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Long Island

Unique origins and oddities of Long Island eateries and pubs

A library-turned-cafe. A historic bank-turned-Asian-fusion kitchen and lounge. Long Island is home to all kinds of restaurants, from established eateries to local gems. But do you know their unusual origins and oddities from yesteryear? We've compiled these little-known facts. Want to see your favorite restaurant on the list? Email rachel.weiss@newsday.com.

Katie's of Smithtown

Katie's of Smithtown on Route 25A is mostly
Photo Credit: John Griffin

Katie's of Smithtown on Route 25A is mostly know for being one of Long Island's "most haunted" bars, according to the pub's website. The eatery has been featured on the television series "Paranormal State" and the owners have posted a series of videos documenting what appear to be glasses flying off of shelves and other unexplained occurrences.

Teller's

Teller's looks a lot like an old bank
Photo Credit: Doug Young

Teller's looks a lot like an old bank -- because it used to be one. The site was originally constructed in 1927 as the First National Bank of Islip before later becoming home to Chemical Bank. The Bohlsen Restaurant Group purchased the building in 1999 and established the steakhouse, but kept certain defining features like a wine cellar in an old bank vault.

Louie's Shore Restaurant

Louie's Grill & Liquors in Port Washington, seen
Photo Credit: Newsday / Jim Peppler

Louie's Grill & Liquors in Port Washington, seen here in 1976 when it was Louie's Shore Restaurant, originated as a floating eatery and saloon called the "Kare Killer," after being converted from an old barge in 1905.

The restaurant has gone through several name changes
Photo Credit: Daniel Brennan

The restaurant has gone through several name changes over the years, including Louie's Shore and Louie's Oyster Bar & Grill.

Post Office Cafe

Nearly 40 years ago, a post office in
Photo Credit: Timothy Fadek

Nearly 40 years ago, a post office in Babylon was transformed into a cafe filled with quirky antique decor. The restaurant, pictured here in 2009, is owned by the Lessings family, which also operates Library Cafe in Farmingdale. It retains many of the elements of its forebear, particularly its facade, which features Grecian columns and golden statues of bald eagles.

The Good Steer

The Good Steer has been serving customers in
Photo Credit: Ed Betz

The Good Steer has been serving customers in Lake Grove since February 1957, and continues to be owned and operated by the McCarroll family. According to the restaurant's website, The Good Steer started as an "upscale hamburger stand" fashioned with roll-down garage doors and was popular among local celebrities who were traveling to the Hamptons.

The Good Steer was renovated in 1965 as a sit-down restaurant with an emphasis on promoting a cozy country home atmosphere. It continues to be a popular stop along Middle Country Road, especially for visitors to the nearby Smith Haven Mall.

The 1770 House Restaurant & Inn

The 1770 House restaurant in East Hampton, seen
Photo Credit: East Hampton Historical Society

The 1770 House restaurant in East Hampton, seen here in this photo from the 1960s, began as the home of William Fithian in 1663, but was converted to an inn in 1770, according to the eatery's website. The 1770 House still has most of the original features it was built with more than 250 years ago, including an antique fireplace and wooden staircase.

The 1770 House restaurant in East Hampton, as
Photo Credit: Gordon M. Grant

The 1770 House restaurant in East Hampton, as seen in 2013.

Tara Inn

Tara Inn, located in Port Jefferson, was opened
Photo Credit: John Griffin

Tara Inn, located in Port Jefferson, was opened by local entrepreneur Joe Higgins in 1977 and has been family-run ever since. The family estimates the building to be around 100 years old and said there was a four lane bowling alley in the basement at one point. Several employees have even claimed to have seen the ghost of a woman walk across the basement kitchen.

Higgins named the pub after one of his daughters, who is a Port Jefferson village justice. The Irish pub is known for its old-fashioned menu that includes a $2 quarter-pounder burger and $10 lobster.

Gunther's Tap Room

Gunther's Tap Room in Northport has a long
Photo Credit: Bruce Gilbert

Gunther's Tap Room in Northport has a long history in the town dating back to the prohibition era, when it housed a speakeasy in the basement. Beatnick author Jack Kerouac was also known to frequent the bar in the '50's and '60s.

A fire broke out in Gunther's in May 2017, destroying the interior and damaging several apartments in the building. However, the current owners have pledged to rebuild the bar and restore as many features as possible, including the original bartop and taps.

Hendrick's Tavern

George Washington toured Long Island in 1790 and
Photo Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

George Washington toured Long Island in 1790 and a handful of the spots where he slept and ate are still around today. The first president stopped for a meal to thank those who had helped him during the Revolutionary War at what is now known as Hendrick's Tavern in Roslyn.

Library Cafe

As its name suggests, the building that currently
Photo Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

As its name suggests, the building that currently serves as Library Cafe in Farmingdale originated as one of the village's two public library buildings until a new branch was opened on Merritts Road in 1994. The Lessings family purchased the building and opened a restaurant in 2000, and continues to serve an eclectic menu of American fare and literature-themed cocktails.

Maine Maid Inn/One North

The Maine Maid Inn, seen here in this
Photo Credit: Maine Maid Inn

The Maine Maid Inn, seen here in this photo from the 1850s, began life as a colonial farmhouse in 1789 and was owned by the first-ever Long Island Rail Road president, Valentine Hicks. Located in Jericho, the house was a stop on the Underground Railroad where former slaves were hidden during their journey to freedom.

The former Maine Maid Inn was turned into
Photo Credit: Daniel Brennan

The former Maine Maid Inn was turned into One North, a Mediterranean style eatery in Jericho, in 2017. The restaurant is currently owned by restauranteur Anthony Scotto.

Milleridge Inn

Although the Milleridge Inn is currently a restaurant,
Photo Credit: Jericho Public Library Archives

Although the Milleridge Inn is currently a restaurant, it was originally the home of Elias Hicks and Jemima Seaman, who began serving travelers to Jericho in 1783. According to the restaurant's website, the Hicks family allowed travelers to stay overnight, free of charge.

The Milleridge Inn, seen here in 2015, continues
Photo Credit: Barry Sloan

The Milleridge Inn, seen here in 2015, continues to serve as a restaurant and event space for weddings, bar mitzvahs and more.

Roe Tavern

Roe Tavern, seen here in 1982, is famous
Photo Credit: Newsday / Bob Luckey

Roe Tavern, seen here in 1982, is famous on Long Island due to its connection to one of America's founding fathers. George Washington documented spending the night at the house of "Capt. Roe, which is tolerably decent with obliging people in it" during his visit to Long Island in April 1790, following the end of the Revolutionary War.

Roe was a tavern owner who also worked as a member of the famed Culper spy network, which supplied Washington with information about the British army during the American war for independence, according to Beverly Tyler, historian for the Three Village Historical Society. Although the home was moved in 1936, a historical marker for Roe Tavern stands at the intersection of 25A and Bayview Avenue in East Setauket.

Monsoon Asian Kitchen & Lounge

Monsoon Asian kitchen and lounge is located in
Photo Credit: Doug Young

Monsoon Asian kitchen and lounge is located in the old Bank of Babylon building on Deer Park Avenue in Babylon. The eatery stands at two stories high and can fit 200 diners within its 9,500-square-foot space. Long Island business owners/brothers Michael and Kurt Bohlsen took over and renovated the space, which officially opened in 2012. Monsoon boasts four types of cuisine: Chinese, Japanese, Thai and Vietnamese.

Finnegan's Restaurant and Tap Room

Finnegan's Restaurant & Tap Room, with its tin
Photo Credit: Finnegan's

Finnegan's Restaurant & Tap Room, with its tin ceiling and walls, has been a Huntington institution for more than 100 years. It was established in 1912 by Andrew Finnegan and has cycled through five owners since. For the past 16 years, it has been owned by the Lessings family.

During the prohibition era, the bar was a speak-easy, according to Tommy Forte, general manager of Finnegan's. There was a cigars/tobacco room, and alcohol was made in-house and served in tea cups. A secret code was required for entry. It was also a popular meeting spot for local dignitaries such as governors, mayors and town officials.

Finnegan's Restaurant and Taproom, seen here in 2012,
Photo Credit: Barry Sloan

Finnegan's Restaurant and Taproom, seen here in 2012, is still a popular gathering spot for many locals, and has been nicknamed "the tears of Huntington."

The Jon Thomas Inne

The Jon Thomas Inne in Bay Shore was
Photo Credit: Rachel Weiss

The Jon Thomas Inne in Bay Shore was originally purchased in 1925 by ballroom dancing team Arthur and Josephine Miller, who used it as a summer resort, according to the restaurant's website. The Millers later converted the attic into sleeping quarters for construction workers and leased the house to Harry and Elsie Seifert in 1938, after which the sun porch was converted into a bar.

After exchanging hands several more times, John Hickey and Thomas Lally purchased the building in 1977 and renamed it The Jon Thomas Inne. Hickey and Lally retired in 2013 and sold the restaurant to the current owners later that year.

Hildebrandt's Restaurant

Hildebrandt's Restaurant in Williston Park opened in the
Photo Credit: Barry Sloan

Hildebrandt's Restaurant in Williston Park opened in the 1920s as an ice cream parlor and candy shop and was named after the original owner, Henry Hildebrandt. Over the years, it has morphed into a '50s-style luncheonette. The restaurant has been bought and sold to several different families throughout the years, and is currently owned by the Acosta family.

Valencia Tavern

The Valencia Tavern in Huntington was built as
Photo Credit: Barry Sloan

The Valencia Tavern in Huntington was built as a residence in 1933 by Benjamin Juliano, but was rezoned as a business later that year so Juliano could serve food from his home. Recent plans to demolish the restaurant were stalled in January after the town planning and environmental department sent a letter of denial to the developer.

Babylon Carriage House

Even though the Babylon Carriage House restaurant was
Photo Credit: Newsday / Jim Peppler

Even though the Babylon Carriage House restaurant was first established in 2003, the building itself is an actual carriage house dating back to just after the Civil War, according to the eatery's website.

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