Page Dairy Mart on Pittsburgh's South Side celebrating 70 years of sweet treats (2024)

At 10 years old, Chuck Page began working for the family business.

He cleaned milkshake collars — stainless steel attachments used to keep ice cream from splattering from the top of a paper cup when blending ingredients.

Fifty-seven years later, he’s still at the milkshake machine.

“I love ice cream,” said Page, whose great-grandfather Charles Alexander Page founded Page Dairy Mart in 1951. It’s located at the corner of Becks Run Road and East Carson Street on Pittsburgh’s South Side. His great-great-grandfather bought the land from the Hays family in 1916. The Page family is from West Mifflin.

“I don’t mind cleaning those collars. It’s a necessary part of the business,” he said. “It’s what you do to keep things going.”

Page Dairy Mart on Pittsburgh's South Side celebrating 70 years of sweet treats (1)

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop | Tribune-Review

Chuck Page, whose great-grandfather founded Page Dairy Mart on Pittsburgh’s South Side in 1951, adds ingredients into a cup for a milkshake on March 8.

Page Dairy Mart opened Friday for its 70th season.

That’s a lot of milkshakes.

“We have quality products, and we use the best ingredients,” said Page, as he mixed a South Side Milkshake on Monday — that’s a combination of a milkshake with a sundae on top.

One reason the business has endured seven decades is because of the fresh baked goods used to make the sundaes, such as moist brownies, soft cinnamon buns and large pieces of the famously huge 4-inch-wide chocolate chip cookies from Nancy B’s Bakery in West Homestead. Page’s collaborates with Waffallonia in Squirrel Hill for the Belgian waffle sundae.

“We have products you can’t get anywhere else,” said Page’s daughter, Margie Page Prusia, who purchased the business from her dad with her husband, Jared, in March 2020.

The ice cream shop shut down because of the pandemic 10 days later. When it reopened for online ordering, there were 40 orders in the first minute.

The shop is a destination, said Chuck Page, who works for his daughter now.

“It will be snowing and people will be waiting in line,” he said. “There was a woman the other day who was wearing a parka with a fur hood and gloves, but when she got her ice cream, she smiled. This is a happy business.”

He said there is nothing better than a warm apple dumpling, cinnamon bun, brownie or chocolate chip cookie with ice cream topped in hot fudge or caramel and whipped cream.

“Ice cream is just a simple pleasure,” Chuck Page said.

Mike Runco, owner of Nancy B’s Cookies, said he and Chuck Page support each other.

“I enjoy the camaraderie of working with him,” Runco said. “I have learned so much from him because he knows how to run a business. Businesses like ours have to band together to make it. His ice cream and our cookies are the perfect combination.”

The ice cream shop is traditionally open from March to late October. This past offseason they installed a sound system to play music while customers wait. The first two days, they went through 324 chocolate chip cookies. They average 4,000 cones a month in spring and fall and 6,000 or more a month in summer. They’ve been known to wait on 60 people in 15 minutes and will take care of customers after closing time.

“My father taught me that you never turn away business,” Chuck Page said. “Pittsburgh is a part of who we are. We take pride in our city and appreciate every customer.”

They certainly do, said Dennis Brooks Jr. of Beltzhoover.

“Mr. Page is incredible,” Brooks said. “He has always believed in diversity and including everyone. I’ve been a customer since at least 1995. The staff is great. They know me by name.”

Page Dairy Mart on Pittsburgh's South Side celebrating 70 years of sweet treats (2)

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop | Tribune-Review

Anthony Morell dispenses vanilla ice cream into a cup at Page Dairy Mart on Pittsburgh’s South Side on March 8.

Anthony Morell has worked at the shop for four years.

“I really like the environment here,” he said, as he made a chocolate chip cookie sundae.

Page’s also serves cones, ice cream sandwiches and “Arctic Swirls” — ice cream combined with candies (Oreos, Butterfinger, Heath Bars and Reese’s Cups) and other goodies such as cookie dough, and cinnamon toast crunch and banana bread.

Page Dairy Mart is located at 4112 E. Carson St., South Side.

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a TribLive reporter covering the region’s diverse culinary scene and unique homes. She writes features about interesting people. The Edward R. Murrow award-winning journalist began her career as a sports reporter. She has been with the Trib for 26 years and is the author of “A Daughter’s Promise.” She can be reached at jharrop@triblive.com.

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Page Dairy Mart on Pittsburgh's South Side celebrating 70 years of sweet treats (2024)
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