By the time Thomas Bennett arrives at his old-fashioned ice cream shop on Fillmore Street, a group of customers have already flocked to the entrance, waiting.
“He’s here!” one of them announces, causing the others perk up and direct their attention toward the longtime owner of the shop.
Bennett steps out of his car and waves hello to the Sunday morning regulars. Holding a plastic sack filled with cartons of cigarettes in one hand and a stack of newspapers in the other, he makes his way to the neapolitan-colored entryway, unhurried. Above him, hand-painted signs advertise ice cream sodas, banana splits and award-winning milkshakes. “Any way you wish, any flavor you wish” beckons to the eager clientele in swirling script.
Behind the counter, the 81-year-old proprietor of Miyako Ice Cream hoists gallon bins of ice cream into the frosty cooler, stopping occasionally to adjust his suspenders as he methodically prepares each of their orders. Two heaping scoops of avocado and ube ice cream. An $8.99 pack of Marlboro cigarettes. A hot deli sandwich with potato salad and nachos for $3.95 – arguably the cheapest lunch deal in San Francisco.