Bonwit Inn keywords = Bonwit Inn restaurant Commack Harned Tsunis Long Island Motor Parkway Vanderbilt toll road limited access highway automotive auto car car history Hiney Heine Deer Head Tavern

Updated:   31 Jan 2016; 21:05 ET
[Page created 1999; converted 31 Jan 2016
    original AT&T Worldnet Website begun 30 May 1996.]

URL:  http://sbiii.com/bonwitin.html
[was at "home.att.net/~Berliner-Ultrasonics/bonwitin.html"]

S. Berliner, III
Consultant in Ultrasonic Processing
"changing materials with high-intensity sound"

[consultation is on a fee basis]

Technical and Historical Writer, Oral Historian
Popularizer of Science and Technology
Rail, Auto, Air, Ordnance, and Model Enthusiast
Light-weight Linguist, Lay Minister, and Putative Philosopher



note - The vast bulk of my massive Web presence (over 485 pages) had been hosted by AT&T's WorldNet service since 30 May 1996; they dropped WorldNet effective 31 Mar 2010 and I have been scrambling to transfer everything.  Everything's saved but all the links have to be changed, mostly by hand.  See my sbiii.com Transfer Page for any updates on this tedious process.


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Bonwit Inn Courtesy Page

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[Page hosted by S. Berliner, III
Consultant in Ultrasonic Processing
and Convenor of the former Motor Parkway Panel]






THE BONWIT INN

SETTING A NEW DINING TRADITION

Commack Road & Vanderbilt Parkway
Commack, New York 11725
Tel.:  631-499-2068
FAX:  631-499-2184

[DISCLAIMER! - This is an historical page; NOT a business page for the Bonwit Inn;
please contact them directly for reservations or information.

As of restoration of this page on 31 Jan 2016, this page will no longer be updated.]

The Bonwit Inn now has its own web site http://www.thebonwitinn.com/ (as of 25 May 2008).

Fine dining in an old building in an historic area with a cozy bar, sunny dining rooms,
and catering facilities and dining rooms on the second floor for affairs of all kinds
(weddings, birthdays, reunions, conferences, etc.).

Specializing in Graeco-Roman and Continental cuisine.

Bonwit Inn Map

Convenient to Northern State Parkway (Exit 43), Sagtikos State Parkway and
Sunken Meadow State Parkway (Exit SM1), and the Long Island Expressway (Exit 52).

Here are views of the restaurant and a small portion of the main dining room, the bar and the porch room, and one of the catering rooms on the second floor:

Bonwit Inn view NE   Bonwit Inn main DR

Bonwit Inn bar   Bonwit Inn porch DR

Bonwit Inn 2nd floor catering room
(All photos taken 06 Nov 99 by and © 1999 S. Berliner, III - all rights reserved)
[Thumbnail images; click on pictures for large images.]


HISTORY OF THE RESTAURANT AND PARKWAY

The Long Island Motor Parkway (LIMP) - erroneously also known as the Vanderbilt Motor Parkway, was the brainchild of William K(issam). Vanderbilt, Jr..  It ran from the Kissena Corridor in Queens County, convenient to the New York (Manhattan) ferries and the Queensborough (59th Street) Bridge, which had opened in 1909, and to Vanderbilt's Lake Success home, "Deepdale", near Great Neck, out along the Island, south of Vanderbilt's other estate in Centerport, the Eagle's Nest (today's Vanderbilt Museum), to Lake Ronkonkoma, a distance of some 48 miles.

Construction of the Parkway was started on 06 June 1907, with the stretch from the Queens line (Lakeville Road) through Bethpage opened in 1908, and opened virtually its full length by 1911, being extended westward to Horace Harding Boulevard (today's LIE) in 1926; it closed on Easter Sunday, 1938, a victim of the adjacent toll-free Northern State Parkway.

A spur was built northwards to Jericho Turnpike in Commack, giving more convenient access to Eagle's Nest; it still exists today as Harned Road, just east of the Bonwit Inn on the east side of the Sagtikos Parkway.  It was the longest spur road built for the Long Island Motor Parkway and there was a Toll Lodge at that intersection, as well.  While the Bonwit Inn might be rumored to include in its structure that former Toll Lodge, it isn't true; the site of the lodge is at the southwest corner of the building, where the "well" stands today.

What DOES stand today is the original chimney of the earlier Deer Head/Heinie's Tavern, which shows above the roof line at the far left (west) of the front of today's building (see the left-hand picture, below):

Here is the "well", looking first north-northeast and then southeast:

Bonwit Inn 'Well' view NNE   Bonwit Inn 'Well' view SE
(Both photos taken 06 Nov 99 by and © 1999 S. Berliner, III - all rights reserved)
[Thumbnail images; click on pictures for large images.]

Genial hosts, Charlie and Jimmy Tsunis, bought the property in 1971 and converted a German Restaurant [Heinie's (or Heine's)] into what has gradually developed into today's elegant restaurant (long before, the place was called "The Old Tavern" and the "Deer Head Tavern").

I deeply regret the passing of both James (Jimmy) G. Tsunis, real estate broker and co-owner of the Bonwit, on Saturday, 24 November 2001, at his home in Commack at age 69, and jovial on-premises host Charles (Charlie) J. Tsunis on Saturday, 04 August 2001, at his home in Dix Hills at age 75; they are both going to be missed.


Some old photos of the Deer Head and Heinie's Taverns and of the Bonwit Inn appear on Robert Saal's (dead link) Bonwit Inn and the Motor Parkway page, as part of a more comprehensive (dead link) Commack history.  Through the great courtesy of Mr. Saal, here they are, with text edited from his site:

Commack resident "Henry Shea's Aunt Sadie is caught hanging around on the corner of Motor Parkway with two friends from Brooklyn in 1912" (looking SE).  "The signpost is long gone but the information is still the same"; the second view appears to be fairly recent (looking W?):

-> Lake Ronkonkoma 10 mi <- Great Neck 30 mi <- New York 44 mi <- Brooklyn 44 mi
Commack Rd sign to SE Commack Rd & LIMP to W?

"Sometime during the 1930's the Toll House was torn down and the Deer Head Tavern was built in its place.  The tavern was a one large open room with a fireplace at each end and a bar the length of the back wall.  The family who kept the tavern lived upstairs.  Later the tavern was taken over and became Hiney's {sic}.  The chimney of the old tavern can still be seen on the top of the roof to the left":

Deer Head Bonwit
(Four photos from R. Saal's site - all rights reserved)
[images restored 15 Jun 05]

Compare these old Deer Head and early Bonwit photos with the current ones, above.  Notice especially that old chimney.

Just for further comparison, here are 2009 street views from Google Maps of the restaurant looking north and the LIMP RoW looking west from the intersection:   added (31 Jan 2016)

BonwitN

BonwitW

The chimney has been lowered and capped


An e-mail on 23 May 2008 revealed that the sender had found an old token, about the size of a quarter, worth 10 cents at Heinie's Place, while metal detecting in River Rouge, Michigan (10 miles south of Detroit).  The finder wondered if it is from the old tavern in Commack (now the Bonwit Inn), also noted under "Spurs" on my Long Island Motor Parkway Suffolk County page 3.  I'm posting it there and on my Long Island page 3 and on this Bonwit page in hopes that someone might know; "Heinie" was a WWI name for Germans and there may well have been hundreds of "Heinie's Places" all across the country, especially in German neighborhoods. (25 May 2008)

Heinie's Place Token Obverse   Heinie's Place Token Reverse
(Both photos taken 23 May 2008 by finder - all rights reserved)


The Webmaster's site has a wealth of information about the Long Island Motor Parkway ,
with links to related sites, and also a page on the Motor Parkway Panel, dedicated to
"Keeping the Long Island Motor Parkway alive in Situ and in Minds and Museums"
(now subsumed into the Long Island Motor Parkway Preservation Society).


[DISCLAIMER! - This is an historical page; NOT a business page for the Bonwit;
please contact them directly for reservations or information.

As of restoration of this page on 31 Jan 2016, this page will no longer be updated]


This page hosted by S. Berliner, III
Consultant in Ultrasonic Processing
"changing materials with high-intensity sound"
Technical and Historical Writer, Oral Historian
Popularizer of Science and Technology
Rail, Auto, Air, Ordnance, and Model Enthusiast
Light-weight Linguist, Lay Minister, and Putative Philosopher


LEGACY

  What happens to all this when I DIE or (heaven forfend!) lose interest?  See LEGACY.

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