MERIDEN — The new owners of Les’ Dairy Bar are starting their first full season running the landmark ice cream spot and hope to open by the end of this month.
Although there are new owners, customers can expect the same menu.
“We had to do some work on the inside over the winter,” said Amanda Hamilton, who is now running the business with her husband Francis.“But as far as where we get the ice cream, all of our supplies, candies and fudge is all the same. All of our ingredients are exactly the same.”
Hamilton said the East Main Street dairy bar may try out new sugar free yogurt flavors, like guava or a fruity cereal milk flavor, but will start with raspberry cheesecake, a popular flavor from last year.
The couple lived in New York for ten years before returning to Connecticut to be closer to family during the pandemic. They took over the business in the middle of last season from longtime owner Deb DiGiandomenico.
“Our whole world got turned upside down (last year) and it just kept happening,” Amanda Hamilton said. “So this is a bright spot to be in.It could have been a tragic story, losing our jobs and moving back closer to family. Sometimes things work out in a great way.”
The Middlefield couple were encouraged to take over the business by Francis Hamilton’s father, who had been a Meriden resident and Les’ customer as a child. In early January, he died as a result of COVID-19.
“He’s the one that knew Les’, he helped us purchase it,” Amanda Hamilton said. “So it’s kind of bittersweet but it’s nice to know we could keep it going for the community and it was something he really loved.”
Other area ice cream parlors are also excited about the start of a new season. Sweet Claude’s in Cheshire opened for its 34th season at the beginning of the month.
“Customers can expect our exciting flash flavors to continue,” owner Kelly Anne Pearce said. “We do new, different flavors that we don’t have all the time. We used to do them once a week, but they would go so fast.”
A popular flash flavor is called “Parent Trap.” The treat includes peanut butter base ice cream with fudge swirl and Oreo cookies. It is named for the movie “The Parent Trap.”
New state guidelines allow restaurants to open to fully capacity. Pearce said the change will help.
“We are so excited to be able to offer outdoor seating to full capacity, which we weren’t able to do last year,” Pearce said. “Everyone can come and sit on the benches and porch and enjoy the outdoors.”
Sweet Claude’s is located at 828 S. Main St. and is open Sunday to Saturday, noon to 9 p.m.