Throwback to Martin’s Family Restaurant
You know about Martin’s Famous Potato Rolls. And you may even know about all 13 potato, white, and wheat bread and roll products. And, if you’re really good, you might know that Martin’s was started by Lloyd and Lois Martin in 1955. But did you know that, in its early years, the Martin’s business included a restaurant? It’s true! With over 100 pastry items for sale and a full menu, Martin’s Family Restaurant was once a highly popular go-to eatery in the small town of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania.
A Local Legend
When Lloyd and Lois Martin founded Martin’s Famous Pastry Shoppe, Inc. back in the 1950s, they baked a full line of bakery items, which they delivered in their 1954 Dodge Coronet to farmer’s markets throughout the Carlisle, York, and Harrisburg areas. Their products were so popular that soon Lloyd and his son, James (Jim), decided to also sell them at local grocery stores. However, it was not long until the humble garage bakery did not have the capacity to keep up with customer demand. And thus, Martin’s Family Restaurant was born.
Late 1960s- Martin’s Family Restaurant prior to orange roof construction
In the early 1960s, Lloyd knew he wanted to purchase a bakery and/or restaurant, and at the time, Route 81 was being developed right in the middle of their hometown of Chambersburg, PA. So, ideally, this restaurant could be a perfect pit stop for hungry travelers. Right outside of town, on Route 30 (which is positioned directly perpendicular to Route 81), stood Lloyd and Lois’ opportunity: a house that they converted into a bakery and pastry shop, which opened in 1966. In front of the store, they also ran a small snack counter, which eventually grew into a full restaurant.
Circa 1970s- Martin’s family restaurant after orange roof construction in 1971
This restaurant-bakery was an important part of Martin’s history because the timing was just right for both businesses. As the interstate was coming together, the restaurant saw a growth in customers. Meanwhile, the larger bakery facility in the back of the restaurant made it possible to accommodate supermarkets with production and distribution. So, in 1969, Martin’s began selling wholesale to Giant with four delivery truck routes. Then, in 1976-77, they began selling to even larger chains like A&P.
Early 1970s- Route driver, Gary K., stands by his Martin’s delivery truck
The construction of Route 81 and the proximity to Chambersburg may have contributed to the initial traffic at Martin’s Family Restaurant, but what kept people coming back was, as Jim Martin says, “the good cooks!” And, like the Martin’s business today, the restaurant involved many Martin family members. Jim’s sister, Anita (Martin) Riblet worked as a pastry chef and, more specifically, baked and decorated cakes. Jim’s youngest sister, Keren Martin, managed the restaurant, particularly on the odd hours of the day.
1971- Keren Martin, Phil S., and Anita (Martin) Riblet in the kitchen of the restaurant
The menu at Martin’s Family Restaurant included several memorable dishes that Chambersburg natives still recall. For breakfast, there was a classic Bacon and Egg on High Fiber Toast, the Egg O Muffin sandwich, and others. These items were particularly popular as people who started work early in the morning, like mechanics and shop workers, would stop for breakfast.
Popular lunch and dinner items included the Big Marty Burger (best with French fries and a milkshake, of course), Muffin Burger (a burger served on an English muffin), Cheese Boat, and the classic Ham Hoagie. Martin’s was also known for its delicious ice cream creations like vanilla and strawberry milkshakes and root beer floats.
Closing the Restaurant
Through the 1970s, the demand for Martin’s potato rolls continued to grow, and, like the garage bakery, the restaurant-bakery could no longer keep up. So, in the mid-1970s, as perhaps one of the biggest decisions of the Martin’s business at that point, the Martins purchased land to build their first bakery-only facility on Garber Road in Chambersburg (where Martin’s headquarters is still located today). With this facility, they were much more equipped to keep up with the demands of production and still had the staff to keep the restaurant in full operation.
1977- Martin Family at the groundbreaking of the Chambersburg bakery facility
However, as Chambersburg continued to grow and become a bustling town, the restaurant business became more and more competitive. To combat this competition, the Martins tried splitting the family restaurant into a BBQ joint. But they soon realized that the best next step for the business was to focus on either baking bread and rolls or operating the restaurant. And, as you know, they chose to focus on what they’ve always done best: baking delicious potato bread and rolls.
In 1987, the Martin’s Family Restaurant officially closed its doors and the whole Martin family shifted their focus to the baking business—narrowing their wide array of pastries down to just 9 bread and roll products. Though closing the restaurant was a difficult decision, it certainly helped Martin’s Famous Potato Rolls and Bread flourish and grow into the successful business we see today.
Don’t you wish you could go back in time and try some of the delicious dishes from Martin’s Family Restaurant? Well, you’re in luck! Keep reading for a sneak peek into some of the most popular recipes at the Martin’s Family Restaurant made on Martin’s products you can still find in stores!
Big Marty Burger
In the Martin’s Family Restaurant, the “Big Marty” was a classic recipe developed by Lloyd Martin (aka “Big Marty”) and his daughter Anita to mimic a popular fast food burger. Layers of lettuce, onion, tomato, hamburger patties, and cheese were positioned between a Martin’s Big Marty’s bun that had the top sliced in two. But the standout element of this burger was the special sauce: a combination of Thousand Island dressing and mayonnaise.
See the full recipe: https://potatorolls.com/recipes/big-marty-burger
The simple-yet-iconic Cheese Boat was one of the most popular dishes at the family restaurant. To make it, just top a Martin’s Hoagie Roll with ketchup, tomato, oregano, onions, and cheese. Then, melt the toppings in a broiler for a few minutes and viola! You can enjoy an original Martin’s concoction right at home! Recipe credit: Anita Martin Riblet
See the full recipe: https://potatorolls.com/recipes/cheese-boat
Are there any other dishes you remember from the family restaurant? Let us know in the comments below! We’d love to see your renditions of these Martin’s classics. Share your photos with us on social media!
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