Students of Binghamton University recognize Downtown Binghamton for its restaurants and University Downtown Center, but they may not be totally aware of its historical hidden landmarks. In fact, Downtown hosts the first Dick’s Sporting Goods, is the hometown of IBM and was once a hub for cigar and shoe manufacturing. There is even a plaque commemorating its part in the Underground Railroad at the doors to City Hall. While not every relic of Binghamton’s early years remains, many of these historic sites are getting revamped to benefit the current community of permanent residents, students and faculty.
Built in 1905, at the base of the Marconi Tower on Lewis Street, where Guglielmo Marconi demonstrated to the world that we enable the radio to communicate to a fast-moving vehicle, sits a newly open ice cream shop. The shop, Scoopy Dooby, is one of the many recently opened businesses aimed at serving the growing base of BU students living Downtown.
Mark Yonaty, a co-owner of Scoopy Dooby, said he bought the Lackawanna Train Station in 2012 and renovated the historical building to house local businesses.
“The building that was there was a dilapidated structure that really had no use,” Yonaty said. “Had no utilities, no plumbing, nothing. A lot has happened in the last five years in terms of developing. One of the things that was lacking was that there’s not a place for ice cream. Every time I went out for ice cream I’d see a dense population of students. I’d ask students in line, ‘Why do you guys come here?’ And they’d always just say, ‘This is the closest place.’ We also wanted to make sure we could accommodate several people on a patio, people inside, people outside and that it would be close to Downtown.”
The ice cream shop colors are whimsical pink and blue, with flavors ranging from cake batter to old-fashioned soft-serve chocolate. Its menu features milkshakes, Italian ices, floats and cookie sandwiches with your choice of ice cream in between two warm, homemade cookies. The cherry on top is the specialty sundaes menu, which adopts some of its creative names after the shop’s past life as a train station with sundaes like the Caboose, The Polar Express and the Trainwreck. Yonaty even enlisted his nieces and nephews to help with creating new sundaes for the shop.
“I have three nieces and one nephew,” Yonaty said. “Kids are fascinated with ice cream. So, I gave them the task of creating their own sundae, which was funny in itself. You would have thought these kids were studying for their SAT. We thought it would be fun for the kids to come up with their favorite sundae.”
Scoopy Dooby still has yet to set its schedule but had its soft opening concurrent with the Truck on the Tracks event series at the Lackawanna Train Station, which has two more dates: Sept. 27 and Oct. 11 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at 45 Lewis St. The playful ambiance of the pink- and blue-striped shop plays along with the makings of a child’s dream, six months in the making. Despite the warm summer months coming to an end, the shop has plans to stay open through the winter months.