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Food & Drink

Best Ice Cream 

Joe's Ice Cream

Get your scoops of 42 homemade flavors while you can, as a nonrenewable lease may force the Murashige family from the popular Richmond District ice cream parlor and grill that has been a landmark on the corner of Geary and 18th since World War II. Mutsuhiko Murashige bought Joe's when he immigrated to San Francisco from Japan in the late 1970s, preserving the original recipes of now long-forgotten but classic flavors like rum raisin, butter brickle, and root beer swirl. Murashige, who makes all the ice cream himself on site in a glass booth for everyone to see, also added some of his own Asian-inspired flavors. His wife, Aki, cooks at home the adzuki beans that Murashige uses in the ice cream. Their 20-year-old son, Satsuki, helps out as the soda jerk. But Satsuki, a student at City College, has dreams of being a filmmaker, not to follow his father as the proprietor of an ice cream parlor. "I pretty much grew up in the store, so I declined respectfully. I don't want to get stuck here," he says. Beginning in 1945, the parlor was the original Bud's Ice Cream, until Bud's relocated and Joe took over in 1959. When Murashige bought the store in 1979, he decided to keep the name "Joe's." The real Joe is still alive and stops by occasionally for a cone. Murashige and his wife hope to relocate somewhere else in the Richmond District when their lease expires next year and continue serving homemade flavors -- like fresh mango in the summer, or pumpkin in the fall -- until they are ready to retire. But they may have to quit sooner if they cannot find a place. "We don't want to do that," Aki says. "There are too many loyal customers who would be upset." Indeed.

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