Burt Bacharach was involved in every aspect if business when...

Burt Bacharach was involved in every aspect if business when he ran the East Norwich Inn and Rothmann's steakhouse. Credit: TNS

Burt Bacharach may have posed the musical question "Do You Know the Way to San Jose?," but there's no question that he knew his way around Long Island very well.

Bacharach, who died Wednesday at 94, owned and operated three successful businesses in Nassau County during the height of his prolific career as a composer from the late 1960s to the early 1980s — the East Norwich Inn and the adjacent steakhouse Rothmann's, and catering hall Burt Bacharach's Dover House in Westbury.

"You had celebrities like Bing Crosby and Bob Hope and Burt Bacharach who had land and built resorts and hotels," said Vince Cannino, assistant manager at the East Norwich Inn. "That's what they did back then to get their money to grow."

But for Bacharach, owning the inn was more than just an investment, said Cannino, who has worked there for 23 years. Though he never met Bacharach, the inn's previous owners shared many stories about him.

"Back then, It was like walking into your grandmother’s living room," said Cannino, who said Bacharach had his hands in every aspect of the inn's operation, including its decor and style. "It was very homey. The front desk was all handmade wood and built to Burt's specifications."

The business was also a family affair — Bacharach's then-wife, Angie Dickinson, could often be found behind the front desk when guests arrived.

The inn also became a mecca for many of Bacharach's friends, particularly those who played the Westbury Music Fair, a favorite performance spot for Bacharach as well. Debbie Reynolds, Perry Como, Liza Minnelli and Johnny Mathis were among the A-list celebrities who checked in.

In 1969, Bacharach also bought the long-gone Dover House, which he told Playbill he bought in order to hang out in its mod-looking cocktail lounge: "What I really ought to do is go there, drink with the people every night, play a tune or two on the piano. Go back to that ‘give the piano player a drink’ scene.”

In 1970, Bacharach and his business partners approached the Rothmann family about purchasing their self-named restaurant, which was within walking distance of the inn, according to the Rothmann's website. The eatery was renamed Burt Bacharach's, and Bacharach and Dickinson were frequently on hand to welcome diners.

Bacharach ultimately sold both the inn and the restaurant, which went back to being called Rothmann's, sometime in the 1980s.

"He was good to Oyster Bay and East Norwich," Cannino said, "and great to work for from what I was told."

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