Gus and Yia Yia’s Cart Joins Carnegie Science Center Rail Exhibit


November is traditionally not a month to think of a refreshing scoop of ice cream.

That doesn’t stop the Carnegie Science Center from honoring a traditional Pittsburgh favorite. He announced on Wednesday that the Gus & YiaYia Ice Ball Cart is the latest model to be added to the Miniature Railroad & Village.

The familiar bright orange cart with the rainbow-colored umbrella has been a West Park staple on the north side since 1934.

The tiny replica will be unveiled to the media on November 17. The exhibit, which is currently being refreshed, will open to the public on November 18.

“Gus and YiaYia and the Ice Cream Scoop Cart are known and loved by the people of Western Pennsylvania, and especially those of us who work and live in the North Side community and have been fortunate enough. for having him so close for so many years, ”said Jason Brown, director Henry Buhl Jr. of the Carnegie Science Center, via email. “With all that his family has done for the community over the past 88 years, it is only fitting that he is a highlight of Pittsburgh history at the Miniature Railroad & Village.”

The cart is still managed by Gus Kalaris. He marked seven decades this summer. The business started with his parents, George and Pauline, who sold popcorn, peanuts and “scoops of ice cream” – flavored treats made from crushed ice.

Gus Kalaris and his late wife, Stella, took over the wagon in 1951.

Their popularity increased to the point where the Pittsburgh City Council declared April 25, 2012 Gus & YiaYia Day.

The original YiaYia – a term for “grandmother” in Greek – was Gus’ mother, Pauline, although the honor was later given to Stella. Stella loved being around children so much that the family established the annual Stella Kalaris scholarship after her death in 2016.

Gus Kalaris turned 89 in January.

Kalaris, who lives in Brighton Heights, makes the flavors – a mixture of simple syrup with food coloring and extract. The ice comes in 50 pound blocks from DiMartino Ice Co. in Jeannette.

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop | Tribune-Review

Gus Kalaris shaves a 50-pound block of ice at Gus & Yia Yia’s on the North Side of Pittsburgh in April. The iconic booth will be part of the Miniature Railroad & Village at the Carnegie Science Center.

Kalaris said his father charged 3 cents for a scoop of ice cream so he could compete with that of Isaly. The cost today is $ 1.25.

Kalaris survived kidney cancer in 1998 and a quadruple heart bypass surgery in 1999. He also underwent knee replacement surgery. He said he lost 45 days of business last year due to the pandemic. His wife, their children and grandchildren worked with him. The couple had two daughters and four grandchildren. The first great-grandchild was born in July.

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is the editor of Tribune-Review. You can contact JoAnne at 724-853-5062, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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