Family Flavor Returns to Iconic Ice Cream Stand
For ten years, Martha’s Dandee Cream was owned by Six Flags, until recently one of the world’s largest owners and operators of amusement parks.
Tourists may not have known there was any difference between the ice cream sold by employees of a multi-national corporation and the cones served by the Freibergers and the Lafontaines, the two families who owned the stand from the 1930s through 1999.
Locals and long-time visitors, however, were acutely aware of the differences.
Gone were the days when their favorite flavor of ice cream was already in a dish or cone by the time they reached the front of the line. For any number of other reasons, things just weren’t the same.
But now things are indeed just the same. Beth and Dennis LaFontaine purchased Martha’s from Six Flags, putting the ice cream stand back into the hands of the family that owned it for almost two decades.
“This is where I’m comfortable,” says Dennis, who helped run the business from the day he graduated from high school to the day it was sold. “I love the interaction with people.”
The diner where Lafontaine once served 500 breakfasts a day (and where he wore a groove in the linoleum frying eggs), has yet to re-open, but it will sometime soon, perhaps by next summer.
“Our first objective was to get the ice cream business back on its feet,” Dennis says.
That’s an objective that has been met, he said.
“It’s been a phenomenal year, despite the fact that we had two of the rainiest months in history,” he said. NBC’s decision to feature the ice cream stand on the Today Show certainly helped, said Beth LaFontaine.
“Sarah Gore, an NBC host and contributor, is from Queensbury, and she’s a big fan of Martha’s,” said LaFontaine. “She was asked to list her favorite places in the Lake George area, and Martha’s was first on the list.”
According to Dennis LaFontaine, the appearance on the Today Show has attracted new customers from throughout New England and the Capital District. That burst of renewed attention may help the LaFontaines with their latest project: selling ice cream cakes in local supermarkets.
Those locally-made favorites are now available at Hannaford’s, LaFontaine said. And the ice cream stand will be open longer this year so that local residents will be able to enjoy their favorite flavors even after summer is over.