The farewell celebration for Fosters Freeze on Wednesday, Sept. 30, attracted no less than a marching band, a TV crew, and a crowd of people substantial enough to consume the entirety of the shop's remaining ice cream supply within an hour.
Fosters Freeze first opened in Menlo Park in 1949, according to the Menlo Park Historical Association, and closed its service windows to customers for the last time at approximately 7:30 p.m. Wednesday evening when the last of the hamburger buns in stock had been served.
Doug Anderson, an organizer of the Los Trancos Woods Marching Band, visited Fosters Freeze, located at 580 Oak Grove Ave., about half a block east of El Camino Real in Menlo Park, last week and said that the place had been a "home away from home" for his two sons. He reached out to other members of the band and successfully gathered 18 performers, who played at the farewell.
Even after the ice cream ran out, visitors waited in line just to say their goodbyes to the Lee family, the owners of the shop. Large pieces of poster paper taped to the wall of the building were quickly filled with colorful "Thank yous" and notes of appreciation for the Lees.
The party was organized by Menlo Park resident Laurie Gallagher, who in 2006 circulated a petition with her two sons to save Fosters Freeze when it was then threatened by development plans. The petition garnered 1,000 signatures, she said. When the Lees put up the sign several weeks ago that they would be closing the store, she wanted to do something special to say goodbye.
"(The Lees) have been so wonderful and we're so grateful to them for keeping it going for 30 years," she said. "I couldn't let it go without giving it the send-off it deserves."
According to one of Ms. Gallagher's sons, Brady Gallagher, who at age 13 also gathered signatures for the petition to save Fosters Freeze in 2006, "Menlo Park is becoming this ridiculous place where no one can afford to run a small business."
"There'll never be another Fosters or anything like it in Menlo Park," he said.