New Owners Scoop Up Mara’s Ice Cream

 New Owners Scoop Up Mara’s Ice Cream

Mara Valentino sold her shop after 10 years.

By Katie McFadden

After 10 years, Mara Valentino decided to sell Mara’s Ice Cream Parlor, but don’t fret, the scoopers are in good hands. In March, Mara turned over the keys to a young local couple that is looking to keep the same sweet treats as they carry Mara’s legacy forward.

Mara Valentino had been getting burnt out after working in Italian ice shops when her husband, Mike, convinced her to become her own boss and open a shop of her own. And after Rockaway was devastated by Hurricane Sandy, the peninsula was in need of a sweet pick-me-up.  Despite residing in Long Island, Mike Valentino had taken a liking to Rockaway when he worked on the peninsula as an NYPD officer, and he had purchased some bungalows after retiring in 2004.  Mara opened up an Uncle Louie G’s franchise in spring 2014 along with her nephew, Christopher, becoming some of the first business owners to take part in the post-Sandy Rockaway Beach renaissance. After two years of commuting, Mike and Mara found a place to rent in town. About five years ago, Mara moved the shop a few doors down and reopened it as Mara’s Ice Cream Parlor, and two years ago, they made the full move to Beach 90th in Rockaway and sold their Long Island home. “I’m not leaving Rockaway,” Valentino said.

However, she is hitting the road in her camper. “I bought a camper on 97th and the bay and I want to travel from the east coast to the west coast,” she said. She has big plans for the camper called The Wanderer. “Everybody will see me. I’m going to be painting it hot pink and black and put ‘Mara’s nuts’ on the back and I’ll have my fictitious dog sitting in the seat next to me, Brody the Roadie. I want to travel and that’s it,” Valentino said.

Matt and Hannah are the new scoopers in town.

So after 10 years, the time was right to pass the ice cream scooper onto the next generation. And the Valentinos had the perfect option in mind. “I had 10 bungalows on Beach 100th and I sold them to Matt a few years ago. He was my exterminator. And he and his girlfriend, Hannah, said, ‘if you ever decide to sell the ice cream shop, let us know,’” Mike Valentino said. So when the time came, they knew just who to call—Matt Moers and Hannah Sautner.

The couple are lifelong locals who have some experience as business owners with Matt owning his own pest control business and Hannah owning an eyelash extension business. “This couple was the best choice I could have made,” Mara Valentino said. “I put a lot of heart into that store, and I think they’re the perfect fit. I wouldn’t have just given it to anyone. She’s my baby and they’re the perfect couple for it.”

Moers and Sautner had remained friends with the Valentinos and were hoping this would come to fruition. “We always joked with them, whenever you’re ready to retire, I want to come for your ice cream shop. We always loved coming into Mara’s. And then she called us in March,” Sautner said. Although they had hinted about wanting to buy the shop, Mara’s sudden decision to actually sell caught them off guard. “It was out of the blue and we weren’t prepared or planning for it, but we were hoping one day maybe it would happen,” Sautner said.

But they’ve stepped right up to the challenge. “Matt and I have been together for 10 years and we’re best friends and partners, and we’ve talked about finding a business to do together. He’s great at running businesses and the backend of things while I’m really creative and like to make things sparkle. This was the right opportunity and it’s been perfect so far,” Sautner said.

Adjusting came easy as Mara laid the groundwork for a successful business, one that Moers and Sautner don’t plan on changing much. “Mara’s has great bones. She built this business for 10 years, picking out premium ice creams and Italian ices. We don’t want to change up a good thing. She also had a great staff that she brought over that we’ll have in addition to family members offering up that same great customer service experience that Mara provided the community for the last 10 years,” Sautner said.  And of course, they’ll utilize the shop’s backyard space and will continue to offer events like live music.

However, they would like to add on to what’s already good. “We hope to add to this and make it more of a dessert shop with other frozen treats, soft serve and baked goods,” Sautner said. “Right now, we’re hunkering down and getting ready for the summer season so the products will be the same, but maybe we’ll change up some flavors here and there.” Even the name will remain for now.

Matt and Hannah say they’re honored to be passed the ice cream scoops. “It’s overwhelming in the best way. We feel very grateful and happy that she felt we were a good fit. It was a big thing that we closed the deal on her tenth year to the day she opened. It was this full circle moment, and we feel blessed and we’re looking forward to keeping this business going,” Sautner said.

And Mara is confident in what Matt and Hannah will accomplish.  “I had a pang in my heart when I left but I know it’s in good hands. They’re young and will take it to the next level,” Valentino said. “They’re a great couple and I hope Rockaway embraces them as much as they embraced me.”

So say hello to Hannah and Matt, and order a cup or cone! Mara’s Ice Cream Parlor is located at 92-14 Rockaway Beach Blvd. They’re still operating on winter hours but starting Memorial Day weekend, and all summer long, they’ll be open seven days a week from 12 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Rockaway Stuff

Related post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *