Ice Cold, 42 Flavors of Nostalgia

Neighborhood Joint

A series of articles profiling favorite local haunts.
What’s your neighborhood joint?

Riffle back through your memories, and you’re bound to recall an old friend who has been there through all the milestones, whose very name is synonymous with simpler times. Russell Irushalmi has that kind of dear pal, whom he muscles through Queens traffic to see as often as possible: the Lemon Ice King of Corona.

“I’ve been coming here since I’m a baby,” Mr. Irushalmi, 41, said last Sunday evening as the sinking sun cast a warm glow over the Lemon Ice King, a temple to Italian ice that Peter Benfaremo built 67 years ago after returning from World War II and taking over his father’s small ice stand.

Mr. Benfaremo, the King in the store’s name, died in 2008. But Mr. Irushalmi still drives from Bayside to 108th Street in Corona to take part in what is arguably the defining summer ritual for anyone with even a remote connection to Central Queens: A smiling customer exchanges a few words, and a couple of dollars, with a polite teenager working a worn stainless steel counter, and a paper cup overflowing with smooth, perfectly sweet Italian ice is proffered with the care accorded a sacramental wafer.

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