Jerry’s Custard has been a Lower Burrell treat since 1978
Jerry Connolly completed a two-week ice cream course at Penn State University during the 1970s, but he set his sights on something sweeter.
He opened Jerry’s Custard in Lower Burrell in 1978.
Recognized for its creamier and richer texture and flavor, custard is made with a higher milk fat content and eggs, says Connolly, 75.
“I can’t tell you my secret. I did experiment with the amount and it’s more expensive to make, but I don’t want to give away my secret,” he says. “The difference between custard and ice cream is custard is more flavorful and it does have egg in it, so, if one is allergic to egg, don’t eat it. But we do offer egg-free custard. People just love it.”
Frequent customer Tommy West of Parnassus agrees, visiting almost weekly with his wife, Carina.
“The custard is rich, velvety and creamier,” West says. “I love to get the $5 meal deal, too, and my favorite custard flavor is brownie.”
“I decided to make a nice place for the kids up here, even the old kids like me,” Connolly says. “It’s like a picnic area up here.”
Connolly purchased a little over three acres owned by Christian Missionary Alliance Church for his custard stand, which once was one of the church buildings. But, you won’t find this custard stand along Lower Burrell’s traditional business district.
Instead, Jerry’s sits along Route 780, also known as Seventh Street Road. Maybe a little out-of-the-way, but that comes with advantages.
The fenced park-like setting features manicured grounds, gazebos, trees, picnic tables and several boxes filled with toys for the customers.
“I tell the kids to pick out a toy when they visit here,” Connolly says.
“My dad gives toys to the kids and they just love it,” daughter Tammy Lochrane says. “We have a repetitive customer base. Some have been visiting for 18 years.”
While Connolly won’t reveal his custard recipes, he spent a month before opening Jerry’s giving away free “taste test” custard samples to people, perfecting his custard creations.
“I asked the people, “Which one do you like the best?” and that’s what I used,” Connolly says. “ They liked my black raspberry and chocolate.”
Custard production halted from 1982-2001 when Jerry opened a tire business.
Lochrane, of Lower Burrell, took over operations, re-opening Jerry’s in 2001 and operating seasonally — typically March through October.
“I ran the tire shop for about four years after dad retired,” Lochrane says. “My dad is great. I’m a very lucky individual to have a dad like that. He jokes and says ‘I don’t listen to her and she doesn’t listen to me,’”
Jerry’s offers custard sandwiches, floats, Jerry Bars, specialty sundaes, chillers, floats, milkshakes and parfaits.
Homemade waffles are cooked up daily for cones and custard prices range from $1.25-$6.
Black Raspberry and Cake Batter earn custard bragging rights for most popular flavors at Jerry’s. They serve more than 15 flavors.
Order a $6 Meal Deal and choose from specialty sandwiches such as pulled pork, cheesesteak or two pretzel hot dogs. $5 Meal Deals selections include turkey BLT, chicken salad or two hot dogs.
“Our restaurant concept is to offer clean, fast and friendly service — all with gourmet menu items,” Lochrane says.
Joyce Hanz is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.