Why The Rooster?
One famous resident of the property was a rooster named Charlie. Probably a leftover from the chicken farm, Charlie would delight patrons of the restaurant by walking up and down the ledge outside of the windows. It was Charlie who inspired the huge rooster on the property’s sign.
In the late ’70s and early ’80s, the Lafontaine family from Connecticut vacationed at the Wakita Lodge, directly across from Martha’s. Dennis Lafontaine remembers going over to Martha’s for meals. While Martha and Carl Freiberger had built a successful business, health issues forced them into the decision to sell it.
In 1982, coming from a catering business, Roger and Lena Lafontaine bought Martha’s property and well-established business, and with their three children, Robert, Michelle, and Dennis, they operated the restaurant and ice cream stand for the next 17 years, serving the ice cream that Martha and Carl made famous. They lived in the house that was the original Martha’s restaurant and continued to operate the cabin colony, the restaurant, ice cream stand, and a motel they built later.
Under the Lafontaine ownership, the restaurant always offered breakfast and for a time, lunch and dinner. At the end of their ownership it was just open for breakfast. There is a worn patch of linoleum in front of the grill that Dennis Lafontaine, the current owner, claims he made, being the short order cook for many years, never missing a day’s work, even after he broke his leg one afternoon.
In the early 1990s, the Lafontaine boys built the large motel behind the restaurant. It replaced many of the cabins as the ice cream trade continued to thrive. The restaurant was open for breakfast and “The Grill” provided a food choices for customers when it opened in 1996. The choices were hamburgers, hot dogs, and other sandwiches plus fries, other sides and drinks. There was outside patio seating, and for dessert — ice cream next door.
Sometime in the late 1990s, the Great Escape’s parent company, Six Flags, began buying up properties on the west side of Route 9. In 1999 the Lafontaines decided to sell everything to the Great Escape and with a five-year “no compete” clause, the Lafontaines were out of the ice cream business, temporarily.
Family Flavor Returns to the Iconic Ice Cream Stand
Beth and Dennis LaFontaine purchased Martha’s from Six Flags in 2009, putting the ice cream stand back into the hands of the family that owned it for almost two decades and for Lafontaine generations to come!