An Unchanging Landmark in West Palm Beach

In a rapidly changing city, is anything staying the same?

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Paul P.

The inside of a Carvel on Dixie Highway in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Natalie Sadler, Staff Writer

Always a sunny alternative, West Palm Beach has been a popular destination throughout the years. West Palm is home to many must see attractions, both old and new, but with multiple new buildings going up, we have to wonder what is happening to the original historic landmarks of West Palm Beach.

One of the few remaining landmarks is Carvel, an ice cream store on Dixie Highway with it’s unmistakable 6 foot soft serve ice cream cones standing outside welcoming generations. The Scoppa family has owned the West Palm Beach Carvel since 1973 and has watched West Palm Beach go through many changes. But somehow, with all the changes, this ice cream store has managed to stay put and remain a popular place for families, first dates, and after school visits.

“A lot of the buildings here have been refurbished and we’ve seen a lot of changes,” said Gina Scoppa, the owner of the store. With new apartment buildings rising out of nowhere and shopping centers becoming the central place for outings, it is remarkable some of these landmarks have withstood the test of time. “Generations just keep coming back,” says Scoppa.

Carvel originated in New York by Tom Carvel and the West Palm Beach location was originally a seasonal store used to come up with new products. Dixie Highway was the main road through West Palm Beach, and a supplement to I-95 until the highway extension was completed south of Palm Beach Gardens, which is the reason why many of the original landmarks are located in West Palm Beach. “There’s not too many of the originals left,” said Scoppa.

Carvel is home to many happy memories. Between birthdays, visits with grandparents, and memories of the creative cakes, Carvel is always on someone’s mind. “We have lived in West Palm Beach since 1978 and raised our three children here. It was always a special treat to get ice cream at Carvel. My kids also love their ice cream cakes. Now we take our five-year-old granddaughter there for a special treat,” said Margie Yansura, West Palm Beach resident.

When the pandemic hit, many businesses, even large ones, were forced to shut down, but Carvel remained a commonly visited part of the neighborhood. “Who knew ice cream was essential?” said Scoppa. However, the virus still took a toll on the small store with limits on shipping and trouble with staffing making it hard to keep the store running. Many other small businesses in West Palm Beach have closed, including George’s Hardware Store and Berto’s Bait and Tackle. These stores are facing problems from the pandemic, new competition with more well known stores, and developers coming through with new plans to accommodate the growing population.

The future of West Palm Beach is on a good track according to the mayor and his team. “Despite the effects of COVID-19, the City of West Palm Beach is experiencing a period of unprecedented growth, prosperity and achievement. My focus for West Palm Beach is on creating a community of opportunity for all. As a result of policies implemented by my administration, our city is safer, our neighborhoods are stronger, and our business community is thriving. We anticipate this trend will continue and that the future of West Palm Beach will be very bright,” says Mayor Keith A. James of West Palm Beach.

Finally, amidst the rapidly growing environment, hopefully West Palm Beach will try to preserve the remaining pieces of its past with the exciting new changes and additions such as Brightline and Rosemary Square.