If you lived near Lake Ronkonkoma, there were a number of reasons you might find yourself at the Bavarian Inn in the 1970s. It hosted countless weddings, anniversaries, christenings, sweet 16s and other events throughout the decade, leaving many a Long Islander with fond memories that lasted a lifetime. It was also a darn good German restaurant.
The Bavarian Inn, located at 422 Smithtown Blvd., started as a beach resort and a hot dog stand along the northern shore of Lake Ronkonkoma in the 1930s called “Ronkonkoma Shores.” William Huber Sr. purchased the pavilion in 1939, offering a picturesque place where one could park their car, rent a rowboat, and make use his bathhouses, all for the reasonable fee of $1.50.
The property eventually morphed into a popular catering hall that offered authentic German Cuisine throughout the 40s. In 1955, the owner’s son, William B. Huber and his wife Elizabeth converted the property into the Bavarian Inn.
From the outside, The Bavarian Inn looked like a snow-topped mountain chalet, complete with German theming throughout the interior that included a salad bar built inside of an old Volkswagen.
The restaurant continued its tradition for fine German cuisine. This reputation helped the business grow into a full-fledged catering hall, with restaurant seating for 140 and catering for 3 times that amount.
In the decades that followed, it became the local go-to place for all sorts of events, weddings, birthday parties, anniversaries, holiday dinners, sweet 16s, business functions, you name it.
The restaurant expanded twice over the years, in 1967 and 1972, evidence of its steady popularity. As a result, many a resident has a memory or two of sharing a special day or a fine meal at the Bavarian Inn.
William Huber passed away in 1986, but his family continued to run the operation for many years. The future proved difficult, not because of a drop in quality or a lack of popularity, but simply because of nature.
For many years, the restaurant waged a battle with the rising waters of Lake Ronkonkoma. Despite their best efforts to protect from flooding, the problems became so severe that they eventually took a toll on the electrical system and the structure itself.
The Bavarian Inn closed its doors in 2007, and then it sat as an eyesore for many years until it was mercifully demolished. A sad ending for a place that once shared so many celebrations within its walls, and also made a darn good Schnitzel.
Did you share any meals or memories at the Bavarian Inn? I would love to hear all of them in the comments section below.