By Maureen Werther
Stewart’s Corp. is commemorating the 70th anniversary of the original Stewart’s Shop opening on Church Avenue in the village of Ballston Spa. Day-long festivities are scheduled for July 9, including food and even Helicopter ride give-aways.
The company’s construction team completely renovated and expanded the shop, including an updated exterior that is a total departure from the familiar brown mansard shingles seen at locations throughout upstate New York and Vermont.
The interior space of the new store is more expansive, with additional counter and cooler space to accommodate the company’s growing food and beverage lines. There are additional gasoline pumps and parking in front.
This is only one of many anticipated renovations, expansions and construction of new shops in the works for the next several years, and is a strategic response to the ever-changing needs of consumers in the upstate region.
The corporate philosophy of responsiveness to the customer began with C.V. and Percy Dake as far back as 1917, when they took over the family dairy farm. It continues today under the guidance of Gary Dake, president of Stewart’s Corp., and Bill Dake, chairman of the board.
In 1945, C.V. and Percy Dake purchased the Stewart’s Dairy & Ice Cream Co. in Ballston Spa from Don Stewart. Because state licensing laws of the time limited which townships a dairy could sell their milk in, purchasing the Stewart’s company allowed the Dakes to expand their milk operations. At the time of the purchase, Don Stewart had a small ice cream manufacturing facility on Route 50, owned and operated by the Stewart family since 1918.
The ice cream part of the operation, which included a freezer and a hardening room, had been forced to close during World War I because of a sugar shortage. When C.V.’s son, Charlie, returned from the war later that year, he became very interested in re-opening the ice cream side of the business.
As a veteran, young Charlie had early access to sweetened condensed milk. This allowed him to produce ice cream during his summers off from Cornell, where he was attending school. It wasn’t long before the Dakes opened their first ice cream store on Church Avenue in Ballston Spa.