The Good Steer restaurant in Lake Grove is closing permanently after 65 years


The Good Steer, an iconic Long Island restaurant, closed on Saturday after 65 years of operation in Lake Grove. The restaurant broke the news on Facebook Sunday morning that Saturday July 9 was its last day of operation.

“We made this decision about three weeks ago,” said owner Robert McCarroll, who noted he was devastated by the loss of his family business, the one his grandfather started in 1957. three weeks .”

McCarroll’s grandfather (also named Robert) opened The Good Steer on property he owned in the 1950s after running a restaurant in Smithtown for a brief period. It was a place where people gathered with their friends and family, much like the places you see portrayed in movies or on TV about back in the day.

“It was very much like Arnold in ‘Happy Days,'” he said, even until waitresses on roller skates served food for a while.

What started as a seasonal restaurant has grown into a year-round establishment.

“As the region grew, we grew,” McCarroll said.

After his grandfather died in 1965, McCarroll’s father (a second Robert) took over the restaurant at age 23, after graduating from college. Then, in the mid-1980s, after learning the ropes of the industry working at other restaurants, McCarroll started running the place.

His three children also worked at the restaurant.

The shutdown was not an easy decision for McCarroll, but economic pressure from inflation forced his hand. He cited both rising prices with “costs exploding” and a 60% drop in customers since March.

“It happened very, very quickly,” he said. “We always take a hit during the summer, but nothing like that. It was brutal. People just don’t want to go to the local restaurant for a burger when it costs $125 to fill up.

After 65 years in the community, most people can’t remember a time when there wasn’t a The Good Steer sign lighting up Middle Country Road. With its folk charm and retro look, the restaurant gave people a sense of nostalgia in difficult times.

“We value the community,” McCarroll said. “When things are very bad in the country, we do well because we have been such a comfort to people over the years.”

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the restaurant survived by offering takeout.

“And our busiest year was the year after 9/11,” McCarroll said. “People wanted to go places where they felt safe.”

McCarroll told the story of a family who came to the restaurant on a recent weekend. It was a celebration of life for the family matriarch.

“She said, ‘I don’t want a wake or a funeral. I just want everyone to have dinner at The Good Steer,” he said.

The iconic name and logo will go dark, as McCarroll takes a break from the restoration and plans his next steps.

The franchise of the name is not on the table. The family never thought of franchising or expanding The Good Steer.

“A big part of what makes The Good Steer, The Good Steer, is that one of us is still there,” he said.

That family atmosphere, that customer service, and that constant effort to meet any reasonable request is something you can’t emulate according to McCarroll.

“We never say we can’t do something for a client,” he said.

McCarroll owns the property and has opportunities he’s exploiting, but nothing has been finalized.

“We think about different things depending on what the village will let us do with it,” he said.

For now, it preserves The Good Steer brand. And while he doesn’t think The Good Steer will return in its current incarnation, there could be a future for the beloved restaurant.

“But in a much smaller way,” he said. “Maybe quick service.”

McCarroll said the burgers were by far the most popular item on the menu. The Bacon Cheese Supreme was their biggest seller. And their onion rings.

“Sometimes we were moving 2,500 to 3,000 pounds of onions a week,” he said.

Phones kept ringing Sunday morning after the news broke on The Good Steer Facebook page with people wanting to know what was going on. The message McCarroll most wanted to convey was his gratitude for all the years the community has supported his family’s restaurant. He was also audibly shaken talking about The Good Steer, his family heritage and the work he has ahead of him.

“It’s going to take me a while to put this to bed,” he said. “It’s been a one man show for years.”

His Facebook post today read:

Dear good friends,

As they say, all good things come to an end. Saturday July 9 will be the last night of service for The Good Steer. We have truly enjoyed serving you over the past 7 decades, but it is time for us to end this story. We will all miss you. We will miss sharing the occasions, celebrations and milestones in your life and those of your family and friends that you have chosen to mark with a visit and a meal at The Good Steer. Our guests are more than just customers, they are part of our family and we appreciate that very much.

We hope you’ll think of us and smile at the “good” times you’ve had here.

… and who knows… keep an eye out. We could be back one day!

With much gratitude, appreciation and love,

Bob, Linda, Bob jr. and the GHappy Steer family.


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