Daffodils are bursting and chocolate Easter bunnies are proliferating like, well, rabbits, but for many locals, there is only one sure sign that spring has sprung -- opening day at The Modern Snack Bar.
The Modern Snack Bar, located on Route 25 in Aquebogue, opens Tuesday for its 62nd season, and owners Otto and John Wittmeier are thrilled to welcome back generations of diners to the eatery, owned by the same family for all 62 years.
When the doors of the Modern Snack Bar were first opened in 1950, the restaurant had only six stools and a hamburger cost 25 cents, said Otto Wittmeier, whose parents, John and Wanda, had a winning recipe for home-cooked food and a warm family atmosphere that kept customers coming back for over six decades.
Today, the restaurant seats 125, and a menu featuring mashed turnips, lemon meringue pie, roast duckling, sauerbraten, roast turkey, pork, and lobster salad is a beloved tradition for scores of diners, hundreds of whom place orders for the turnips and stand on long lines to purchase dessert from a wide selection of pies every Thanksgiving.
The Modern Snack Bar also offers a full selection of mixed drinks and beer choices and has 19 wines by the glass.
Both John and Otto Wittmeier agree that customers and staff, many of whom have been employed for years, have given The Modern Snack Bar unique flavor and heart. When the restaurant opens at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, both brothers will be happy to be back in business after an annual winter sojourn.
"We're excited to see people we haven't seen in three months," Otto Wittmeier said.
As rich as the wide array of delectable offerings on the menu, both brothers agree, are the stories of the men and women who've met at the Modern Snack Bar and fallen in love, who've shared milk shakes and romance on dates and later, carried on the tradition, celebrating milestones such as birthdays and anniversaries at the restaurant.
"Everyone has their own story of how the Modern Snack Bar fits in with their family history," said John Wittmeier. "They bring their kids, and their kids bring their kids back. It's a beautiful thing."
In the almost 24 years since the Wittmeier brothers took over the business, they have seen many former staffers who started out as dishwashers, worked their way up to waitresses and cooks, and have later gone on to careers in a wide array of professions.
"Every year, people come back," Otto Wittmeier said. "We look for them, the waitresses look for them -- you develop personal relationships."
The Modern Snack Bar is located at 628 Main Road in Aquebogue. For hours and further information, call 631-722-3655.