In 1906 Otto G. Keller answered an employment ad for Phillips' candy store in Laconia, NH and least in the eyes of children of all ages, the Lakes Region has never been the same. Otto arrived penniless from Merrimack NH, but within hours he secured his job at Phillips', and within a year owned the store lock, stock and barrel. In the early 1920's Otto introduced homemade ice cream and was the first person to offer it year 'round. The ice cream was made with ice harvested from Lake Winnipesaukee (refrigeration technology had not been developed yet!) and tons of rock salt. The early 30's saw the advent of the refrigeration industry, which made production easier, but it also brought the Great Depression. Otto added a light lunch menu and a bakery and managed to survive nicely through those lean times.
In 1939, Otto's sons Seth and Pittman joined the family business. Of course they had worked in the store when growing up, and now they stepped into the day to day operation. They began to sell their 16% butterfat ice cream (as opposed to the 10% of their competition) wholesale to selected businesses around the area. Tough times befell the operation when Seth entered the service in 1943. Otto and Pittman worked hard to keep the business thriving in the extensive sugar rationing for the war effort. When Seth returned, he went to work running the store full time with Otto. In 1950, Otto semi-retired, but stayed busy as bookkeeper for the business, a state senator, a leader in the Masons and helped found a bank. Seth and his wife Peg took over the store and added a catering business, and was soon catering state wide for functions of up to a thousand people.
In the 1960's urban renewal was targeted for the part of Main Street where the store was located. They saw the writing on the wall and started searching for a new location. They both knew that a spot on the boulevard near Weirs Beach would be ideal, and they purchased a plot of land just over the Meredith border. They worked frantically to keep up with their business and plan the building and design of the new store. During preparations for the Easter rush (second only to Christmas) an old high school friend of Seth's and a realtor came into the store and asked if they had thought of moving to an existing building. Seth said they had, but couldn't find a building that would suit their purposes that they could afford. After talking for a while, they grabbed their coats and went out to Hartland, a beautiful tract of land overlooking Lake Winnipesaukee and the White Mountains and upon it stood the fine stone foundation house of the late Myron Hart, built in 1908. Seth and Peg went in and were overwhelmed by it's beauty. They made an offer, and within a month and a half they built an addition and started moving everything from the Main Street store. Peg went to New York to purchase gifts and candles since it was decided that gift sales would benefit the new store. Seth readied the inside for the first ice cream buffet in the area, allowing patrons to create their own ice cream sundaes. The day before the grand opening, friends and neighbors spent the day planting flowers and washing windows to help prepare. The Kellers waited and waited on that opening day in May 1966...and no one did. (Seth found out the next day that The Margate Resort also had their grand opening that day and was offering a free buffet and cocktails!) The ice cream buffet was an instant success. That first summer (and many after that) the lines to get in went outside and almost up to Rt. 3. Today it's hard to find someone who grew up or vacationed in the area who doesn't remember the thrill of a trip to Kellerhaus for the buffet. Additions were added for the increasingly popular candles and Christmas gift items. In the 70's popularity of the fudge, turtles, buttercrunch and pecan bark forced another addition which is today the candy room. Additional seating for the ice cream buffet was added in the 80's to handle the growing summer crowds.
In 1987, Rick and Kathy Keller took over Kellerhaus as Seth, much like his father Otto went into restless retirement. Although in it's third generation, nothing much had changed. The ice cream was still made with Otto's original freezer, one batch at a time. The candies were still made from the same handed down recipes and the same quality. Rick eventually introduced the Belgian Waffle buffet and breakfast menu. In 1989 Rick got involved in a computer side venture that took of at such a great rate that he found himself hard pressed to run both businesses. After some conversation and careful consideration, Seth and Rick decided to sell Kellerhaus. For over half a century the Keller family proudly made the finest quality ice cream and candies in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire. Now the tradition of Kellerhaus excellence continues with Mary Ellen and David Dutton and their family who purchased the historic business from Jeff and Bettina Potter in early 2004.