Homemade sweets return to popular Amsterdam hangout

The new owner of an old-time soda shop is retreating further into the past, making her own homemade

Categories: Schenectady County

The new owner of an old-time soda shop is retreating further into the past, making her own homemade chocolates much as previous owners of the city landmark did for decades before her.

Fariello’s has been an ice cream parlor since 1925 and hasn’t changed a whole lot over the years. Customers can still order egg creams, ice cream sodas and hot fudge sundaes, sit at the circa-1950s counter and listen to the Beach Boys jam, but it’s been at least four years since they could order homemade fudge, chocolate bars and truffles.

Theresa Dufel said she is bringing the store “back to the basics” with things like her homemade desserts and chocolates, the decorations and oldies music.

“We’re trying to bring the tradition back. We’ve got the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s music playing, it’s a relaxed atmosphere and people will wait because they realize that everything is handmade. It’s refreshing,” Dufel said.

Since Samuel Fariello opened the store on Lincoln Avenue in 1925, it has changed hands only a couple of times. Sally Vilar and Richard Barbato bought the store from Samuel Fariello’s son in 1986. The couple sold it to Amsterdam native Gary Castler in 2004, and he sold it to Dufel and her husband, Adolph, 18 months ago.

Dufel, a 1976 graduate of Amsterdam High School, said she remembers walking down the street from what is now Lynch Middle School to hang out during lunch periods.

“This was the local hangout,” Dufel said. “We used to get an hour for lunch, so we’d walk down and hang out.”

Dufel had worked as a nurse for 30 years before she purchased Fariello’s.

Dufel said she was always called the Martha Stewart of her family, always making pies, cakes and candies.

“This was a very easy step for me,” Dufel said.

The chocolate business is already doing well. Dufel is making chocolates for a local bed and breakfast, and is already receiving orders for chocolate present trays and for holiday parties.

Merle Melita and Diane Smith, both of Amsterdam, were taking a break from their day Wednesday afternoon at Fariello’s. The pair said they both had been coming to the shop since they were girls.

Melita said she returns over and over because of the nostalgia.

“It’s like going back in time,” she said.

The store is decorated with relics of the past, from old soda bottles and Nestle tins to vintage photographs.

“There is always a young, happy crowd here,” Smith said. “You always get a happy greeting when you walk in the door.”

As in years past, Fariello’s still caters to the younger crowd. Picture collages are assembled at each wooden booth showing smiling teenagers gathered around what Dufel calls the “Superbowl” — nine scoops of ice cream with all the toppings.

Dufel said weekend nights are still her busiest times, especially after high school football games that play at Lynch.

People are excited that someone has taken the shop over and it’s not closing, Dufel said about the store.

And whenever she gets discouraged, Dufel can look at a scrapbook she has put together of letters and comments from various patrons. The books shows that people have visited the establishment from all over the country and even the world and contains memories from customers who had their first date or got engaged at Fariello’s.

“There is so much history here,” she said.

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