It Ain't the Same Anymore on Long Island

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the ancient mariner
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2007/08/27 17:58:46 (permalink)

It Ain't the Same Anymore on Long Island

For the 60 years I lived on Long Island (in New York of course) one of my favorite restaurants was the Snapper Inn in Oakdale. We would drive many miles to be there and it was always worth the drive. Right on the water, great restaurant for special occasions.

Saturday was my daughter's birthday so I took her and her husband there for dinner. It ain't what it used to be. Service was slow---
10 minutes from seating til anyone approached the table and that was a kid with water; food ordinary, have had better blue fish dinner in the Meditteranean Snack Bar in Huntington for $8 than this at $23.00; high prices were not reflected anywhere during the dinner
and so the experience was not so hot.

It is a shame that places you revere go down hill. Is it just Long Island or is it everywhere ??? Are taxes, wages, insurance, etc. killing the business ????
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    divefl
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    RE: It Ain't the Same Anymore on Long Island 2007/08/27 18:10:33 (permalink)
    Restaurants start resting on their reputations.

    Service and food go down hill as number of customers go up, the when business leaves no one bothers to correct the problems.

    Could have been sold or passed down to bad owner.

    It happens all over. Sometimes when you here of landmarks closing, it's for a good reason. Sometimes building owners try and jump up rent on owners who are forced to leave. Reeves come back. I need Stawberry pie!!
    #2
    Ashphalt
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    RE: It Ain't the Same Anymore on Long Island 2007/08/27 19:32:21 (permalink)
    I think it's the nature of the business. I can remember being taken as a kid in the 60s and 70s to special event places that were some of my Parent's or Grandparent's old favorites from the 30s to 50s and having them be highly disappointed. Two I can think of in the Rhode Island area were The Wharf Tavern (also a seafood on the water place) and The Old Grist Mill (famous for Yankee food and RI johnnycakes). I believe these still exist now, in some form, and have probably been through multiple incarnations since I was there.

    I suspect that it's hard for older places to stay at the top of their game. It must be difficult to keep the same quality of help, cooking, ingredients, and personal commitment over generations. It's probably even more difficult now that the restaurant business is so dynamic. New restaurants and styles come up so quickly, and it's rare to find a place that appeals across decades. Long Island, so influenced by NYC, is a prime candidate for this sort of pressure.

    I guess we're lucky to have our memories, to appreciate what does remain, and to be smart enough to find new places we like. Isn't that part of what Roadfood is about?

    #3
    mland520
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    RE: It Ain't the Same Anymore on Long Island 2007/08/27 20:37:45 (permalink)
    Growing up in upstate (NY) I had two most favorite places for extra special occassions. One was the Ships Lantern Inn, a beautiful place down south of our city on the Hudson. We took our daughter here for her first very grown up dinner (had a Cesar salad prepared at the table and then a customer across from us had Cherrie Jubilee- boy was she IMPRESSED!)
    The other was a place closer to town, called LeHerbs- food and service were impeccable at both- we haven't been back there to visit in such a long time- I don't know if they are even still in business.
    #4
    Tony Bad
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    RE: It Ain't the Same Anymore on Long Island 2007/08/28 08:13:36 (permalink)
    Sorry to hear of your bad dining experiences. The place you mention, and others in the Long ISland area (and I am sure elsewhere in the country) that have such nice locations (right on water) often seem to survive because of where they are rather than their food.

    Next time let me know when you are coming and what you are looking to eat and I'll help. I had heard the Snapper in has been relying on history for some time. I think there are factors that make running any business hard on Long Island, but keeping a restaurant good is hard anywhere. These folks just need to work at it a bit more.

    Did you drive past the sad spectacle of decaying old Bronco Charlie's when you were in Oakdale?
    #5
    namret
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    RE: It Ain't the Same Anymore on Long Island 2007/08/28 08:47:12 (permalink)
    The Snapper Inn was one of my favorites back in the early 80's. Sorry you had a so-so experience but that's the nature of this business.
    #6
    the ancient mariner
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    RE: It Ain't the Same Anymore on Long Island 2007/08/28 09:14:38 (permalink)
    Mornin' Mr Bad------it is always good to speak with MR. Bad.

    Yep we went right past Bronco Charlie's and it was a sad sight. It was one of my Sainted Mothers favorite restaurants. As we drove by I told my daughter and the lovely Mary Ann that old Bronco Charlie Miller himself was there when we first frequented the place. He was an old Pony Express Rider. Supposedly the youngest ever at 11 years of age. Now the PE went out of business in 1861 so he would have had to be born in '50 which makes him 100 when I met him. I wonder if it was the real guy ?????? Have to do some checking. Imagine having such a dangerous job at 11. My grandkids aren't allowed to cross the street alone at that age. Times have changed.

    I will be visiting up here from Florida for a few months so if y'all can recommend a better restaurant or two in the Babylon (my birthplace) to Huntington area (where I lived for 46 years)I would be surely obliged (that's a little southern senior citizen lingo). Thank you Mr B. Do you remember who the fabulous Mr B was ????????
    #7
    Tony Bad
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    RE: It Ain't the Same Anymore on Long Island 2007/08/28 10:17:12 (permalink)
    I'll think of a few places and send them on to you, but if I forget, please poke me with a stick and remind me.

    You already mentioned one of my favorites in Huntington, the Meditteranean Snack Bar. Babylon has really had a lot of growth as far as restaurants are concerned in recent years. Kotobuki is a great Japanese place in Babylon, and I have had some good meals at La Bella Palermo. Gemelli's is good, but I think they are too $$$. I also like the Argyle Grill, but it can get noisy if the bar has started getting busy when you are eating.

    Like I said, poke me just before you head up and let me know what you are hungry for!

    Bronco Charlies was my Grandmother's favorite, and a place we went on special occasions. I live nearby, and it makes me sad when I see what it has become. I have fantasies of winning the lottery and restoring the place to its former glory. I'll be sure to invite you as a guest of honor if it ever happens!
    #8
    rongmtek
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    RE: It Ain't the Same Anymore on Long Island 2007/08/29 09:57:46 (permalink)
    I grew up in New Hyde Park (Nassau County, at the edge of Queens).
    Very few restaurants of my youth (I'm 53) remain, but there are 2 places that are almost unchanged- in appearance, and more importantly, in the quality of the food:
    EDDIE'S, whose great thin crust pizza I have discussed on this site many times,
    and another neighborhood pizza/red sauce joint called VILLA MARGHERITA, on Hillside Avenue just west of Herricks Road. They still make excellent veal (and chicken) parm; the red sauce tastes EXACTLY as it did when I was a kid. It's a thick, slightly tangy red, and I still eat there once in a while.
    Oh- and the original UMBERTO'S on Jericho Turnpike is still there. Best sicilian pie EVER, but I have not tried it in many years.
    Ron
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    the ancient mariner
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    RE: It Ain't the Same Anymore on Long Island 2007/08/29 12:11:32 (permalink)
    rongmtek---------Umberto's is #1 in my book---I think their pizza was far and away the best I ever had. And in your neighborhood their used to be a German place named Koenig which you could see from the LIRR, good but not as good as Metropolitan Ave around Forrest Park and the cemeteries--is that still there ??
    Also I used to go to a German place called the Plattdeutch (or something like that) they had a soccer field and picnic grounds and if I am not mistaken it was on Merrick RD around Valley Stream. Loved Cookie's in Valley Stream also. And right on Northern Blvd (I think) at the Railroad station after Mineola and before Roslyn (don't know name of town) there was a pub named McMahon's (or something) with great hamburgers and very cold beer.
    Steven Rushmore recommends a place on Jericho Tpke in Mineola and I once ate at a great fish joint that was Portgagese in that same area. The spelling of Port----may be incorrect. Please forgive me, I am better with Irish words.

    #10
    PaulBPool
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    RE: It Ain't the Same Anymore on Long Island 2007/08/29 12:31:14 (permalink)
    Just got an Umberto's sicilian pie, and a thin pepperoni last week while visiting my Mom. Both still very good pies, good sauce, crust properly cooked, generous toppings.
    Victor Koenig's is still in Floral Park, and if you stay with the traditional German dishes, you can still have a very satisfying meal there.
    Plattdeutsch Park Restaurant is still on Hempstead Turnpike in Franklin Square, they do a very nice "Octoberfest" every year, I'm not sure if they are open 7 days anymore, but the last time I was there for a catered affair, the food was good.
    There are many good Portugese restaurants in Mineola, on Mineola Blvd. and on Jericho Turnpike. I have had good meals in most of them over the years.
    Many of the 'old' landmark places are gone, or under new management; However, as someone who's lived here his whole life, rest assured that there are still many, many great places to eat, both "roadfood style" and more upscale places as well.
    Welcome back!
    #11
    fabulousoyster
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    RE: It Ain't the Same Anymore on Long Island 2007/08/29 13:23:48 (permalink)
    Its everywhere. Everything changes, when it goes downhill its time to find a new place. Its sad to say goodbye.
    #12
    Podie1956
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    RE: It Ain't the Same Anymore on Long Island 2007/08/29 21:42:18 (permalink)
    Just wanted to mention I've enjoyed this thread. I'm 51 and grew up in Queens Village and my best friend lived in New Hyde Park. On the too rare occasions I visit NYC, all I want is Italian food. But we did have our 30 year high school reunion at Victor Koenig's and I thought it was very good!
    #13
    rongmtek
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    RE: It Ain't the Same Anymore on Long Island 2007/08/30 07:50:49 (permalink)
    Hey fellas! Looks like half of Long Guyland is jumping on this one.
    I have not lived on LI since 1973, but I own a business in Albertson, so I'm there quite a bit. I agree about the Portuguese restaurants. CHURRASCARIA on Jer. Tpke. in Mineola is quite good, although I always feel the meats could use a bit more seasoning. But I know the style is pretty much salt, pepper & on the grill! I also shop in the small markets that cater to the Portuguese population, and there is a new (very big) Korean supermarket for the growing community. I find so many interesting things and the prices are usually better than the standard places.
    The delis are not holding up well; used to be almost every one made a great hero. (I never heard the term "wedge" until I moved to the Hudson Valley in 1982.)
    Anybody remember DAPPER DAN'S sub shop on Union Tpke.?
    ALICE'S RESTAURANT on Northern Blvd. was a favorite place- the guitar player played the entire WHITE ALBUM one night. And Patrick's Pub was the archetypal Irish bar.
    There was an all-night diner called the CAMAY on Hillside Ave., east of Herricks Rd. Two Greek brothers (who else) named Gus & Artie ran it. A dive, for sure; dirty plates & greasy food. But coming home from the FILLMORE in the wee hours, you could sit there and try to get your head straight.
    I come down on LI for the crowded, selfish lifestyle- but I gotta admit it was a damn good place to grow up back then.
    #14
    rongmtek
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    RE: It Ain't the Same Anymore on Long Island 2007/08/30 07:53:07 (permalink)
    Oh, yeah- one more thing:
    I parked cars for the last 2 years of high school (and I even had a license the second year) at THE JOLLY FISHERMAN, still going strong in Roslyn.
    Great money for a bunch of kids, and they fed us every night, too.
    No lobsters, of course; but they were pretty good to us.
    Ron
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    the ancient mariner
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    RE: It Ain't the Same Anymore on Long Island 2007/08/30 10:27:37 (permalink)
    Patrick's Pub was a place I often stopped at for an Irish Coffee on the way home from someplace. Often when the LIX was stopped dead I would take 25A to Glen Cove--so Patrick was right there when I needed him.

    Parking cars at The Jolly Fisherman reminds me of the valet parking at Pappagalo's in Glen Head. A couple handed the keys to the Cadillac to a young man and never saw the car again. Not only did he steal the car but drove to their home (address on registration wrapped around steering column), opened the door with the keys they had been so nice to give him and filled the car with goodies. And away he went into the night while they enjoyed a lovely meal.
    Smart crooks don't get shot !!!!

    Loooooooooooooong Island sure was a great place to grow up---U R 100% correct !!!!!!!
    #16
    rongmtek
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    RE: It Ain't the Same Anymore on Long Island 2007/08/30 10:56:13 (permalink)
    Mariner-
    Great "valet parking" story; I guess that was really service with a smile! (I always take my house keys with me when I park in a garage.)
    One night, one of the crew at the FISHERMAN, in the usual mad crush (200 cars for 85 spaces, and everyone wants their car NOW) backed a Caddy right into the lake.
    You can imagine the typical NY-LI response: wild cheering from the lobster-eating customers, while we all jumped into the lake to help the poor guy.
    Ron
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    Ivyhouse
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    RE: It Ain't the Same Anymore on Long Island 2007/08/30 11:26:29 (permalink)
    It's true that things aren't the same on "The Island." I am a little older than you, rongmtek -- grew up in Port Washington. I moved away several years ago but still have lots of family in the area so I am back there often.

    Louie's Restaurant, on the dock in Port Washington, was a glorified fishing shack of a restaurant when I was growing up. It has morphed into a high-end place with prices to match -- not bad, just not the same place.

    What I do enjoy when I get back to LI and what haven't seem to have changed much are the deli's -- Italian and Jewish. I haven't found anything as good where I am now, in the metro DC area.
    #18
    rongmtek
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    RE: It Ain't the Same Anymore on Long Island 2007/08/30 11:36:53 (permalink)
    Hello, Ivy-
    I wish I agreed about the delis; I now find them a shadow of their former selves. The Jewish delis are a bit too corporate for me (Ben's, etc) and the food does not have the same "taam".(That's taste in yiddish.)
    DELI KING in Lake Success is no better than OK, but very overpriced. Rather make the trip downtown to KATZ'S and get the real deal.
    What are ya' gonna do? Everything changes.
    BTW, I do remember Louie's, another great example of those times. There is very little now that has not been test-marketed, branded, p.r.'ed to a turn and turned out in a homogenized, mass-market friendly form.
    Blooming onion, indeed.
    Ron
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    PaulBPool
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    RE: It Ain't the Same Anymore on Long Island 2007/08/30 11:59:13 (permalink)
    You can still find good 'jewish' deli food if you look around. Great little place on Hempstead Turnpike in East Meadow, called Pastrami Plus. Maybe 6 small tables, place is actually run by a mid-east family, and the food is wonderful. Pastrami like you used to get in the best delis, homemade knishes, grilled hot dogs, excellent salads and pickles. Two-fer dinner specials, and the portions are very big. On the south side of Hempstead Turnpike, near Stouts Ale House.
    #20
    essemjay58
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    RE: It Ain't the Same Anymore on Long Island 2007/08/30 13:42:18 (permalink)
    It seems to me that restaurants have a lifespan. Even ones that were once fabulous eventually lose interest and peter out, and pretty soon it's second rate, then third rate, then customers lose interest, and pretty soon you drive by and they're shut down. Some last longer than others, but pretty soon, pffffft, they're dead. I don't know if it's the kids of the original owner, or the grandkids, but it seems inevitable. I know the percentage of businesses (of all types) that survive into the second generation is small, and the number that make it into the third is miniscule.
    #21
    chickenwingking
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    RE: It Ain't the Same Anymore on Long Island 2007/08/30 16:21:50 (permalink)
    I passed by Steve's Pier One in Bayville Recently. I had first been there when I was a little kid, was there numerous times with my grandparents, had family events there and took many dates there including my wife. In recent years I heard that it had gone downhill except of course for the location overlooking the sound which is fabulous. Sadly it now appears to have been shut down.
    #22
    the ancient mariner
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    RE: It Ain't the Same Anymore on Long Island 2007/08/30 17:54:37 (permalink)
    Steve's Pier 1 shut down. Man that seems impossible. Such a great place, with such a great site with such great sunsets. Right in the middle of the "Gold Coast" lots of big bucks there. Well that's life.

    A Steve's story....The chef, who I think was Steve's brother, went into Rallye Motors when they were still in Glen Cove. It was between lunch and dinner so he had his whites on and they were not perfectly white. A few stains here and there. He started looking at a mercedes, but no salesman approached him. Finally, with his best Greek accent
    he hollered out----Can someone answer a question. The salesman who was next one "up" reluctantly went to him, answered his question curtly and went back to his desk. The chef looked some more and finally said--OK I wanna buy this car, while pulling out a roll of bills. With a smile the "up" guy jumped out of his seat in time to hear the Chef holler----but not from you you s-- o- a b----.
    #23
    rongmtek
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    RE: It Ain't the Same Anymore on Long Island 2007/08/31 08:22:00 (permalink)
    While we are all still enjoying this stroll down Memory Lane (and by that I mean Jericho Turnpike), do any of you remember McGinnis's?
    On Jericho Tpke. (where else?), just west of Herricks Road, in the 50's and 60's McGinnis's was a very large hotdog restaurant, with excellent hand-cut fries, basically it was very much like NATHAN'S. They had the big stainless steel tubs of sauerkraut and relish set out at tables for community use. They also had old-fashioned tavern-type bowling games, skeeball, a fortune-telling machine and a large outdoor lot with real rides. I got stuck at the top of the not-very-big ferris wheel when I was about 4 years old when the motor conked out. I spent about half an hour at the top, and it felt like I could see the whole world laid out below me- what a treat!
    I stopped in sometime in the early 90's, and it had become a very fancy white tablecloth restaurant. I walked in the back entrance and a maitre d' asked me, "How many, sir?"
    When I looked around, I realized that the correct answer was no longer, "Two with kraut and a side of fries."

    Ron
    #24
    kozel
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    RE: It Ain't the Same Anymore on Long Island 2007/08/31 09:37:54 (permalink)
    When we moved to Ft Salonga over 25 years ago, I called the Blue Point Oyster Company in Sayville and asked the guy "If you were going to a restaurant and wanted good oysters, where would you go?" Without hesitation he answered, "The Snapper Inn". What a great place! I remember a swordfish steak with anchovy butter that was outstanding I had one year around Christmas with snow falling outside. Last time there about 5 years ago I was very disappointed.

    Steve's Pier 1 was a favorite of my mom. The last time I was there was over 10 years ago and it was terrible.

    Lutzen's Oyster house in Port Jeff wasn't great to begin with, now it's even worse as a place called Papa Joe's Shrimp and Crab Factory. Port Jeff deserves better; it's a nice town.

    I don't get it; Long Island has more shoreline that Connecticut and no where as many good shore restaurants.
    #25
    kozel
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    RE: It Ain't the Same Anymore on Long Island 2007/08/31 10:15:28 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by the ancient mariner

    I will be visiting up here from Florida for a few months so if y'all can recommend a better restaurant or two in the Babylon (my birthplace) to Huntington area (where I lived for 46 years)I would be surely obliged (that's a little southern senior citizen lingo). Thank you Mr B. Do you remember who the fabulous Mr B was ????????


    Maybe while you are up here we can schedule an informal Roadfood get-together? We have a few months as you say. Tony? Scott? Any other current LIer?

    How about trying http://www.americanburgercompany.com/main.php

    Oh, and to answer your question, "Billy Eckstine".

    #26
    the ancient mariner
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    RE: It Ain't the Same Anymore on Long Island 2007/08/31 17:29:40 (permalink)
    kozel--------

    Your answer to the trivia question is absolutely correct. Billy Eckstein, the "Fabulous Mr B", was a favorite of my youth. You win 10 silver dollars, a box of Snickers chocolate covered candy and 2 tickets to next weeks presentation at the Orphieum Theater here in lovely downtown Detroit.

    As for getting together, I don't see why not. Tony Bad is an Administrator so he might know the names of all the folks on Looooooong Hi-Land. If youse guys can come up with a place and time I am sure I can take time from my busy shed-you-al to attend. I hope it isn't formal though,my tux is still in Florida. Speaking of hi-land---the highest point on LI used to be Jane's Hill in Huntington, but now I think it is the Bethpage dump. Time marchs on.

    The Smithtown (something)House on Main St,-- right in the middle of the village -- was still great about 10 years ago. It was a favorite German Restaurant called Ruoff's in the good old days.

    #27
    bigbear
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    RE: It Ain't the Same Anymore on Long Island 2007/09/01 00:59:55 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by kozel

    Maybe while you are up here we can schedule an informal Roadfood get-together? We have a few months as you say. Tony? Scott? Any other current LIer?
    .....

    Yeah... I'd be up for an informal get-together.

    Just a suggestion... I have always wanted to try the Black Forest Brew Haus in Farmingdale.
    http://www.blackforestbrewhaus.com/
    #28
    the ancient mariner
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    RE: It Ain't the Same Anymore on Long Island 2007/09/01 09:17:10 (permalink)
    Big Bear---the last time I was there it didn't seem like it was doing well. The dining room felt damp and dreary but the food was good. That was 3 or 4 years ago. I remember when it first opened it was a great place.
    #29
    kozel
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    RE: It Ain't the Same Anymore on Long Island 2007/09/01 09:21:56 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by the ancient mariner
    The Smithtown (something)House on Main St,-- right in the middle of the village -- was still great about 10 years ago. It was a favorite German Restaurant called Ruoff's in the good old days.

    I passed by the place last night and it is no longer there. I forget the new name on the place but the banner said "Grand Opening" so it has to be recent. I also passed the Bavarian Inn in Lake Ronkonkoma and they are closed. It seems they are a victim of the rising water table around the lake and part of it is under water. I like BigBear's suggestion, Black Forest is an informal place. I could go semi-formal, I have the Tux jacket but some how lost the pants.
    #30
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