A family affair kind of place

NOTE: This story has been typed in from a clipping saved from the Pocono Record, as it is not available online.

Casino Theater/ice cream parlor rise from ashes after a fire

By Joe Lyons | Pocono Record writer

MOUNT POCONO – Though some people may go psycho if it seemed their field of dreams was gone with the wind, George Litz survived a towering inferno right after buying the Casino Theater.

Litz and two partners Victor Genco and John Hildebrande, bought the movie theater on Main Street, Mount Pocono, in 1975 and transformed the seasonal operation into a thriving family-oriented business.

“The next year we had the fire and the building burned down. We rebuilt it the same year. Of course, we made it much smaller. At that time it was strictly a summer operation,” Litz said of the business which now is open from March to December.

“We believe it could be a full-time operation, but we’re not ready to go that route. The movie theater was here for a number of years. Prior to that, I think it was a dance hall,” Litz said.

“Victor Genco thought it would be nice to put an ice cream parlor in the building, and it was quite a good-sized structure at the time. And we had a tiny sit-down, old fashioned ice cream parlor,” Litz said.

“Of course, when it burned down we rebuilt it with the concept of having an ice cream parlor and a movie theater, because that combination seemed to work pretty good,” he added.

Through the years, Litz bought out his partners and began expanding the operation, adding a video arcade and miniature golf course.

“What we wanted to do is make it a multiple entertainment center,” he said. “Our idea is to make it a very family-oriented type of operation – where a person can come in here with his family and have a lot of things to do.”

Litz has tried to maintain a wholesome, old-fashioned family atmosphere by having his family run the business, maintaining an old-fashioned flair and keeping the prices low.

“What we try to attract is the family business. And it is a family-run business, by the way,” he said. “We have three daughters, two of them are married, and they’ve worked in the business a lot of years. The son-in-laws work in the business part-time. We have a son and he works in the business and we have key employees that have been here for about 15 years.”

There is also a conscious effort to keep the prices low, as evidenced by the $4 cost for adults and $2 for children to see the movies, Litz said.

“What we try to do is keep the operation so that it’s affordable. I kind of feel we are one of the attractions of the Poconos. We have an awful lot of people coming in and telling us they heard of us from friendsd who had vacationed here,” he continued.

“I think the concept of having an old-fashioned sit-down ice cream parlor where people are served in glass as opposed to paper is rather appealing. I think that in itself has a lot of appeal for us,” Litz said.

Another facet of the ice cream parlor that sets it apart from others is the menu, which gives movie and actor’s names to the sundaes.

“For example, I think the Carmen Miranda comes with fruit cocktail. Because she used to wear funny things in her hats. And another was the Scarlett O’Hara and tying that in with the strawberry topping. And, of course, the Three Stooges, which is probably one of our all-time favorites, a banana split, because it’s three scoops of ice cream.

“And you’d be surprised how many people remember and they come in and that’s what they specifically order. They want a Carmen Miranda or a Ginger Rodgers or a Three Stooges.”