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Sunday, July 4, 2010

Didja Know? The Smoke Rise Inn

Didja Know?
Time for another article from Cornie Hubner's Didja Know?? Series. This one is about the Smoke Rise Inn. Consider it an introduction for a marvelous present day historic series about the Inn titled "If Walls Could Talk... The Smoke Rise Village Inn" that I will share with you in upcoming posts....

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The Smoke Rise Inn

Originally published 11/15/1985

The early Smoke Rise brochures pictured a beautiful Club House and Inn, to be built on the Lake Shore near the beach.  Until its completion, space for Club activities would be available in the Barn Complex.  The renovated Stable, still showing the wall indentations for stalls (now the reception and cloak rooms), became the Dining Room, with a capacity of forty.  The present rear cocktail lounge was the slaughter house.  It had a huge fireplace (since remodeled) used to singe the carcasses of the farm-raised meats and became a cozy bar seating ten.  Both were unique.

The Inn opened in 1948 for the then twenty-five residents.  A French couple, previously employed at the Washington French Legation, in attractive uniforms provided a note of elegance that disguised the ancient kitchen and equipment that thwarted their culinary skills.  The setting was ideal for the salesman, who after a tour in his new Rolls Royce, further impressed his prospects with a demonstration of what they could enjoy.  Unfortunately, the $.50 sandwiches and $2.00 dinners, impeccably served, ceased when Mr. Talbot decided he could no longer subsidize the operation.

Smoke Rise Brochure: The Inn
After the French couple, a Housekeeper/Cook took over under the supervision of one of the sales staff. Several bedrooms were furnished on the second floor.  These, serviced by one Victorian bathroom, accommodated the members who wanted to view their home's construction.  Meals were prepared for the guests and a diminishing number of customers.

As membership increased at the rate of twenty to twenty-five families yearly, more space was needed for special events and Club activities.  A roof was built over the patio (now the bar) to connect with the low ceiling Carriage House.  Called the White Room, it was used for dances, social and club meetings and extending to the end of the building, it was the largest room available.  The Bull Pen, now the Cauldron Room, retained its original name and was used as a snack bar.  Building, remodeling and maintenance costs were reported to run up to $65,000 yearly.

The Early Smoke Rise Inn
In 1956, John Talbot opened the Inn with Chef Frank Milanasi from Col. Bradleys Beach Club of Palm Beach.  He hoped to start a trend for fine food.  Handicapped by the kitchen and a limited clientele, Frank became the first of a series of chefs like Tobin of the Chambord, one of the Sardi's, and a succession that failed to make it pay.

Finally, after almost seven years of inactivity, the Club faced a crisis - its liquor license would be lost unless business was resumed.  The purchase of the Inn Complex by the Club followed.  Plans for the additions, equipment and renovations were approved and all work was completed in 1981.

Cornie HubnerNo longer restricted by impossible conditions, and Seven Hundred families to serve, the grand opening was held in November, 1981.  Unfortunately, this ended in financial difficulties after four months.  In October of 1982 an agreement was reached with an experienced local couple to resume operations on a restricted basis. To a menu featuring a wide range of sandwiches, they added dinners, nicely served.  This was a menu that after nearly three years provided the transition to the current operation managed by "Beverly." [Note: Beverly Myers retired in 2009.]

Increased patronage enjoying the extended menu and occasional Brunch under the critical eye of Chef "Ronnie", has made the operation increasingly more profitable.  The outstanding facilities for Weddings, Parties, Conventions, etc., patronized by members and friends had added income that has reduced operating costs for the Club.

Improvements, as needed, will keep the facility one YOU can be proud to entertain in.  Think - it all took nearly 35 years.

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Thank you, Christine Bell, for sharing a photo of Cornie Hubner.  For links to previous posts in the Cornie Hubner Didja Know? series, click on this link.

Please do stay tuned for "If Walls Could Talk... The Smoke Rise Village Inn" from Tom Kline.









Images of the Inn, courtesy of Tom Kline.
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