Quantcast

Double Rainbow Ice Cream returning to the Castro, where it all began

Double Rainbow will be opening at 415 Castro St. | Photo: Sarah MacLaughlin/Instagram
By Steven Bracco - Published on June 25, 2020.

More than 40 years ago, Double Rainbow Ice Cream was founded in the Castro. Now, it's set to return to the neighborhood. 

Later this summer, the ice cream company will be opening a scoop shop in the former Sunglasses on Castro space (415 Castro St.) — just two doors down from where it all started in the 1970s. (That space is now home to Hot Cookie.)

"This was the community and neighborhood that gave us our start, and we're so excited to return full circle," said president and CEO Taryn Segal. 

Double Rainbow will open two doors down from its original location, which is now home to Hot Cookie. | Photo: Steven Bracco/Hoodline

Double Rainbow was founded by Segal's father, Michael Sachar, and his childhood friend, Steven Fink. As the story goes, the ice cream shop was named after a double rainbow that appeared on the day Sacher and Fink signed the lease — September 28, 1976.

The brand went on to own and operate many more stores throughout the Bay Area in the '80s and '90s. It also launched a line of packaged ice cream, which is still sold at local stores like Safeway and Rainbow Market. 

Over the years, the Double Rainbow brand shifted more to manufacturing and distribution, franchising the scoop shops to their longtime managers. According to Segal, the Castro Double Rainbow shop transitioned to an independent owner sometime in the late '80s, and all the shops were franchises by the early '90s. 

It's unclear exactly when the Castro Double Rainbow closed. Hot Cookie opened in 1997.

In this photo from 1982, Double Rainbow can be seen behind the Muni coach. | Photo: San francisco history center/sfpl

While independent ice cream shops in San Rafael, Benicia and San Pablo still offer Double Rainbow ice cream, this will be the company's first foray into owning its own shop in nearly three decades. Segal plans to keep it simple: cups, cones, shakes and sundaes.

"We’ve been a little bit under the radar," she said. "We're looking forward to opening our store and reintroducing those that don’t know us, and welcoming back those that grew up with us."

Segal herself joined the company 11 years ago. Both the founders passed away in the 2010s — her father in 2013, and Fink in 2017. 

"Who wouldn't want to make ice cream with their dad for a living?" said Segal. "I learned so much from him along the way."

The Castro Double Rainbow sign appears in this undated historical photo. | Photo: courtesy of Taryn Segal

While Double Rainbow manufactured its ice cream out of a Mission District warehouse (275 South Van Ness Ave.) for 40 years, it moved production to Emeryville last year. 

The Castro location will boast 16 flavors made at the Emeryville facility, including classics like French Vanilla, Ultra Chocolate, Coffee Blast and It's a Goody (vanilla with fudge chips and peanut butter).

Some fan favorites will also make return appearances, like White Pistachio, Cappuccino Chocolate Crunch, and Cinnamon Caramel. Plant-based flavors will be offered for those who can't eat dairy. 

While the Castro Fountain is just a block away, Segal thinks there's plenty of room for another ice cream shop in the neighborhood.

"The more ice cream, the better," she said. "We should all carve out a moment in our day to enjoy a little more sweetness."

Photo: Double Rainbow/Instagram

Technically, the new scoop shop isn't Double Rainbow's first return to the Castro.

When the Oscar-winning Harvey Milk biopic "Milk" shot in the neighborhood in 2008, Hot Cookie had its sign temporarily redone to resemble Double Rainbow's look in Milk's '70s heyday.

Double Rainbow briefly reappeared in 2008. | Photo: wilson Hardcastle/flickr

The return of Double Rainbow also brings some much-needed good news to the 400 block of Castro, which has struggled in the past year.

Four businesses on the block have permanently closed — Park Gyros (449 Castro), Sweet Castro (451 Castro), Socialhaus/Flying Falafel (463 Castro), and Slurp Noodle Bar (469 Castro). Another two, Q Bar (456 Castro) and Osaka Sushi (460 Castro), are still undergoing renovations after being damaged in a four-alarm fire last November.

About 15 hours ago
San Francisco Castro

Castro Bank of America prohibits memorials from being affixed to the building [Updated]

Castro residents are up in arms after Bank of America (501 Castro St.) installed signs last week alerting residents and community members that posters, signs, and other materials could no longer be placed on the building — after decades during which the corner of the building at 18th and Castro has been a communal space for memorials to the recently deceased. Read More

Jan 15, 2021
San Francisco Castro

LA-based deli Heroic Italian opens pop-up in Castro with delicious sandwiches and salads

Los Angeles-based sandwich outfit Heroic Italian recently got its feet wet in the Bay Area, launching a pop-up in mid-December inside wine and spirits shop Swirl on Castro (572 Castro Street). With online ordering available, it's a quick and delicious lunch or dinner option — and if you pick it up yourself rather than opting for DoorDash delivery, you can snag a bottle of wine too. Read More

Jan 14, 2021
San Francisco Financial District Union Square

Marshalls store in the Financial District to close on January 30

SF’s only Marshalls location has its days numbered, as the discount apparel retailer will close its Market Street store. Read More

Jan 13, 2021
San Francisco Bayview Hunters Point Polk

Two new homeless Navigation Centers announced for Bayview and Polk Gulch

Supportive housing for more 115 people is coming to a Bayview parking lot, while 43 beds will be available at Post and Hyde Streets.] Read More