The Hamptons used to be a collection of small towns, each with its own identity. There were local shops, and places to eat. Some of these eateries remain, a reminder of a simpler, less complicated time. Westhampton has Eckhard’s, Bridgehampton has Candy Kitchen, and in Southampton there’s Sip ‘n Soda. Sip ‘n Soda is a beloved institution in Southampton Village, a destination for generations of local residents and families. This classic luncheonette was founded in 1958 by the Parash family – William, Nicolette, Paul and Jim. Generations of kids and families have loved the homemade ice cream and classic breakfasts and lunches. Local kids grow up and bring their own children.
Hamptons.com recently visited Sip ‘n Soda and spoke with owner Mark Parash, the third generation of his family to run this much-loved establishment. Walk in and you’ll find him behind the counter, working the grill or greeting customers, many of whom have become longtime regulars and old friends.
You’re the third generation of your family to own Sip ‘n Soda. How long have you owned the restaurant? And did you always know this would be your career path?
I started working at Sip ‘n Soda in 1992. I became partners with my Uncle Jim in 2008 after my father, Paul, passed away. I became full owner in 2019. So I’ve been part of Sips for 30 years. I had no idea I would end up owning the restaurant. Unlike many other members of the family, I never worked here as a teenager. I had summer jobs at Rotations and other local businesses. Two of my older brothers and cousins did work here, and my dad and my uncle owned the place before me.
What do you like best about the job?
The people! I get to meet so many great people. We have a lot of regular customers – business relationships become friendships. It’s a great mix of people who come to Sip ‘n Soda, with a lot of different interests.
This place has also served as a community hub. For years it’s been a gathering place for local business people, politicians and community leaders. Generations of families have been coming here. Kids who love Sip ‘n Soda grow up and bring their own kids. I also enjoy running the business – it’s a family tradition to be your own boss.
You are especially known for your homemade ice cream — it’s a really special treat. I understand that it’s made from a secret recipe that each generation of the family has to memorize – that it’s never been written down. Is that true? What makes it so special?
Yes, that’s true. I had to memorize the recipe when I took over the business. All of our ice cream is made right here, right in the back. There are over 40 different flavors, some of them are seasonal. Right now, for summer, we have black raspberry chip, peach, lemon custard, nutella, and several others. We also have cantaloupe, which we make once a season. We have classic favorites, too – oreo and coffee chip are always popular. After many years of making ice cream I’ve learned to balance texure and flavor. There is a feel to it! Ice cream should have a smooth creaminess and finish with a great flavor. Never overpowering.
In addition to milk shakes and egg creams I hear you have a special drink called a Lime Rickey. Can you tell us about that?
Our Lime Rickey was inspired by a classic cocktail called a gin rickey. It contains cherry syrup, a lemon-lime syrup we make on site, and seltzer. It’s really refreshing. There are a lot of fans of the Lime Rickey and even requests to keep it all year ’round. It’s available from May to October.
What other features would you like people to know about?
We serve breakfast till noon. We don’t take credit cards, so bring cash when you come to enjoy our great food.
How did Covid affect your business?
We were open for takeout and were able to keep all of our staff working. We had a special menu with old prices. One item we came up with and our customers really enjoyed was our breakfast sandwich which consisted of 2 eggs, choice of meat, hash brown and cheese on a roll. We named it the “63” in honor of our 63rd season in 2020. We charged $6.30. Since then we put it on our menu and each new season the price reflects the number of seasons we have been open. This year it was $6.50 representing our 65th season. I learned a lot about my business during Covid. We learned how to handle adversity. Good food service is key – our staff is crucial to our success.
How was the summer season for you this year, with indoor dining back?
It was fantastic!