Martha’s Dandee Creme Is, Well, Dandy

Photo by Evi Fisher

There’s a story to the plexiglass rooster that sits on top of the neon sign at Martha’s Dandee Creme and Grill in Queensbury, New York.

In 1946 Martha Schoelermann left her Long Island home with a friend to visit Lake George, a small town in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York.

The mountains surrounding the 32-mile-long lake entranced her; the serenity of the fresh air soothed her. Schoelermann didn’t want to leave, so after returning to Long Island, she turned around and brought her father to look at property.

Together, they bought a 100-acre chicken farm a few miles south of Lake George Village. Martha and her new husband, Carlton Freiberger, then remodeled the bottom floor of the farmhouse, and turned it into a successful restaurant. The couple lived above the restaurant and raised four children, and they expanded. First, they razed the chicken coops and built vacation cabins for the area’s many tourists. And then they opened an ice cream stand that soon turned into a must-do stop for locals and visitors alike: Martha’s Dandee Creme.

Now, on any day between March and early October, hundreds of customers line up outside the five windows at Martha’s, patiently waiting for the famous soft-service ice cream served in crunchy cones covered either in sprinkles or one of the many dip flavors. The long white building is brightly decorated with menus urging customers to drench their ice cream in rich, hot fudge, fluffy whipped cream, and a cherry on top.

Photo by Jack Vogel

Travelers on Route 9 might now have a hard time missing Martha’s. Near the red-and-white rooster sit four fountains that spit water at one another. On one side of the building are blue tables with umbrellas for warm-weather customers, while a large gazebo with ceiling heaters sits on the other side for resilient ice cream lovers determined to stay warm on cold upstate days. A small grill attached to the stand serves food to those with an appetite for more than just dessert.

In 1982, after more than thirty years of business, Martha and Carlton Freiberger sold their ice cream stand to Roger and Lena Lafontaine, two longtime customers. In 1999, the Lafontaine’s sold the business to the Six Flags amusement park company, which in turn, owned and operated it for 10 years. Then, in 2009, Dennis Lafontaine, the son of Roger and Lena Lafontaine, bought the restaurant back from Six Flags.

Today, Dennis Lafontaine and his family continue to operate the ice cream stand, which is across the street from the amusement park. The family rebuilt the restaurant to start serving food again, and their efforts haven’t gone unnoticed.

“The entire Lafontaine family is so sweet and genuinely care about every employee,” said one summer employee, Maddi Talbot. “They are crazy about good customer service.”

In 1946, Martha Schoelermann wasn’t expecting to fall in love when she went to Lake George for the first time. Both Lake George locals and visitors are now very glad she did.

Photo by Emily Fisher
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