Wall’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream is a South Miami community staple

Owner Felipe Grabiel outside of Wall’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream as customers order their treats. (Chelsea Marino / SFMN)

Wall’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream is more than merely an ice cream shop, it’s a community staple for South Miami.

Dozens of stores closed during the pandemic but owner Felipe Grabiel made sure that Wall’s didn’t suffer the same fate.

Grabiel, 46, added a window service to keep providing the community a fun place for delicious ice cream.

The window option kept the shop open, and outdoor seating made customers feel safe.

Grabiel said he’s “happy that we’re still here and we never had to shut down.”

The ice cream shop, which Grabiel has owned for about six years, has been a part of the South Miami community for decades.

He never thought of owning an ice cream store but after joking about it with his wife, he looked into it.

“I half-heartedly kind of started looking into it and realized that it was a viable business opportunity for me,” he said.

Wall’s is no ordinary ice cream shop.

The shop serves traditional-style ice cream scooped out of a tub.

“It’s nothing fancy, nothing new, just classic flavors well done and served correctly,” said Grabiel. 

The shop added shakes, sundaes, malts and old-school sodas to the menu.

The vintage-inspired décor plays a part in bringing a sense of nostalgia to the shop, a reminder of simpler times, with red-and-white striped awnings, a checkerboard floor and old-school seating.

The interior of the shop displays pictures of people who are part of the community and who have participated in their “Great Wall Challenge.” 

To win the “Great Wall Challenge” customers must finish six pounds of ice cream.

It has 32 scoops of various ice cream flavors, brownies, bananas, hot fudge, caramel, dry topping, whipped cream and a cherry on top.

People who meet the challenge have their picture displayed on the “Wall of Fame,” those who don’t end up on the “Wall of Shame.” 

The community only has eyes for Wall’s.

Valentina Castro, 21, tried Wall’s ice cream because family members told her to try the best ice cream in South Miami. 

Castro wasn’t used to the creamy richness of Wall’s ice cream, but she said it was good and tasty.

“I understand why they have been there so long and why they have a long line,” said Castro. 

Grabiel said he strives to not be a scoop-and-go ice cream shop because he wants people to slow down and reconnect with family.

“I want them to sit down, relax and enjoy listening to music, play some of the games that we have outside and enjoy the really beautiful weather we have and just take a moment,” said Grabiel.

Castro said that the shop is a good place to hang out with family and friends especially with ice cream in your hand as the sun sets.

Grabiel called Wall’s “his ice cream shop” and brought his daughters there even before he owned it.

“This has been in this neighborhood for years, it’s a community staple,” said Grabiel.

Ty Maschke, 17, applied to work at the shop two years ago because he had been going there since he was a child.

“It’s nice that you can build a community here,” he said. “Everyone I meet usually has a memory of coming here when they were younger.”

Grabiel said that the customers express their love for the ice cream shop by thanking him for still being there. 

“This is almost like a little bit of a community center for South Miami,” he said. “People have been coming here for years and it’s just the right location on the right spot.” 

Wall’s remains open to help the community through difficult or stressful times, like during hurricane season.

The shop only closes on Thanksgiving to give employees time to be with their families.

Wall’s is open on Christmas afternoon so families can go and spend their time with the Wall’s team. 

“This is more than just an ice cream shop, it’s part of the family,” said Grabiel.

Chelsea Marino is majoring in journalism with a certificate in music business at Florida International University. She has a passion for music and sports