Midtown History: Chuck Osborn
Written by Stepheny McGraw

Photo by Sharon
It is 10:30 in the morning and 49 degrees outside, but inside Baskin Robbins, Chuck Osborne is putting ice cream in the glass fronted coolers for the afternoon rush. Since 1998, Chuck has continued the traditions begun in 1952 when Ken Napolitano first opened the Midtown store and carried on next in 1967 by Wilson Nichols (who owned the video store next door until his recent passing) then Chuck.

Most kids who grow up in Midtown remember fondly the Birthday Club which got you a free ice cream cone on your birthday. You could bring your dog along for that cone and the dog, too, might get his own small bowl of ice cream. After soccer, softball, basketball, to celebrate a victory or console for a defeat, neighborhood teams have always trekked there and lined up for their just desserts. These days though you register for the Birthday Club online. And then there is that new tradition of $1 scoops on Tuesday evenings, starting at 6 PM.

Now, after more than a decade of scooping, Chuck is retiring at the end of January to travel and practice his avocation, the triathlon, as well as spend more time at his local YMCA in San Carlos/Belmont. He will have more time for his three times a week EACH of swimming, bicycling and running. Past President of the Mt. View Rotary, he will continue his decades long service with the club as its secretary.

So how does a boy grow up to have his own ice cream store? After spending many years at the "Y" as kid, he went to George Williams College in Chicago for four years and studied group work at the college named after the 1816 London YMCA founder. A native of Orange County, one of Chuck's earliest jobs was at the carnation place at Disneyland and then, naturally, when he moved up to the Bay Area as a director of a local YMCA. He also put in a stint at Mervyn's, but knew that he would eventually have his own small business, like his father and sister.

An ice cream store is "a happy place" and he seized the opportunity to buy the Baskin and Robbins on Middlefield Road in Mt. View in 1992. The YMCA group training made him the ideal mentor for boys and girls whose first job was behind the ice cream counter - and for those of us who were on the other side of the counter as well.

Return to
MRA Home Page