Sign of Summer

Local landmark gets new owners, opens for the season.

Co-owner Kaitlyn Chillari, at the service window.
by William Sokolic

Like so many Vinelanders, Robert Scarpa grew up with Serene Custard. “I have such fond memories of coming here as a child with my mother, father and siblings,” he said of the iconic custard stand that opened in 1959.

When he heard the owners were shutting down Serene, Scarpa and his girlfriend, Kaitlyn Chillari, stepped in and bought the business.

This kind of business doesn’t come along all that often, one that attracted generations of locals. “It kind of tugged at my sentimental strings,” Scarpa said “We are only the fourth owners.”

Ed and Linda Rone took over the business in 1984. Under their watch, the location added a miniature golf course in the mid-1990s.

Scarpa and Chillari re-opened the custard stand April 1 and before the end of this month, the golf course will open for duffers and budding pros alike.

Scarpa and Chillari each bring something to the table. Chillari and her family spent many years in a business environment, and have the expertise to draw visitors.

A retiree from the Vineland fire department, Scarpa serves as the business development director for the city so he knows a little something about business and how to run one. “I work with small business development and how to grow a business,” he said.

So far, what gratifies Scarpa is the positive stories from returning customers.

In addition to the custard offerings, Serene features 32 flavors of homemade ice cream, the two most popular being chocolate nutty fudge and grape nut.

“All of the previous owner’s recipes for ice cream were passed down.”

Serene serves seven flavors of water ice, floats, sundaes, shakes, funnel cake, cotton candy and ice cream cake. “We also offer a K-9 Cup for our four-legged friends. It includes soft serve custard, peanut butter sauce and 2 dog treats. It’s a popular hit,” Scarpa said.

Custard and ice cream account for about 75 percent of sales with food and novelty items making up the difference. Non-dairy food includes chicken tenders, wings and Nathan’s All-Beef Hot Dogs, as well as Churros.

As the season progresses, Serene will host birthday parties including golf parties. “We’ll partner with non-profits to host their tournament at this course. We’ll market to the South Jersey area,” Scarpa said..

What drove Chillari’s interest was the local history of Serene as a small business around for more than 60 years, a business everyone knew.

“We love supporting small businesses whether it’s restaurants, shopping, or ice cream. We wanted to keep Serene the local business that it is.”

Like Scarpa, Chillari also frequented Serene with her family as a kid. “We never had a bad experience there, which is my hope for our customers.”

If You Go: Serene Custard and Golf is located at 2336 N. West Blvd. in Vineland. Phone number is 856-692-1104.

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