By Brian Benefield
[This is the latest of Brian Benefield’s Second Helpings columns, highlighting food in Cobb County. To read more of his reviews, follow this link]
The thermometer is slowly rising, so we rush to turn down the air conditioning in our homes and in the car, and sometimes it can be so hot outside that we want to scream… scream for ice cream, of course. I had the chance to chat with Lolita Yagnik at her shop, and she couldn’t be more friendly and personable. Restaurant, Lolita’s living roomhas all the colors of the rainbow as you look around trying to make the tough decision on what to order due to the number of choices you have.
Lolita’s parents moved from India to the United States in the 1960s to get a good education, and she is still a firm believer in this notion. During our interview, two young women came to redeem a voucher from their school in the town of Marietta for the achievement of reading. It’s fantastic that she partners with local schools to encourage reading and rewards them with a sweet treat. Be sure to try some of the authentic Indian flavors of the ice cream she imports every week. Some of the best sellers are Alphonso Mango, Kesar Pista Kulfi – pistachio and saffron flavors, and the hugely popular Metha Paan – fennel, amaranth seeds and dried fruits. I usually go for my favorites like vanilla or mint chocolate chips, but the Indian flavors are a welcoming change and quite delicious.
“It’s amazing what ice cream can do no matter what color, religion or creed a person has because it represents unconditional love and makes people smile,” Lolita exclaimed emphatically. Yagnik grew up in the small town of Lansdale, Pennsylvania, just outside of Philadelphia, and has fond memories of visiting nearby dairy farms as a kid to sample some seriously fresh ice cream. And so the seed was planted. She moved to Georgia in 2007 and worked with her extended family at a local Haagen Dazs store in the Town Center Mall in Kennesaw and began observing people as they approached to place their orders. Customers were excited, laughing and smiling, knowing what sweet and tasty goodness was to come.
Seeing people’s positive reaction to enjoying frozen treats instantly brought her back to her childhood and inspired her to open Lolita’s parlor in 2016. She proudly serves high-quality Hershey’s ice cream, one of the oldest dairies of America, dating from 1894, not to be confused with the chocolate factory of the same name. The creamery is located in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and Lolita said serving their products is a way of honoring her upbringing. I tried the Banana Pudding Ice Cream, which has real banana chunks and vanilla wafers in it and let me tell you, if you’re having a bad day, this ice cream will change your outlook on life. I knew that if I came home empty-handed, my wife Cecilie wouldn’t be too happy, so I ordered her a lemon ice cream, and Lolita was right because my better half was smiling ear to ear.
Lolita told me that her shop was a bit like a bodega you would find in Philadelphia or New York that serves a bit of everything. My jaw dropped when she told me that they carry over two hundred and fifty items every day. Wow! According to many Google reviews, I have to come back and try the Naan Bread Pizza, their unique spin on a flatbread type of the crowd-pleasing dish. Other items on the menu include fried hot dogs and Bavarian pretzels and pancakes and churros and cookies and cakes and candy apples, and if you’re not hungry now, check your pulse.
I asked the owner how they were coping during the pandemic and to my surprise she said they had not only survived but thrived. Delivery apps like Uber Eats and Doordash helped them spread awareness of its location and the plethora of delicious sweet and savory treats people could order from the comfort of their homes. Lolita told me that much of their business comes from delivery that reaches Dallas, Woodstock, Hiram, and even as far as Buckhead.
There’s plenty of parking at his store, located a short drive from Marietta Square, with indoor tables and a patio where you can play cornhole or sit outside to enjoy your food. Even if you’re not screaming for ice cream, you’ll be sure to smile as you visit Lolita’s parlor. All. Alone. Weather.
Brian Benefield is a Dekalb County-born Atlanta native who has lived in Cobb since 2003.
He has worked in hospitality, marketing, real estate and more recently food tourism.
Married to Cecilie Benefield for 12 happy years.
They have a dog, Miss Pickles.
Hobbies are mountain biking, running, gardening and trying new recipes in the kitchen
Member of Les Marmitions cooking club since 2016, where we cook 5-course meals with local Atlanta chefs.