More Than Just Ice Cream's run in Washington Square West — which has spanned at least 43 years and countless calories — will end Sept. 27.
Rachelle Capistrano-Sorg said she and her business partner, Dalton Castano, who bought the business at 1119 Locust St. 10 years ago, said they simply want to start new chapters in their lives — she to spend more time with her 3-year-old daughter and Castano with a new spouse.
"It came time to renew the lease and we started to think about it," she said last week. She added that while they had nibbles from prospective buyers, nothing panned out.
This will mark the end of one of Center City's oldest restaurants, which traces its roots to a business that opened in the early 1970s as Just Ice Cream, 1141 Pine St. Longtime owner Kay Helsel bought the business in 1973 and in 1975 changed the name to More Than Just Ice Cream to reflect its broader menu.
Capistrano-Sorg and Castano had long, deep ties to MTJIC, known for its "mile high" apple pie with its layers of thin-sliced apples, its fluffy key lime pie, and honest comfort food including gazpacho, burgers, and grilled-cheese sandwiches.
Before buying the business in 2008, Capistrano had worked for 11 years for previous owner Brian Daly at the restaurant's Pine Street location. Castano was the first employee hired on Locust Street in February 1998.
"This was a huge part of our lives," Capistrano-Sorg said. "This has been a family, more than a business. We've seen kids grow up, go to college, and come back with their families."
Helsel decorated the shop in old-time kitsch — befitting its location on Pine Street's row of antiques shops. (It's now Mixto.) The story goes that customers caught notice of her pies set out to cool in the window. As she progressively made them taller and taller, business increased accordingly, and she expanded into savory food. She died in 1992.