After many years of serving the community, Foster’s Freeze on Oak Grove Avenue is closing its doors. The franchise started in 1946 when George Foster opened the first location in Inglewood, California, a shop that is still open today. Foster had acquired the California Dairy Queen franchise, however California’s strict dairy laws prohibited him from naming it Dairy Queen. Instead, Foster started his own chain of soft serve shops that many communities have come to know and love.
After opening a few more locations, Foster’s Freeze gained popularity and became a franchise. Shortly after, Foster sold the business to Meyenberg Milk Products, helping Foster’s Freeze become even more successful. When the franchise began to fall behind others in fast food, Meyenberg helped each location update, remodel, and expand in order to support the sale of hamburgers and hot dogs. After this change, Foster’s Freeze was able to increase its profits and compete more closely with other chains.
Now, multiple locations are closing all over California, including Los Angeles, San Luis Obispo, and now Menlo Park. The local community has expressed widespread sadness over the end of such a tradition.
Freshman Naomi Fuson remembers “when [she] was in elementary school on the basketball team and [they] always used to go after games. It was a good celebration,” she continued, cheering them up when they lost. Many recall buying soft serve with their friends after practice, school, or simply any time they craved ice cream.
Nathalie Camens, a sophomore, says “I remember going to Foster’s Freeze after cross country practice with my friends. It was nice to be able to relax after a hard workout. It’s really good soft-serve ice cream, the best. It’s really sad [that they’re closing] because I had a lot of memories there.” Surely many people in Menlo Park will mourn the loss of this ice cream shop that was so involved in the memories of so many.
On Wednesday, Foster’s Freeze served free ice cream to everyone as a gift to the Menlo Park community on their last night of business. Marie Davis travelled from Foster City tonight in order to say goodbye to the owners and the business. Davis’s husband works at the Skilled Nursing Center nearby, and she has bought an ice cream cone just about every day since. She remembers “sitting at the tables with my relatives after visiting with my husband and coming back and having a cone…These are things that lift your spirits.”
Another faithful customer, Rick Weslen, has been coming to Foster’s Freeze since 1956, when the original owner sold him a cone for five cents. Weslen went on to work at this location, eventually adding his original chocolate banana milkshake to the menu. Although he hadn’t been to Foster’s Freeze in a long time, Weslen came back Wednesday to pay his respects as well.
Places like this are like a historical touchstone in a community.
While many people have been flocking to Foster’s Freeze this past week for one last cone, Menlo Park city council member Ray Mueller has been hard at work trying to create a solution to keep this part of history alive. When asked about his reasons for working to save the shop, Mueller gestured toward the line that curved behind the shop and into the street. “They’re representative of all these different generations who came here when they were kids, who started having kids of their own, who are now bringing their grandkids here,” says Mueller. “Places like this are like a historical touchstone in a community.”
Currently, the most likely option is to expand the snack bar at Burgess field and include the signs and aesthetic elements from Foster’s Freese. Although Mueller mentioned that it would be a tough process, he is willing to do everything he can to save this historic piece of Menlo Park’s history.
Photos by Jack Beasley.