After 43 years serving ice cream on Revere Beach, Banana Boat Ice Cream was forced to close forever Tuesday.
“It is with a heavy heart we have made the tough decision to close Banana Boat Ice Cream,” owners Amora and Avri Schena announced in a Facebook post. “Words will never be enough to express our gratitude to our family, hard-working employees, dedicated customers, suppliers, and each person who has supported us over the years.”
Amora and Avri said they made the decision to close the shop so they could enjoy their summers.
“It was time for us to now be able to enjoy summer and the special events that go on, like Fourth of July that kind of thing, that we were never able to do because we were always at the business, seven days a week,” Amora said in an interview Wednesday. “And then with COVID this year, that was just the cherry on the top that really made the final decision.”
Founded in 1977 by husband and wife Tony and Ann Schena, Banana Boat became a summer staple on the beach. The Schenas bought the land along with another couple, Bobby and Maureen Fanara, as an investment when they learned a casino would be coming to the beach, the Facebook post announcing the shop’s closure said. When the plans for the casino fell through, Tony and Ann opened Banana Boat Ice Cream. The store, now owned by the Schena’s two daughters, Amora and Avri, closed for the winter season on Sept. 7.
Avri said being a part of the Revere Beach community was an incredibly rewarding experience for the Schenas.
“We saw generations of people and... our own employees that worked for us, 20, 30 years ago now came with their children,” she said. “That’s why I think it’s so hard to let go. Because we are going to miss our customers, we’re going to miss the employees... they actually came down today, because they know we’re leaving [and] they just want to come in for the last time.”
Tributes poured in for Banana Boat on Facebook, with more than 300 comments expressing their disappointment with the closure and sending well wishes to the family.
“It was the best job I had for more than half my life and the best family I could ever work for !,” commenter Ivy Beth Nelson wrote. “They were there for me for all the big important times in my life and will always be my family ! It will be a big adjustment living life without the ‘Boat’ in it ! Thank you all for always being there for me ! Love you all !”
“Three generations of my family loved your shop and ice cream,” commenter Kerrie May wrote. “My daughter had her first cone served by you. Another little heartache in an already battered heart.”
Avri said seeing the tributes on Facebook made it all the more difficult for the Schenas to close the shop.
“The support we got from Facebook... that was unbelievable,” she said. “It makes us feel good and sometimes harder to leave because you don’t realize how much the people really just love us, so that’s a hard part.”
The Schenas have mixed emotions about saying goodbye to the Banana Boat after so many years.
“Bittersweet is the best way to say it,” Avri said. “We’ve cried for a couple of days.”
Revere Beach is the oldest public beach in the United States. The beach also plays home to the annual Revere Beach International Sand Sculpting Festival.
The beach was home to wooden roller coaster Cyclone until 1969 and The Hippodrome Carousel until 1973. When it opened in 1925, Cyclone was the tallest roller coaster ever built and the first roller coaster to be 100 feet tall.
Numerous other roller coasters dotted the beach in the early 20th century.