A family Affair
WRITTEN BY MEGAN HARRINGTON PHOTOS PROVIDED
As the weather warms up, the Farmer’s Daughters’ Drive- In, just east of Saratoga Springs, becomes one of the coolest places to be – literally! No matter how high the temperature soars, the cones and sundaes served up at Annette Osher’s business are sure to be refreshing.
Annette is no stranger to the food industry; in addition to The Farmer's Daughters' Drive-In, she also owns Distinctive Catering. Annette bought the popular Saratoga ice cream spot a decade ago, but she’s been in the catering industry for nearly 30 years. Distinctive Catering offers on-site and off-site catering for weddings as well as corporate, union, and political events from Hudson all the way up to Lake George. Distinctive Catering’s home base is in Waterford, NY where Annette serves as the main caterer for Duke’s Grove event venue. With a booming catering business and a busy summer ice cream shack, Annette doesn’t have a ton of free time, but she does have the help and support of her family.
Annette raised her three sons as a single mom and she says, “I bought Farmer’s Daughters’ Drive-in so that I could spend time with my kids and watch over them. The idea was that they could make some money and learn about business at the same time.” Annette’s eldest son Billy is 27, but he’s been working at Farmer’s Daughters’ since he was 14. And now he also helps his mom out with the catering business. She says, “Wherever I end up, Billy is by my side.” Taylor, age 24, has also worked at the family business since a teen, but he’s currently taken a step back to focus on applying to medical school. Annette’s youngest son, Ryan, is only 14, but he’s already begun logging hours behind the counter of the drive-in.
The Farmer’s Daughters’ Drive-in was built back in the 1960s and Annette says they still try to run the business the old fashioned way. “The meat for our burgers is freshly ground, we cut and bread our fish in-house, and we churn all the ice cream ourselves,” she says. Annette continues, “People have memories of bringing their kids here when they were small; the drive-in is a very important piece of nostalgia.”
While the drive-in is over half a century old, Annette strives to make upgrades every year. In addition to a new pavilion and a new sign, one of the most recent additions is a mobile ice cream cart to take across the road to Schuyler Park. Annette explains, “We just received the approval to bring the cart over to the park on Saturdays. Now the kids will be able to enjoy a treat without crossing busy Route 29.”
Annette’s dream of turning Farmer’s Daughters’ into a true family business is finally coming together. She says, “Although Farmer’s Daughters’ is my life and the place that I enjoy the most, I’ve taught my son to run the business. I hope that one day he’ll take over – the customers love him as much as they love me!”
Billy’s role in the business has been particularly crucial lately as Annette is recovering from an intense surgery. She says, “I recently donated 69 percent of liver to my brother and it really took me awhile to come back.” Fortunately, Billy was ready and able to step in and fill his mom’s shoes. Annette says, “Billy left a good job in Miami to come home and help out with the business. He’s really made some sacrifices and I couldn’t have done it without him.”
The next time you’re craving an old-fashioned burger or an ice cream cone, head east on Route 29 for a taste of summer nostalgia. The Osher Family will be waiting for you! SS
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