Harveys Lake History

The Lake's Restaurants and Bars
Part I

I. Introduction

It is impractical to cover the many restaurants and bars which served at the Lake during its public resort years. The settled population was rather small until recent decades. A bursting resort season was basically only from late May to early September. For both reasons, it was difficult to support sustained public accommodations. Many restaurants and bars only lasted a few seasons at best, and records are scarce.

A number of more prominent hotels and public services are noted elsewhere on this website, and in the Harvey's Lake book.

This article explores a few more of the Lake's restaurants and bars where photographs have been preserved and documentation is available.

II. The Early Restaurants

Both Lord's Restaurant at the Picnic Ground and Hill's Pavilion at Sunset claimed to be the Lake's oldest restaurant.

The earliest hotel at the Lake was the Lake House/Rhodes Hotel in 1855. In later decades the Lake Grove House and Oneonta hotels followed at Sunset. The Lehigh Valley Picnic Ground opened in 1892. Summer boarding houses would follow. Hotels and boarding houses provided meals to guests. The Picnic Ground had food concession stands in its early years.

But independent restaurants did not appear until a new century dawned in 1900.


A. Burnett's

A claimant to the Lake's earliest restaurants may be George L. Burnett. He was a photographer and in 1894 his studio was at the D.L.&W. railroad station in Kingston.

In the 1890s, George Burnett also operated a seasonal photographic studio at the Lehigh Valley Picnic Ground at the Lake. By 1898-1899 he also had a photo gallery and restaurant on the Lake side of the road, opposite the picnic ground and Noxen Road. In 1900 he added a rear extension over the water which served as an ice-cream parlor, along with bath houses to accommodate swimming. He was associated with Michael Dougherty who in 1901 also managed a restaurant which was close to Burnett's. Both structures were seemingly owned by Burnett. They also owned a pair of boarding houses near the LVRR park, which were destroyed in a February 1902 fire.

Dougherty's and Burnett's, 1907
FCP Collectionn

Burnett's may qualify as the Lake's earliest independent restaurant, except that Burnett's and Dougherty's may have been primarily illegal bars. Both Burnett and Dougherty, along with John Hayes, a bartender, were arrested in August 1902 for selling liquor without a license.

It likely did not help Burnett's case that he claimed he never sold alcoholic drinks. He said he purchased six cases of beer weekly for his own use! Some patrons claimed they had drinks at Burnett's but did not know if the brew contained alcohol or if it was flavored with Lake water. The judge excoriated the witness testimony. In February 1903, both Burnett and Dougherty were found guilty, fined and ordered to serve a harsh 7 months in jail. However, due to ill health, it appears Dougherty was pardoned and released in June 1903.

Burnett continued his Lake business after his prison term. In 1907 Burnett held one of the five liquor licenses in Lake Township, with a sixth by the Oneonta Hotel, which was actually in Lehman Township at the time.

The fate of the Burnett and Dougherty restaurants is not known, and likely were dismantled rather early. In 1909 Burnett sold his Lake interests to the prominent Lake resident Calvin Dymond. In early 1921 Dymond sold a portion of the former Burnett lake front to the Lake Transit Company for a new steamboat landing to replace an earlier landing serving the LVRR picnic ground. Burnett moved to Easton with his wife Aurora Wentz Burnett where he was well-regarded and where he died at age 65 in January 1930.

Further information on Michael Dougherty could not be reliably found. There was a Michael Dougherty, a carpenter, working at Retreat State Hospital who rescued a companion from drowning in a river ferry related accident in August 1917 but Dougherty himself drowned.


B. Hill's Pavilion

Hill's Pavilion, c. 1908
FCP Collection

The most prominent public venue at the Lake in the new century in 1900 was the Lehigh Valley Picnic Ground, served by the Lehigh Valley Railroad. The Inlet (now called Sunset) was the only other prominent public site at the Lake, with the Rhoads Hotel as early as 1855, followed much later by the Lake Grove House and Oneonta hotels.

The opening of a trolley service to Inlet in 1897-98 expanded opportunities for increased visitors and public services at Inlet. The Hill family was the most prominent in the 1900-era to serve general day-guests to Inlet. Margaret Everingham (1841-1919) was born in Guelph, Ontario, Canada, and had married William J. Hill, Sr. She took the name Martha rather than Margaret, and by 1900, now a widow, she moved to Harvey's Lake with her two sons, William J. Hill, Jr., and Harry E. Hill.

Martha Hill was commonly known at the Lake as "Mother Hill' or "Grandma Hill." By 1902-1903 she and William, Jr., erected Hill's Restaurant, or Pavilion, on a narrow spit of land next to the Inlet bridge. The entrance fronted the road, but the structure was principally on piles over the inlet water. In 1903 William J. Hill, Jr., became the Shawanese post-master and the post-office was transferred from the Rhoads Hotel to Hill's.

"Grandma Hill" at Hill's Postcard Stand
FCP Collection

In 1904 the Hills added a photoscope to the store. It was an early five cent "selfie" photograph machine.

The Hills also had a small newspaper and candy stand on Oneonta Hill (now Sunset Terrace) below the Lake's trolley station at the top of the hill. It served trolley passengers and visitors to the Traction Company Pavilion (a dance hall) near the trolley stop.

The first floor of Hill's Pavilion held the post office, souvenir shop and candy store, and a shop that sold Austrian fine-china made for Hill's. A dining room was in the center of the building. Other features were a soda fountain and a cigar and tobacco shop.

On the top left of the building were family living quarters, the post-office and the site of the Lake's earliest telephone exchange. On the top right were living quarters for some of the summer help. Hill's employed as many as 16 temporary employees.

Patrons could view William J. Hill, Jr., make his famous salt-water taffy inside the pavilion. The Hills also sold beautifully tinted postcards of the Lake, created especially in Germany, until WWI ended their production.

Hill's Postcard - Acoma Steamboat

Visitors to concerts at the Traction Company Pavilion on Oneonta Hill would often walk to Hill's at the bridge for a quick ice-cream cone during intermission.

William J. Hill, Jr., left the family business around WWI and his brother Harry E. Hill managed the business with his mother. Martha J. Hill died in May 1919 and is buried in the Idetown Cemetery.

Hill's was certainly the earliest full-scale restaurant at Inlet, if not the Lake.

The Inlet exploded in growth as a recreational site immediately after Martha Hill's death. Hill's became the Lake View restaurant in 1921, with George Doukakis as its proprietor.

After a time, W.J. Hill, Jr., opened a salt-water taffy stand near the Sunset Pavilion which opened in 1920. It was destroyed in the famous Sunset fire in August 1929.

Hill's Pavilion was taken over by the Lake Improvement Company in 1921-22, when it became the remodeled Lake View Restaurant. Harry E. Hill maintained the Oneonta Hill souvenir stand until 1924, about the time the Traction Company Pavilion closed.


C. Lord's Restaurant

In 1923 Charles Lord advertised that he operated his restaurant since 1900, but other evidence suggests a later date.

Lord's Restaurant, c. 1915
FCP Collection

For four decades Lord's Restaurant was a landmark on the Lake front nearly opposite Noxen Road and Lakeside Drive. Charles Lord (1863-1948) was born in Beaumont, Wyoming County, and erected his Lake restaurant around 1904. Its success benefited from its location across from the Lehigh Valley Picnic Ground.

In 1915 Lord offered a water-taxi service at the Lake with his Niagara, a passenger-launch with 5 cent service across the Lake. Others also were offering launch services in competition with the Lake's larger steamboat services, but these launch services did not survive.

On May 11, 1916, a fire, likely set by an arsonist, destroyed Lord's Restaurant and two neighboring lakeside buildings. Charles Lord built a new but similar building on his site.

In 1931 Lord leased the restaurant to the Lawrence Boylan family from Ashley. But Boylan's Tea Room only lasted one season.

Lakeview Inn, c. 1970
FCP Collection

In 1946 Lord's Restaurant was acquired by Caroline Waskiewicz who, with her husband Edward, operated it as the Lakeview Inn. In late December 1948, Charles Lord died at his Luzerne home. In mid-July 1975 Caroline Waskiewicz, Kingston, died. In late February 1976, the Lakeview Inn was saved from loss by the Lake's fire company when the Lakeview's neighbor, the Lamp Post Inn, was destroyed by fire.

The Waskiewicz family continued to operate the Lakeview Inn until mid-1986 when new ownership renamed it the Marina Café. In later years it was converted into a private residence.

III. Prohibition

With the adoption of the Eighteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the Prohibition Era became effective on January 17, 1920. The amendment prohibited the manufacture of most alcoholic beverages. It was not illegal to actually consume alcoholic drinks.

The Harvey's Lake Protective Association was created in 1920, but initially it was not designed to enforce Prohibition. The association's immediate concerns were road improvement, fire protection, gambling and traffic enforcement. Gambling included abuse of "games of chance" and slot machines. The Lake community previously relied on county detectives who provided limited coverage at the Lake. The association hired an early police force and subsidized State Police for summer prohibition service. The association also took a crack at creating a separate borough at Harvey's Lake and it opposed the creation of Sandy Beach.

Violations of Prohibition era laws at the Lake were rampant, and bar owners eventually were under threat from not only county detectives, but also association police, State Police and Federal agents. Violations were particularly rampant at Sunset, but bar owners elsewhere were at risk. Seemingly, the Picnic Ground, later Hanson's, and Sandy Beach, had a history relatively free of violations.

The Twenty-First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which repealed Prohibition, became effective December 5, 1933.

IV. Sunset

The rise of Sunset as a major competitor of the Lehigh Valley Picnic Grounds began on Decoration Day, May 28, 1920, with the opening of L.C. Schwab's Sunset Pavilion, a combination dance hall and bath house on the shore of the Lake.

In December 1921, George W. Bennethum incorporated the Lake Improvement Company to completely develop Sunset as a recreation destination. By the summer of 1922, the company had established a bowling alley, bath house, a lengthy beach, and refreshment stands, along with a Lake bus line, ice houses and a gas station. It also had an outdoor theatre, and leased cottages known as Bungalow City, and it had its own power house for electricity in the area.

The company also remodeled or rebuilt the former Hill's Pavilion as the Lake View Restaurant which it leased to various managers. At a later date, it would evolve into the LaCasa.

In May 1922 the wondrous Oneonta Pavilion, which would draw famous jazz-age dance bands, was built at the bottom of Oneonta Hill (now Sunset Terrace) along Lakeside Drive, but it was destroyed in a June 1928 fire.

The Sunset landscape was completed in late December 1923 with the Casino Ball Room which opened on New Year's Eve. Located next to the bridge, it was expanded by May 1924 to an advertised "Mammoth Pleasure Palace," with the largest bowling alley in the region, billiards, a 250-seat dining area, soda and ice-cream parlor, and dancing day and night.


A. The Cotton Club

In this Sunset development mix was Helen Ambrose, whose family would have significant property interests at Sunset for the next 50 years. In 1922 Helen Ambrose, Stella E. Starr, and Sofia Oskierko (Osko) opened the Grotto Cote D'Asur restaurant behind the Lake Improvement Company's bowling alley. It was a combination restaurant-inn, likely built by Ambrose. The partnership dissolved in April 1924, and the site became the White Birch Inn, managed by Edward Ambrose and Stanley Stogosky. Sophie Osko relocated the Grotto Cote D'Asur near the Casino by the Lake bridge and in May 1929 it became the New Grotto which was a general restaurant not a pizza site. (The present-day Grotto Pizza is located on Osko's site and Grotto Pizza adopted the established Grotto name.)

The White Birch Inn, in common with many Lake bars, had issues with liquor violations and gambling devices. It was also nearly destroyed in the Lake's most disastrous fire in late August 1929. The fire consumed the Sunset Pavilion, the Bennethum bowling alley, the power plant, and many related structures. The telephone exchange building, a meat market, and independent stores were lost. Firemen were able to save the White Birch Inn, the Casino, Grotto, Bungalow City and the new Lake View Restaurant.

Circle Inn, earlier
Cotton Club, 1976
FCP Collection

In June 1930 Ambrose listed the White Birch Inn, now called the Paloma Inn, for rent and before the month was over, James Pesavento and Jack Lurie reopened it as the Cotton Club, which had a nearly twenty-year run at the site. Opening night was Friday, June 20, 1930, with Petey's Honey Boys, a Dixie-styled Black Orchestra. Pete Peterson's Black 6-piece band was the house band nightly for a few years. On July 10, 1930, famed orchestra leader Duke Ellington appeared at Fernbrook Park, Dallas, with the authentic Cotton Club Orchestra from Harlem, New York City. The Lake's Cotton Club was soon known as the "Aristocrat" night club in the region.

In its early years the Cotton Club engaged national entertainment: The Hillman Brothers, who appeared in the movie "The Black Birds of 1931"; Ben Major and His Sister; Bill Johnson, credited as originating the Charleston dance; and the Sterling Sisters from Montreal.

By September 1931 Pesavento and Lurie left the Cotton Club to open the Plantation Club at the former Lake View Restaurant site. The Ambrose family, which owned the Cotton Club site, assumed management of the Cotton Club, but as the renamed Club Royal, and by July 1932 Edward P. Ambrose was under a suspended sentence and on probation for a Federal violation of liquor laws.

In 1935 Stanley (Stogie) Stogoski became manager of the Cotton Club, dropping the Club Royal title. Stogoski was married to Edna Ambrose, a daughter of Helen Ambrose.

On Sunday, May 30, 1937, the Lake police raided the Cotton Club and found 152 people at the club in violation of a ban on Sunday sales. In November 1937 Stogoski's LCB license was revoked. The Cotton Club remained closed until 1939. The Ambrose family then resumed operation of the Club.

Edward Ambrose operated the club until October 1941 when he died at age 38. Operation of the club, if open at all, is unclear during WWII.

Helen Ambrose assumed direct management of the Cotton Club in 1945 after a court battle to receive an LCB license. During the winter the club was only open on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, but typically was open daily during more seasonal weather.

The last ad for the Cotton Club was July 16, 1949. Ownership and operation passed to Peter E. Ambrose, son of Helen Ambrose, who operated the business as the Circle Inn. In September 1962 the Circle Inn, renamed the Top Shelf, was damaged in a fire. (Ambrose was also the lessor of the Tail-O-Pup summer refreshment stand at Sunset). In August 1965, the Top Shelf was sold to Helen Sgarlet, who would rename it the Scarlet Inn rather than the Sgarlet Inn.

The Cotton Club structure last served as Strive Multi-Sports, and at this time (May 2021) it is vacant.


B. Sloppy Tony's

The story of Sloppy Tony's is a sorrowful cocktail of history and tragedy.

Sloppy Tony's was originally the self-standing bar of the historic Rhodes Hotel (1855-1908) along Carpenter Road at Sunset. After a fire destroyed the hotel in January 1908, the Rhodes family continued operation of the bar.

John D. Carpenter (1861-1930) married Amy W. Rhodes and the bar became Carpenter's Hotel. In the early 1930s Anthony Burnett became the hotel's manager/bartender. In May 1934, Burnett leased the hotel from the Carpenter Estate and opened Sloppy Tony's at the site.

In the very early Sunday morning on June 3, 1934, Burnett and Charles Duda were heard fighting outside. Several men from the Casino went to the scene and the Casino manager, Sidney Ganaposki, saw Duda on the ground and Burnett kicking him. Ganaposki separated the couple and led Duda away. But Duda wanted to continue the fight, and he struck Ganaposki who pushed Duda away with an open hand. Duda fell and fatally struck his head against the concrete base of a gasoline pump.

Sloppy Tony's, 1940s
FCP Collection

At the preliminary hearing Burnett claimed he was a victim of an attempted robbery by Duda. The Casino witnesses did hear a shout, "Call the police," before arriving at the scene. But Judge John S. Fine approved a murder charge against Burnett although he was released on bail. Ganaposki was also released on bail as a material witness.

Two months later, in late August 1934, a Luzerne County grand jury, without explanation, refused to indict Burnett on any charge.

Family tragedy followed two years later in August 1936. Mrs. Anthony (Bertha) Burnett, 29, took her children, Anthony, Jr., 10, and Joan, 9, to the "Tubs" along East End Boulevard in Plains. The "Tubs" is a famous "swimming hole" in the area. The boy fell from a cliff into the stream below. His mother jumped 25 feet into the stream next to her son, but she drowned. The incident attracted Robert Oldershaw, also age 10, who swam to young Anthony, who was clinging to his dead mother. Robert was able to bring Anthony to shore and then he re-entered the stream and managed to pull the mother to shore. Other rescuers were able to retrieve Anthony and his mother from the gorge.

Sloppy Tony's was also known as Peanut Hall as the floor was a carpet of discarded peanut shells. But the bar was plagued with Liquor Control Board issues which led to several suspensions. Burnett had LCB issues as early as his manager days with the Carpenter Hotel. Between 1938 and 1946 Sloppy Tony's had numerous violations at the Lake, and at a Wilkes-Barre bar he owned. The violations were generally for Sunday sales and gambling services.

In January 1946 the Burnetts finally acquired ownership of the property from the Carpenter Estate. Late Saturday night, October 12, 1946, a defective outdoor advertising sign on a corner of Sloppy Tony's caught fire, and strong winds quickly spread the fire which heavily damaged the building. However, Burnett rebuilt the club, rebuilt a new bar and lounge area, and held a grand reopening on June 26, 1947. A number of local personalities were guest bartenders, including a close friend, Ray Hottle, owner of Hottle's famous restaurant in Wilkes-Barre.

In late 1948 Burnett had his license revoked by Judge Frank L. Pinola for Burnett's "studied disregard" of the LCB law, although Pinola, who had a Lake cottage, noted Burnett "had a nice business place, keeps it in good condition and serves good food."

Burnett had remarried and after Pinola's decision, Burnett transferred the business to his wife, Ruth. She applied for an LCB license to reopen Sloppy Tony's in her name, but the LCB refused. In December 1948, Judge J. Harold Flannery reversed the LCB and ordered the LCB to issue a license.

Flannery noted that the LCB license quota for Lehman Township, where the bar was located, had a quota of 2 licenses, but already had 8 bars. Nevertheless, since the Lake was the "most populous summer resort in the region," the Lake's "extraordinary needs" could support another license. (At an earlier time, portions of Sunset were actually in Lehman Township but were later incorporated into Harveys Lake Borough.) In addition, Flannery found no evidence Ruth Burnett was complicit in her husband's earlier violations.

Sloppy Tony's reopened in 1949-50 with Ruth Burnett as the advertised proprietor. The restaurant now listed B-B-Que as a specialty. But tragedy followed on Christmas Day 1950. The Burnett's were living at 111 Old River Road, in Wilkes-Barre. They usually wintered-over at the city's Redington Hotel, and had only moved into the new apartment in November. They had spent Christmas Eve with the Ray Hottle family.

On Christmas Ray Hottle was unable to contact the Burnetts, and went to the apartment. Unable to raise the Burnetts, Ray Hottle alerted James Horton, the building owner, who opened the apartment. Hottle found Tony and Ruth dead. They had been suffocated by gas fumes. Tony Burnett was 49; Ruth Johnson Burnett was 44.

The Lake restaurant was purchased by Dr. Charles J. and Margaret Rutt. They reopened it as Rutts Restaurant on June 27, 1951, but by April 1952, it was listed for sale. On Sunday, October 24, 1954, the entire interior of Rutts was destroyed by another fire. There are no reports it was reopened. In July 1957 the site was sold by the Rutts to Peter E. Ambrose, owner of the Circle Inn. The site was likely used to expand parking for the Circle Inn.


C. La Casa

When the Lake season opened in 1922 Hill's Pavilion had been reconstructed as the Lake View Restaurant. The first manager was George Doukakis, followed by Theodore Pringos in 1924. By 1926 the Lake Improvement Company also had a beauty and barber shop at Sunset, and in 1929 another remodeling occurred at the Lake View Restaurant. Mrs. M. J. Lapp became the Lake View manager for the 1931 season.

Lake View Restaurant, c. 1922

In September 1931 another re-design of the landmark became the Plantation Club. Described as a modern "mecca of merriment," it was operated by Jack Lurie and Hubby Pesavento, who had operated the Cotton Club. A Federal raid of the Cotton Club in September 1931, and the arrest of its bartender, may have contributed to Lurie's and Pesavento's relocation to a new club location. The Plantation Club's opening night was Saturday, September 5, 1931, with "The Band of the Bayou" from the southern United States. Other Black musical acts were also featured.

In May 1933, Ace Hoffman, Wyoming Valley's best-known photographer, leased the Plantation Club from the Bennethum Estate.

Hoffman was also the operator of the Airport Inn at the Forty Fort airport. Years earlier, in 1922, Hoffman had a photo studio at the Sunset Pavilion. He also produced a number of souvenir post card views of the Lake at that time.

Hoffman planned further renovations for the Lake club. He also sponsored a contest to re-name the club. The winner was "Ace Hoffman's." The runner-up was Lakeport Inn. Ace Hoffman's opened on Saturday, May 27, 1933, with the Harry Dobkins Orchestra, singer Helen Carey, Alma and Rowland-- a tap-dancing act, and Blues-singer Dorothy Alna.

Hoffman's had a masters of ceremonies, Vincent Cratty, who also entertained the guests. A 1926 graduate of Coughlin High School, Cratty, a tenor, had performed on radio shows in Pittsburgh and Cleveland, and he was in theatre productions.

In October 1933 Ace Hoffman was on trial before Judge W. S. McLean on a charge by the Lake's police chief, I.C. Stevenson, that Hoffman illegally sold beer on Sundays. Hoffman claimed he sold pretzels on Sunday, which came with a free beer. The judge let him off.

Ace Hoffman's, 1933

Hoffman's Lake venture did not survive. On Saturday, October 27, 1934, Hoffman's became the Club La Casa, owed by Estelle Bennethum, and managed by Jack Lurie. A restaurant and dance-club, it engaged full orchestras and would hold mid-night dances running into the early morning hours.

In the next decade Harold E. and Loretta Heiter assumed ownership of the LaCasa. Harold and Loretta Heiter managed the La Casa until August 1957 when the local court upheld an LCB ruling to revoke the license of the La Casa, forcing it to close. In February 1947 the Bennethum Estate had sold most of Sunset holdings to Francis (Red) Ambrose who developed Sunset Park. In 1959 Francis Ambrose acquired the La Casa, which became the La Casa Amusement Center with pinball machines and pool tables. On July 10, 1973, a roof fire damaged the former La Casa.

On August 23, 1973, the uninsured La Casa Amusement Center was totally destroyed in a 10- hour fire. The site, built over the Inlet, was later filled and it is now a parking area for the Grotto.

V. Other Lake Bars


A. Rex Restaurant

Constantine (Gus) Condaras was a native of Greece. He was a popular figure in Wilkes-Barre as operator of a restaurant at the Greyhound Bus Terminal and as a restauranteur at the Lake.

Prior to 1938 Condaras managed the restaurant at Hanson's park. In 1938 he opened the Harvey's Lake Restaurant at the corner of Noxen Road and Lakeside Drive. Renovations quickly followed with two dining rooms seating 140-150 guests and a re-branding in 1939 as the Rex Restaurant. In 1940 Condaras also opened the Kingston Coffee Shop at 219 Wyoming Ave., Kingston.

Rex, c. 1950
FCP Collection

On May 25, 1951, a fully remodeled Rex was opened by Condaras as the Colony Restaurant. Gus Condaras died in 1961 and his widow, Anastasia, continued with the Colony for a time. In 1978 the Dew Drop Inn, operated by the Marino family, opened at the site.

In late 1980 the business became Faux's Inn, owned by William A. and Sandra Montrose Faux. In 1988 it was incorporated as Faux's Inn, Inc., by Allen and Betty Faux Kidd.

From 1993 to 1996 the building operated as TJ's Lakeside and then as TJ's Lakeside and Brothers' Lakeside Deli. It is currently (2021) an apartment building.


B. Anchor Inn

The Anchor Inn was located on Lakeside Drive between Old Sandy Bottom and Mayers Grove (now the PA Fish Commission access lot).

Originally, the building was the Yeager and Bauer general store. A summer operation, its owners were John M. Bauer (1903-1993) and Conrad W. Yeager (1900-1963). They purchased the Lake property in late 1925. Both were active in the life of the community. For a time in the early 1930s, Johnny Bauer and Conny Yeager were managers of the Laketon Five basketball team from Laketon High School. They were also auditors for the Lake Township School District.

Anchor Inn, September 1970
FCP Collection

Both Yeager and Bauer had life long careers with the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, which Bauer helped create. Yeager left the area in 1942, moving to West Chester.

In April 1942 the property was sold to Andrew C. and Eva E. Kizis, who converted the store into the Anchor Inn. Andrew Kizis was a Navy veteran of WWI who passed away in October 1965. His wife, Eva, continued operation of the Anchor Inn until her passing in early March 1971.

The property then became a private residence.


C. Edwards Restaurant

John E. Edwards originally had a stand at the Picnic Ground in the mid-1920s. About 1928 Edwards opened his restaurant at Pole 155 near the Picnic Ground, which he completely remodeled for the 1934 season.

Edwards Restaurant, May 1962
FCP Collection

On December 30, 1963, a fire of undetermined origin, swept through the restaurant-café on the first floor and destroyed the living quarters on the second floor. Edwards escaped from the building with minor burns.

Forty firemen from Harvey's Lake and Idetown fire departments deployed seven fire hoses to combat the fire, drawing water from the Lake after chopping access through the winter ice. Hose lines froze in the zero- degree weather, but the fire was out after a five -hour battle.

The property became a private home.


D. Kern's

H. Herman Kern was born in Wilkes-Barre in 1899, but spent most of his adult life dedicated to the Harvey's Lake community.

Kern was a founding member of the Harvey's Lake Lions Club and the Harvey's Lake Rod and Gun Club. He was also a founding member of the Daniel Roberts Ambulance and Fire Company at the Lake.

In 1936-1937 Kern operated "Herman Kern's University Club" at the foot of Oneonta Hill, where Saturday night farmer dances were held with Clarence Oberst, caller, Red Campbell, piano, and "Bub" Hoover, violinist.

In August 1941, Herman Kern opened Kern's bar at the Outlet which he operated until his retirement in 1965.

Kern's, June 1973
FCP Collection

Herman Kern was a noted baritone soloist and master of ceremonies, who contributed countless times to school, church, social, and lodge functions gifting his wonderful voice and good humor to audiences throughout the Lake region.

When Harvey's Lake Borough was created on January 1, 1968, Herman Kern was elected its first mayor.

In the early 1970s, Kern's bar became the Dog House Tavern, known for its 50-foot bar covered with 30,000 pennies sealed over in polyurethane. On August 31, 1981, the tavern owner had an altercation in the parking lot with a customer. The owner shot the customer, who died as a result. The owner was convicted of murder and received a life sentence. However, after serving more than 6.5 years in prison, the tavern owner was granted a new trial and pleaded guilty to third-degree murder. He was sentenced to time served and placed on five years' probation.

The bar was vacant for several years until it was remodeled and opened in May 2007 as the Lakeside Skillet.


E. The Hill Top Inn

James Ryan (O'Ryan) (1888-1969) was born in Arthurstown, Ireland.

By 1924 Ryan had opened Tut's Inn on Second Street, Warden Place, at the top of the hill. A New Year's Eve dinner on December 30, 1932, was $3.50 per couple, with radio entertainment. As with nearly all the Lake bars, Ryan had encounters with LCB enforcement.

In 1933 Ryan renamed his bar as Ryan's Tavern. In 1937 his license was revoked for violating the ban on Sunday sales. Ryan advertised his 16-room bar and dance hall for sale, as he claimed he planned to leave Pennsylvania, but there was no buyer.

In the Fall of 1938 Ryan's Tavern was leased out as Hurley's. A chicken or steak dinner was 35 cents.

The Hill Top Inn, May 1973
FCP Collection

In late May 1940 the site was reopened as Ryan's Hill Top Inn, with Katherine Ryan as the licensed proprietor. There was the occasional issue with the LCB and in 1954-1955 the inn was operated by Elzie J. Baker and Helen C. Baker as Baker's Hilltop Inn.

On August 25, 1956, the bar opened as Trainor's, owned by Mark T. and Louise Ney Trainor. Now it was a seasonal business from May to Labor Day. They had a 40-foot round bar and stage where cottagers would perform until 1961, when the bar was sold to Thomas and Nell Casey.

In June 1969 James Ryan died at Hialeah, Miami, Dade County, Florida.

Joseph and Stella Shurmaitis purchased the inn in 1947 and it closed in 1984.


F. May's Old Place/Rich and Charlotte's

One of the few remaining bars with a sustained history at the Lake is Rich and Charlotte's across the road from Sandy Beach.

In 1934 James and May A. Brennan opened Jimmy Brennan's at the Stone House at Sandy Beach. The Stone House was originally the home of Chalkey N. Booth which he built in 1923. Booth was chief of the private police force of the Lehigh Valley Coal Company.

May's Old Place
Rich and Charlotte's, August 1970
FCP Collection

Jimmy Brennan had gained local fame as a stage player with the Poli Stock Company in Wilkes-Barre and Scranton. He later operated a tire business on South Main Street, Wilkes-Barre. His wife, formerly May Gallagher, was from Parsons. When Brennan died in August 1944, May Brennan continued to operate the Beach Stone House through 1947.

On May 13, 1949, May Brennan opened a new bar restaurant at the present location of Rich and Charlotte's. At this time her bar was known as May Brennan's. By 1962 it was advertised as Brennan's Bar and Grill.

May A. Brennan retired in 1970, selling the bar outside the family to Chesmira Bar and Grill, Inc., which held its Grand Opening on July 3, 1971. May A. Brennan passed away in late March 1973.

Late in the decade, the Chesmira corporation operated the bar-restaurant as May's Old Place. In April 1981 Chesmira Bar and Grill, Inc., sold the bar to a group of investors led by R. Arnold Garinger.

In September 1984, the LCB license was transferred to Richard E. Williams II and Charlotte Williams, when it became Rich and Charlotte's. Rich is descended from one of the Lake's most well-regarded Lake families with a long history of service to the community.


All photographs in this article eligible under applicable copyright law are Copyright © 2021 F. Charles Petrillo.


Copyright May 2021 F. Charles Petrillo


Copyright 2006-2021 F. Charles Petrillo