By Dan Guarino
Step into My Mother’s Place II, Broad Channel’s newest business, and you feel the rush of what summer is all about. From the moment their doors open, the blue, white and red décor, colorful, creamy ice cream flavors, the sound of video games, the smell of hot dogs and pretzels, and the service with a smile are all things that make customers want to come back and enjoy again.
From the start, owners John Brown, Matthew Martocci and Michael Brown wanted this place to be something welcoming. Tables and chairs are situated out front for people to enjoy their cones and cups of ice cream in the summer air. Inside, bright menu screens list assorted ice cream and ice flavors, hot foods and snacks, and beverages. Running almost the length of the shop, their red-topped counter displays some 36 ready to scoop flavors beneath its glass window. Small tables run along one blue and white striped wall and a variety of arcade style video games stand ready to play at the back.
Between serving customers, Martocci and Michael Brown talked about this new venture and the latest addition to the area. “Things have been busy, hectic,” they say, since they opened on their doors on Friday, June 23. They note, “We did have a little something,” an opening celebration, on Sunday, June 25.
Brown says the business “has been in the family since 1962. It started with my great-grandmother.”
“My grandfather opened it for her,” he says, speaking about their original location in South Ozone Park. “She used to take the train into the Manhattan, come home very late and fall asleep on the way. So, he opened this place for her. He opened it for his mother. That’s how it got the name ‘My Mother’s Place’.”
The new shop, dubbed My Mother’s Place II, is located at 921 Cross Bay Boulevard, between West 10th and West 9th Roads. “It used to be an ice cream place,” Brown notes, referring to the former Uncle Louie G’s which closed up several years ago. More recently, he says, “We saw this place was for rent. It was vacant.”
Martocci says, “I’d say it took us about a month” to renovate the storefront once they acquired it. “We repainted the whole place. We had the counter specially built. We had tv screens put in with the menu displays. They had old ones attached to the wall.” Besides bringing in the freestanding arcade games, he mentions, “We’ve cleaned up the backyard area, set up a foosball table, and a few picnic tables for people to sit at. The customers have been enjoying it. Eventually we’ll have birthday parties there.”
“Everybody is happy there’s a family-type business on the block,” Martocci added. “It’s very family oriented here. I have family in Broad Channel.” He notes also with school being out, parents have been pleased that there is place for kids to go to in the summer. And “there’s a lot of kids in the neighborhood.”
“The kids,” Brown says, “have been waiting for us to open up to come in, play games, hang out. It’s a good neighborhood spot.” He also notes there are not a lot of places where customers can sit down and enjoy their frozen treats, alluding to one ice cream serving spot in Howard Beach where “basically you have to stand in the parking lot to eat your ice cream.”
Speaking of the ice cream, he adds, “This is probably the best quality between here and our other store on Rockaway Boulevard.” Their menu lists water ices, crème and Italian ices and ice creams with sizes ranging from small to pints, soda floats and shakes. Included are flavors like rainbow, cotton candy, pineapple, passion fruit, strawberry, cake batter, pb & jelly, spumoni, pina colada and chocolate mousse. “The fruit ones have actual fruit in them, like cherry, coconut and pineapple,” Brown said.
Among customers “strawberry cheesecake has been a big hit,” he says. Martocci adds, “Rainbow is always a favorite.” Both agree that Cookie Monster has been a huge success. It consists of very blue vanilla ice cream, Oreos, Chips Ahoy chips and cookie pieces and, like all their flavors, has an exceptionally smooth and creamy taste. “The kids have been going nuts for it,” he says. “We just went through four tubs of it.”
One young customer, a vanilla chip fan, offers, “My mother likes the Graham Cracker flavor.” Martocci confirmed, “People are always happiest when they try the Graham Cracker.”
More than just their cool ice creams, My Mother’s Place II has already gained popularity for their hot side offerings. All day long they are serving up hot dogs, chili cheese dogs, knishes, salt or cinnamon pretzel bites, Philly cheese steak pretzels, nachos and cheese and chili cheese nachos. “The pretzel bites are very popular. One woman just ordered 150 for her 4th of July party,” Martocci said.
“Business has been pretty good,” Brown says. “Lots of kids coming back all day long. Construction workers and neighborhood people come in. There’s a lot of happy people here.”
Both men say the Broad Channel community “has been very supportive. Everybody’s been really nice. They’re happy to see us. They all want us to succeed.” Expanding on that success, they mention they are getting new signs to place on the Cross Bay Boulevard median to catch the eye of the coming and going summer crowds and “let people know we’re here.”
As summer heats up, the Browns and Martocci are working very hard to make My Mother’s Place II a standout. They invite everyone to come and try their cool flavors and hot treats. Because for those that haven’t yet, as Martocci says, well, “They’re missing out!”
My Mother’s Place II, at 921 Cross Bay Boulevard, is open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on weekends.
Photos by Dan Guarino.