Walking up to the little hut tucked away off a Route 236 sidestreet, Woody’s Ice Cream Parlor feels like a trip back in time. The oldies music makes the ice cream shop feel like a diner; the only thing missing are the poodle skirts.
But Woody’s hasn’t been serving ice cream since the 1950s, although its owner, Woodrow Lashley, has been living in Fairfax since then. He opened the shop just eight years ago, and it has become a popular destination in the city ever since.
“We have tremendous support from everyone in the city,” said Woodrow Lashley, owner of Woody’s. “It’s the name Woody’s, but it’s the people of Fairfax City.”
The ice cream parlor’s end-of-season celebration was Saturday, Oct. 28. A stage was set up on Stonewall Avenue, where live music played all day and costume contests, food, trick-or-treating and plenty of ice cream kept hundreds of visitors entertained.
“This is just a great day,” said Joanna Ormesher, the city’s marketing director and a costume judge at the Woody’s celebration.
THE LINE for Woody’s ice cream extended out into the street and around the corner, with at least 40 people waiting during the mid-afternoon. It was the last day people could taste the silky soft-serve, and the windy chill in the air didn’t deter them.
“Every year it grows bigger and bigger,” said Lashley.
Lashley said he doesn’t really know how it all happened. He just wanted to open an ice cream parlor so he could sell a few cones, meet some new people and have a good time, he said. Since then, Lashley has become a great neighbor to the surrounding communities and to the city as a whole.
“Woody has been a staple of Fairfax for a long time,” said City Councilmember Gail Lyon.
The neighbors, said Lashley, are responsible for the success of the Octoberfest celebration each year. The party originally began as a Woody’s Ice Cream birthday party. It was in June 1999, and Lashley said it was so well attended that he decided to move the part to the close of the business’ season.
“The neighbors, they bend over backward to help us,” said Lashley.
One business neighbor, Carlos O’Kelly’s Mexican Café, offers its parking lot and bathrooms to Woody’s throughout its spring, summer and early fall business season. The ice cream parlor is essentially a trailer, and does not have restroom facilities.
Syed Al Mansur, the general manager at Carlos O'Kelly's, said he doesn’t mind letting Woody’s customers use his facilities. He said he doesn’t even mind that his restaurant customers usually skip dessert there and hold out for the creamy ice cream across the street. People just love the little ice cream stand, said Mansur.
“When they first opened, I wondered if it would survive because it’s so small,” said Mansur. “The power of the word of mouth is amazing.”
For Lashley, he’s just happy he can interact with the city in such a friendly way. As people walked around, smiling, dancing and eating ice cream, Lashley smiled and said this is why he opened the store.
“I wanted to have fun and enjoy life,” said Lashely.