Many of you have asked, and surely the rest of you have wondered who is “Martha”? It all began 80 years ago when a first generation immigrant from Greece, the great aunt of Bill and Chris Fokas, made her way to Nashua. In 1932 she founded the original Martha’s Sweet Shoppe. It is believed that she named it after the popular candy of that era known as “Martha Washington Candy”. It was not because her name was Martha. The original store was only 1/10 of the size of the existing Martha’s.
In 1944, Bill and Chris’s Father, James Fokas known to most as “Mitch”, came home from the war and began running his aunt’s candy shoppe. He soon expanded it to include a luncheonette with 28 stools; it quickly became the most popular lunch spot on Main Street. Martha’s Sweet Shoppe and Luncheonette was a landmark in Nashua for 45 years. Every political candidate that came to Nashua had to stop at Martha’s. Many of Nashua’s long time residents and politicians planned Nashua’s future here at Martha’s. Mitch’s next expansion came with the addition of an extremely successful catering company which catered to nearly every major function in the city for decades.
Later on Mitch married Ethel Scontsas in 1959. They had three children, Kathy, Bill and Chris . Although they all grew up working for the family business, it was the two brothers who decided to take over in 1985 after they had both graduated from college. They began working with a restoration team on a 2 year renovation of the Merchants Exchange building which consists of an entire block of Main Street . It was at this time that they replaced the luncheonette and sweet shoppe with what was to be known as “Martha’s Exchange”. In December 1988 they reopened; the first floor being a restaurant and bar, which was five times larger than the original diner. On the second floor they designed a large function hall, that allowed them to cater on site, they even kept the Sweet Shoppe which helped to keep the nostalgia alive.
Five years later in 1993 Bill and Chris had the insight to capitalize on the excitement surrounding the hand crafted beer industry. That’s when they added Nashua’s first and only micro-brewery to the restaurant , doubling the size of the bar and adding 90 more seats. They also included a bar which was originally used in one of Al Capone’s speakeasies in Chicago in order to add character to the expansion.
Martha’s has grown and changed throughout the years and will continue to do so in the future in an effort to help keep downtown Nashua alive and vibrant. Our customers come from all walks of life and all parts of the world. It’s our goal for all those who visit, to enjoy a home-brewed beer, a delicious steak, a burger, or simply a piece of candy, and leave with great memories.