Hoyer’s Ice Cream Confectionary had been in operation at 1110 Washington Street for nearly a decade when it fell into bankruptcy during the Great Depression. The new buyers, Dora and Henry Schnackenberg, were German immigrants, married just two years. They were taking a gamble. But Henry had been an apprentice at an ice cream parlor in Jersey City and knew the ropes.
The luncheonette was in a good location, and by the 1940s, business was booming: the new Maxwell House coffee plant in Hoboken, then the largest in the world, and Bethlehem Steel Shipyards, which had tens of thousands of employees engaged in the war effort, brought hungry and thirsty patrons to Schnackenberg’s Luncheonette at lunchtime. And in the evening, teenage girls and boys would come in to sit in booths and flirt and drink flavored cokes. Older adults came, too, to have ice cream after a long day.
Business began to fall off in the 1960s, as manufacturing declined in the city, but the luncheonette remained, and Dora even lowered prices in consideration of her loyal customers. Those customers—mostly older residents—continued to frequent Schnackenberg’s until its closure in 2019. “I say, when I was young, it was a teenage hangout,” recalled Dorothy Silvani, one of Dora and Henry’s daughters. “Now it’s a senior citizen hangout. But I love that, when they come in, and the whole counter is talking to each other… Where else can you go and have that? And even if you come in here a stranger, you’re not a stranger very long.”