Family History

A San Francisco Family Since 1865
A San Francisco Treasure Today

The Mitchell family moved to San Francisco from New York in 1865 and started a small dairy farm in the hills above what is now Noe Valley. Edward Mitchell ran the farm until his untimely death in the late 1890’s, leaving his wife with eight young children to raise on her own. She leased the land to another farmer after her husband’s death, and in 1913 she had a three story apartment building built on the corner of 29th Street and San Jose Avenue. This is the building that now houses Mitchell’s Ice Cream.

In 1947, the City of San Francisco planned to widen San Jose Avenue and wanted to tear down the Mitchells’ apartment building to make room for the wider street. The family fought to save the building and the City finally agreed to lift it and turn it, rather than tear it down. The entrance to the building was originally on 29th St., but after the building was turned, the entrance was on San Jose Ave. The storefront on the first floor of the building sat empty for several years after the building was turned. In 1952, brothers Larry and Jack Mitchell decided to take advantage of the empty storefront and start their own business. They had always had a passion for ice cream, so they turned the space into an ice cream parlor and the rest is history!

Larry was 24 years old and Jack was 34 when they started their venture. They designed and built the store themselves in their spare time, along with help from their father and their two brothers-in-law. When construction of the store was finished, they received three days of training on ice cream making from Dairy Made Creamery and then they were on their own!  Along with making ice cream and running the shop, Larry was also a proud San Francisco firefighter for 30 years.  See more photos–our history, employees, and how we make our ice cream.