A scoop of vanilla ice cream with rainbow sprinkles is...

A scoop of vanilla ice cream with rainbow sprinkles is one of the bestsellers at Hildebrandt's in Williston Park. Credit: Bruce Gilbert

Stop holding your breath: Hildebrandt’s is not closing — at least not any time soon.

"We're going to be open for another 35 years," Spencer Singer, one the iconic Williston Park ice cream parlor's new owners, told a visibly relieved customer who'd been coming in for more than three decades.

In the summer of 2020, the Long Island ice cream world was rocked by the news that, according to Hildebrandt’s longtime manager, Tom Bauman, a prospective new landlord was, planning to “gut the store, put in a coffee shop and maybe sell ice cream — but not our ice cream.” The outcry was swift. The last two years have seen much writing of letters, signing of petitions and, especially, desperate social media posts bemoaning the closing of the shop, which opened on Hillside Avenue in the 1920s. The story — and the posts — went wider than Long Island; Hildebrandt’s vintage facade is famous among neon-sign aficionados across the nation.

Deliverance came via Singer and Randy Sarf, friends since their Great Neck childhoods, themselves customers with decades of Hildebrandt’s sundaes under their belts. Sarf, who owns a financial services firm, had been considering the purchase for a while and, in May, he suggested to Singer that the two go into business together. Singer, who has worked in fashion and nightlife (among other sectors) had been consulting since the beginning of the pandemic; he plans to be the day-to-day manager.

Spencer Singer, left, and Randy Sarf are the new owners...

Spencer Singer, left, and Randy Sarf are the new owners of Hildebrandt’s in Williston Park. Credit: Newsday/Erica Marcus

Singer and Sarf said they negotiated a 10-year lease with the new landlord and secured assurances from the existing crew, including Bauman and owner Bryan Acosta, that they will stay on for at least a year.

The new owners said they have no intention of tinkering with Hildebrandt’s success. “We understand what makes this place special,” Singer said. “We only want to update the equipment, fix what needs to be fixed, spruce up the interior, bring it back to fighting weight.”

The future might bring a new air-conditioning system, tables outside, a new window on the side of the building, restoration of some of the original architectural details. But for now, the two men have their hands full learning the business and accepting the thanks of grateful ice cream fans.

Hildebrandt's is at 84 Hillside Ave., Williston Park, 516-741-0608, hildebrandtsrestaurant.com.

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