Effort to save the Foster’s Freeze building begins in Menlo Park

by Linda Hubbard on September 14, 2015

Ray Mueller, who is currently serving on the Menlo Park City Council, emails that he’s “reached out to the new Foster’s Freeze building owners, and they have agreed to work with the community and not tear down the building in the immediate future while a group of residents and myself search for a new viable location for the building in Menlo Park.”

The vision is to refurbish the building to its original glory and keep it serving Menlo’s families and youth as a retro-style ice cream business. Ray underscores that the City is not involved in this effort at this time.

The business is scheduled to close on September 30th.

If you would are interested in participating, you should email Ray: menlo.mueller@gmail.com.

Photo by Chris Gulker (c) 2009


Chip Larrimore September 14, 2015 at 10:51 am

We have lost so much of the old Menlo Park. Preserving our past is not a denial of the need to change and grow. It is a recognition that who we are today needs to be informed by our common history. Restoring and relocating Foster’s Freeze may seem like a silly gesture, but it is not. The demolition of the Park Theater was a tremendous loss to the historical awareness of Menlo Park residents. Don’t let this happen again.

Colleen Flood September 14, 2015 at 3:49 pm

wow – hearing horrible stories about the bay area and how its changed. I only moved from san jose a year ago…things changed that quick?!!
what a shame!! The Park and the Guild theaters were my very first job when I was 13! that was 1989!! I am about to be I even have it on a t shirt and am wearing it right now. Always thought it was my boring job at that point – but seeing your first job gone!! what a shame!!

Carol Mince September 14, 2015 at 11:23 am

The Foster Freeze building has been slated for demolition for years. This last ditch effort to save that building is absurd. Saving old buildings ( with no architectural merit except they remind us of our childhood) serves no purpose.

Marie kavanugh September 14, 2015 at 12:24 pm

It not only provides memories of childhood but allows us to make new memories with my kids and grandkids just as I have memories there with my parents and their parents. The building is beautiful in the fact that it takes us back to a simpler time when buildings in Menlo didn’t have to be big or fancy to serve their purpose. Just as the old historic homes are being torn down to build monstrosities, so are all the old hangouts-one by one. It makes me sad to see the charm of Menlo disappear.

John Getze September 14, 2015 at 2:12 pm

I agree with Marie and Freda. Places like Kepler’s and the landmark theaters (the Park and the Guild) are what make Menlo unique and interesting compared to other suburbs. While Foster Freeze is certainly no cultural hotbed, it is certainly a great example of cool mid-century design and if possible should be preserved.

Freda Brown September 14, 2015 at 12:35 pm

As for the architecture, I think it is a great example of ordinary small business art deco .

Tim Johnston September 14, 2015 at 2:04 pm

The Park Theatre was too big to relocate and is now nothing more than an eyesore hole in the ground. What little small town character remains in Menlo needs to be preserved. If it can be relocated it should be. An absurd attempt to preserve small town memories? Hardly! Our town has little remaining distinctive character of any sort, and that is shameful.

Mary Way September 14, 2015 at 2:07 pm

please put me on a list of those interested in helping!

Matthew Smith September 14, 2015 at 2:44 pm

tearing all these buildings down we are destroying history we won’t have anything to show our kids or our grand kids what the old days we’re like.It’s A part of history foster’s has been there since the 50’s.I use to work at Cadillac and my uncle worked at mumfords body shop and every Friday for lunch I would meet him at foster’s. it’s sad to see all these old building getting torn down for new modern looking ones.

Bobbie Carcione September 14, 2015 at 2:46 pm

Foster’s Freeze may not be a fancy structure, but it is a part of what Menlo Park was and still is at its heart. So many people relate their visits there as part of their happy childhoods, whether now, 20 years ago, or 50 years ago. To save it would be to save a part of Menlo’s soul and its history. Instead of being another nondescript structure like the ones that now line the El Camino, it is a landmark from a happier, slower time that identifies who we were as a community, who we still are. Let’s give Ray our support and help him find a way to save this structure. It can be done! Let’s do it!

kevin September 14, 2015 at 3:17 pm

When I first moved from socal up that way i settled in Menlo Park for a bit. Oh how i loved getting ice crean there ! I see how much Menlo Park has changed ! How long has this Fosters been empty ?

Rob Riley September 15, 2015 at 1:19 am

Foster’s Freeze is still open until the end of September.

Lydia Cooper September 14, 2015 at 5:37 pm

As a member of the Menlo Park Historical Association, I agree with so many of the comments made regarding the change taking place in Menlo today. Out with the old, in with the new seems to be what is happening with our at-one-time charming town. Menlo Park has a rich history but unfortunately many do not realize it. MPHA’s goal is preserving and promoting our history but unfortunately it is getting harder and harder to do. Let’s hope that Ray is able to save this little spot of Menlo’s history.

Pat Richter September 14, 2015 at 8:00 pm

I grew up in Menlo Park. Foster’s Freeze was the place to be…….I stopped there when I attended St Joseph’s and Menlo Atherton High School in the 50’s and early 60’s……It is part of Menlo Park’s history……how sad….Please try to save it…….

Scott Lohmann September 14, 2015 at 9:46 pm

It would be nice to be relocated near one of our parks, full of kids, families or how ’bout the experimental pocket park? It could probably make it, if it were relocated on, or very close to Santa Cruz.

Barbara Mason September 14, 2015 at 10:36 pm

Fosters was where we met our friends in the
Early Sixties – it was the foundation of our
social life in high school and a bit after!
Reading about all the young kids remembering
their ice cream cones shows me how multi-
generational it is and deserves to be kept.
Thanks for your efforts to preserve a bit of
the community we once were.

Jan Detlor Scripps September 15, 2015 at 12:03 am

Yes, indeed! Just as with the Menlo Park Theatre, and now Foster Freeze, and before that Johnny’s Smoke Shop, not to mention the across the street popular lunch hang out of years ago serving buttered grilled bread and sandwiches during my own M-A high school years from 1961 – 1965, the facts are the facts here.
After growing up in Menlo Park, I was able with my husband to be fortunate enough to return to raise our two sons in Menlo Park in 1986 throughout their high school graduations in 1996 and 1998 respectively. Jack and I then moved from Menlo Park to Oregon in 1999 and realized then and there that we could not ever return to MP given the price of houses selling then, not to mention what was expected to happen to Bay Area housing values, an ever-growing increase in selling price given the development there of the tech industry to be sure!
Now in 2015, a home 3 doors down from our own prior residence, after being torn down and rebuilt, sold for more than 5 times our selling price in 1999!! Thus, the bottom line here is, while any owner of a home in Menlo Park, Atherton, Palo Alto and beyond, looks to sell their own home at the premium selling price of these times, how can anyone here expect that the private investors in commercial properties that have housed old time relics such as the MP Theatre, or Foster Freeze etc., be expected to hang on to these vintage properties given the enhanced property values that these relics stand on for a preferable profitable development of?
Owners of Atherton and Menlo Park over the top home property values have to recognize the increased values of these commercial properties as well, and that the owners of which have a right to pursue their own required return on investment from the development of these properties.
How can one, enjoying the largess now from an earlier investment in one’s own home real estate in the area, expect the owner of a commercial property that might house a Foster Freeze or famous theatre on sight now, underwrite the existence of a once significant property fixture over their own financial investment and plans for this property? And that is just the way it is!
Anyone interested in saving this icon architectural building needs to raise the monies to pay for the purchase of this building as where it stands today, or fund a removal of the same to another property to be purchased for its own relocation!. Don’t expect the new owner of this property to underwrite the continued existence of the FF restaurant. Put yourself in the shoes of this new property owner. If you are willing to give a part of your own property to the relocation of FF for its ongoing existence then you can advocate for the new owner to do the same. If not, then the reality is that you have no validity to stand on as to a protest here.
And that is Economics 101 which we can all understand! If you want to Save It, then you have to have the means to Pay For It! It is only fair.

Gene Fauro Pratt September 15, 2015 at 10:28 am

So sad, but true.

John Higgins September 15, 2015 at 10:48 am

As everything else seems to have catapulted into iEverhthing and real estate insanity, Fosters Freeze has remained a touch stone of earlier, more moderate and friendly times.
After living in Hawaii for 40 years, my wife and I moved to Redwood City five years ago. Part of my 1950’s Southern California childhood was happily recaptured when I discovered Foster’s Freeze in Menlo Park. I don’t want to loose that. If there is an organized movement to save this icon of joy, please let me know and I’ll contribute.
You scream, I scream, we all scream for ice cream!

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