By Brian Benefield
[This is the latest of Brian Benefield’s Second Helpings columns, highlighting food in Cobb County. To read more of his reviews, follow this link]
The thermometer is inching up, so we rush to turn down the AC at our houses and in the car, and sometimes it can get so hot outside it makes you want to scream…scream for ice cream, that is. I got the chance to chat with Lolita Yagnik at her shop, and she couldn’t be more friendly and personable. The eatery, Lolita’s Parlour, has all the colors of the rainbow as you gaze around, trying to make the difficult decision on what to order because of the number of choices you have.
Lolita’s parents moved to the US from India in the 60s to get a good education, and she still firmly believes in that notion. During our interview, two young ladies came in to redeem a voucher from their city of Marietta school for reading accomplishment. It’s fantastic that she partners with local schools to encourage reading and rewards them with a sweet treat. Be sure and try some of the authentic Indian flavors of ice cream that she imports weekly. Some of the best-sellers are Alphonso Mango, Kesar Pista Kulfi- pistachio and saffron flavors, and the ever-popular Metha Paan- fennel, amaranth seed, and dried fruit. I usually steer towards my favs like vanilla or mint chocolate chip, but the Indian flavors are a welcoming change and quite delicious.
“It’s amazing what ice cream can do no matter what color, religion, or creed someone is because it represents unconditional love and makes people smile,” Lolita exclaimed emphatically. Yagnik grew up in the small town of Lansdale, PA, just outside Philadelphia, and has fond memories of visiting nearby dairy farms as a child to sample some very fresh ice cream. And so the seed was planted. She moved to Georgia in 2007 and worked with extended family at a local Haagen Dazs shop at Town Center Mall in Kennesaw and began to observe people as they walked up to place their orders. The customers would get excited, laugh, and grin, knowing what sweet, tasty goodness was forthcoming.
Seeing people’s positive reaction to enjoying the frozen treats instantly brought her back to her childhood and inspired her to open Lolita’s Parlour in 2016. She proudly serves high-quality Hershey’s ice cream, one of the oldest dairies in America, dating back to 1894, not to be confused with the chocolate company of the same name. The creamery is located in Harrisburg, PA, and Lolita said serving their products is a way of paying homage to her upbringing. I sampled the banana pudding ice cream, which has chunks of real banana and vanilla wafers mixed in and let me say that if you’re having a bad day, this ice cream will change your outlook on life. I knew that if I came home empty-handed, my wife Cecilie would not be too pleased, so I ordered her some lemon ice cream, and Lolita was right because my better half was grinning ear to ear.
Lolita told me that her shop is somewhat like a bodega you would find in Philly or NYC that serves a little bit of everything. My jaw dropped when she told me they carry over two hundred and fifty items on any given day. Wow! According to many Google reviews, I need to come back and try the Naan bread pizza, their unique spin on a flatbread type of the crowd-pleasing dish. Other menu items include deep-fried hot dogs and Bavarian pretzels and crepes and churros and cookies and cakes and candy apples, and if you aren’t hungry by now, check your pulse.
I asked the owner how they fared during the pandemic, and to my surprise, she said they not only survived but thrived. Delivery apps like Uber Eats and Doordash helped them spread the word about her location and the plethora of scrumptious sweet and savory treats that people could order from the comfort of home. Lolita told me a large portion of their business comes from delivery that reaches Dallas, Woodstock, Hiram, and even as far as Buckhead.
There’s plenty of parking at her shop, located just a quick drive from Marietta Square, with tables inside and a patio area where you can play cornhole or sit outside to enjoy your food. Even if you don’t scream for ice cream, you will be sure to smile when visiting Lolita’s Parlour. Every. Single. Time.
Brian Benefield is an Atlanta native born in Dekalb County, who has lived in Cobb since 2003.
He has worked in Hospitality, Marketing, Real Estate, and most recently Food Tourism.
Married to Cecilie Benefield for 12 blissful years.
They have a dog, Miss Pickles.
Hobbies are mountain biking, running, gardening, and trying new recipes in the kitchen
Member of Les Marmitions cooking club since 2016, where we cook 5-course meals with local Atlanta chefs.