Cindy Leffler, left, talks with her mother, Maxine Haas, as she chops onions at Pee Wee’s Dari Snak in Stony Ridge. Ms Haas’ father started the family business, which is marking its 50th anniversary.
THE BLADE/DAVE ZAPOTOSKY
STONY RIDGE — In 1977, a banana split at Pee Wee’s Stony Ridge Dari Snak cost 95 cents.
These days, that same ice cream treat is priced at $4.35.
Price increases aside, much remains the same at the ice cream stand on Fremont Pike, which is owned by Maxine Haas and on Wednesday celebrated its 50th year in business.
PHOTO GALLERY: 50 years of Pee Wee's Dari Snak
Certain items are still homemade and still attract nostalgic patrons in northern Wood County.
During Wednesday’s anniversary celebration, the stand was crowded with customers like 17-year-old Ellie Defiesta.
“I live down the road,” she said, adding that the location brings back memories from when she was a little girl.
“I just remember playing at the park and coming here after, getting an ice cream cone.”
Miss Defiesta said when she was younger, she liked the restaurant’s grilled cheese sandwich.
But today, a regular vanilla cone remains her seasonal staple. The stand is open six months of the year.
Ms. Haas said the business has rarely had a bad day in its 50 years.
And she’s been there almost every step of the way.
“I don't know, but I’ve never been in the red. It's a good business,” she said.
The stand has always made its own coney dog sauce and barbecue beef.
During the celebration, Ms. Haas was busy in the back of the kitchen, prepping food items and stocking frozen french fries.
Ms. Haas said she is no cook. But she has enjoyed the time she has spent managing the business and working with family.
Stony Ridge Dari Snak was built in 1963 by her parents, Everett and Bertha Haas. As the youngest daughter, Maxine worked at the stand each summer. In 1967, she moved back to the area from Florida and took over the reins.
She said during those years, she needed a baby-sitter, and her parents promised to take over that role, if she worked at Dari Snak.
After Mr. Haas died in 1976, Bertha and her daughter ran the parlor. Older sister, Elizabeth, also worked there.
The Dari Snak changed names a few years later to Pee Wee’s Stony Ridge Dari Snak — named after her father.
“That’s what they called him,” Ms. Haas said. She said the front of the business also had a roof that needed something and that was the place they thought would be good for a sign, which says simply “Pee Wee’s.”
Her daughter, Cindy Leffler, who helps out at the stand, said a few things have changed.
She recalled when she worked at the stand when she was 12, she was paid $1 an hour and the portion sizes were different.
“When I worked here, an 8-ounce was a small. Our small is [now] 12 ounces,” she said.
As a fourth-generation operation, the stand has employed numerous family members. Ms. Haas’ grandsons also still work at Pee Wee’s and all four of her children worked there at some point.
She said she likes to hire young workers in the summer. “It's fun and everybody likes this place.
"It’s their first job, and I can teach them,” Ms. Haas said.
Ms. Leffler said other elements of production in the kitchen have also changed. An ice cream treat called a flurry, which is ice cream with crumbled toppings such as cookies mixed in, is a new item.
Even the way the milk is mixed into milkshakes has changed, Ms. Leffler said. Her mother said the result is that everything is a little bit quicker to make.
Even though she celebrated her 80th birthday last week, Ms. Haas doesn’t seem to be slowing down. She treated her customers to cake and ice cream to celebrate the big day. But she said she’s not ready to retire.
“We’ve added a lot. I don’t like to stay at home and work. I’m not gonna chase that dust around,” Ms. Haas said.
Contact Kelly McLendon at: email@example.com or 419-724-6522, or on Twitter @KMcBlade.