookkeeper, my accountant. He says, ‘your business is down,’ I says I know, what am I going to do?” said Harry.
Less families to grab ice cream following dinner has made times tougher on Harry’s business, but he continues to do what he loves and shows up everyday to be around the people in his neighborhood, especially his buddies.
“I’ve had as many as 14 people sitting around a table down here and we discuss everything. I mean, we could settle all the world’s problems, just come down to the ice cream store and listen to us. I got people that come and they go, ‘where are all your buddies, where is everyone?” said Harry.
Although Harry’s ice cream choices are extremely enticing, it is his personality that brings back loyal customers.
“Most of my customers are my friends. That’s a good thing, they are. Everybody is a friend, okay, but I got a lot of customers too and they are all friends. I try to get along with everybody regardless of the area. Regardless of how rich people are, how poor people are, it’s all the same. It’s all the same to me. They are all good people,” said Harry.
From when the open sign turns on to everyone getting up to go, Harry’s business is about more than just scooping ice cream.
Harry’s Sweet Treats can be found at 1400 Burnet Avenue. Hours vary.