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Posts Tagged ‘Raay-Nor’s Inn’

The sign in the window says:  “Closed for Renovations.”  The work will be more extensive than originally planned—the former Sun Ming restaurant building is slated to be demolished.

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As an example of Roadside Architecture, the building has served as a landmark along Jericho Turnpike, but it did not achieve enough significance to arise to the level of a “ historic landmark.”  Nonetheless, like any building that’s been around for over 80 years, it does have a history.

In 1923, Pat and Lena Maggi, a young couple from Brooklyn, moved to West Hills and opened a restaurant on Jericho Turnpike called Ye Old Homestead Chop House.  The exact location of Ye Old Homestead, which appears to have been in a converted house, has not been determined.  A 1924 newspaper article in the “Plainview” column refers to it as being “on the Jericho Turnpike near Huntington.”  So it may have been in Nassau County.

After seven and a half years, the Maggis built a new restaurant at the corner of Jericho Turnpike and Round Swamp Road.  The Chateau Maggi featured American and Italian food and promised “A real, bang-up good time.”  Maggi sold the restaurant in 1940.

By 1947, it was known as Pavillon Henri IV and featured a live orchestra.  A year later the owner and the orchestra were the same, but there was a new chef and a new name:  The Patio.  It can be assumed from the name Cliff Fearn originally gave to his version of the restaurant that he served French cuisine.  While the quality of the food is unknown to us, perhaps the bigger attraction was Mr. Fearn’s novel idea of a “television theatre.”  Mr. Fearn claimed to have the world’s largest television screen—eight feet by ten feet.   Weekly bulletins were mailed to patrons to advise them of the nightly schedule.  For example, in July of 1948, the schedule included the Democratic Convention on Thursday night, the CBS feature film on Friday, the Brooklyn handicap on Saturday, “Author Meets the Critics” on Sunday, baseball on Monday, the Texaco Start Theatre on Tuesday,  and the Kraft Television theatre on Wednesday.

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Apparently the novelty of the world’s largest television and the French cuisine were not popular enough to sustain The Patio.  Within just a few years, new ownership invited Huntingtonians to “Dine delightfully in a beautiful Spanish Inn;”  a Spanish inn that served southern fried chicken, sirloin steaks and sugar cured ham steaks.  The new incarnation was known as Raay-Nor’s Inn, the north shore companion to Baldwin’s Raay-Nor’s Cabin, which opened in 1946.  In Baldwin the country cuisine was matched by the building’s log cabin architecture, which was similar to Link’s Log Cabin in Centerport.

Soon the rotation of international cuisine turned to the east.  In February 1955, Peter Chinn, who served as a Marine Intelligence Officer in World War II, added pagoda details to the French chateau cum Spanish inn and converted the menu to Chinese fare.   Chinn had come to the United States with his family in 1930 as a teenager.   During the war he was stationed in China and remained there until the Communists gained control of the country in 1948.   Each of the two dozen employees of King Wah Restaurant had an ownership stake in the venture.

In 1966, the restaurant changed hands, but the menu remained Chinese.   The new owner Albert Chin renamed the place Sun Ming.  This last incarnation would prove to be the most long-lived—over 40 years—but it too closed a few years ago.  And soon Pat Maggi’s building like each of its incarnations will just be a memory.

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