Pietro and Luisa Rossi moved from Consett, County Durham to Southend in 1932 to start
an Ice Cream business with a local family, also called Rossi. They started trading
at 1 Marine Parade, 37 High Street, and Western Esplanade.
The partnership was dissolved in 1937 and Pietro Rossi kept 1 Marine Parade and Western
Esplanade together with a small kiosk along Westcliff Seafront. Their eldest daughters,
Gemma and Maria, helped in the business whilst their youngest daughter Lolanda and
only son Tony attended the Sacred Heart School, Southchurch. Lolanda then attended
St. Bernards School until the outbreak of war and Tony was sent to a boarding school
The War Years
The family manufactured Ice Cream from 1 Marine Parade, Southend until 1939 at which
time they had to vacate their premises as the seafront area was closed for military
Luisa and her two youngest children spent the war years in Italy, whilst Pietro and
Maria remained in England, Gemma having married in 1937 to an ice cream businessman
in Portsmouth. Pietro Rossi was interned as an alien on the Isle of Wight and Maria
worked as a waitress to support her father.
The end of the war saw the familiy re-united in 1946 and they resumed their business
interests in Southend, selling ice cream from Marine Parade and their two sites along
Western Esplanade. The 1950s and 1960s saw their business flourish and to cope with
the demand, they built an Ice Cream factory in Lucy Road, Southend in 1967.
Luisa died in 1957 and Pietro died in 1968, their children having taken over the
reins some years earlier. Rossi Ice Cream had now become a favourite with locals
and visitors. Their Western Esplanade premises was a local landmark and attracted
thousands of visitors every year. In 1969 they aquired a kiosk at the top end of
Southend High Street, which proved to be a very busy site in the summer months and
demand was always high for their traditional vanilla ice cream served from stainless
barrels using the ‘spoon’ to dish up the ice cream on the cone. Maria Rossi, by then
Maria Fontauzzi was invited onto The Generation Game in 1983 to demonstrate this
method of serving ice cream.
Tradition Meets Modernity
Following the deaths of Maria, Lolanda and Tony, Lolanda’s widower Reg Dimascio sold
the factory and kiosk and leased out the Marine Parade Shop in January 2006. The
business continues under new ownership manufacturing Ice Cream from Lucy Road to
the same traditional recipe first introduced by Pietro Rossi in 1932.
Awards and Diplomas
In 1987 Rossi won the top award in a national competition for Vanilla Ice Cream and
in 1993 another top award for their famous Rum and Raisin Ice Cream. In 2007 Rossi
Ice Cream won the gold trophy for the UK's top lemon sorbet and continues to win
awards and diplomas year after year.