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Restaurants and Entertainment

Beginning in the 1920s a number of dining and entertainment establishments appeared in the Village. One of the first was the Great Neck Inn in the Robertson Block. Singers from New York City came to Great Neck, while patrons drank illegal alcohol during prohibition. Other establishments included the Wychwood Garden Tea Room, which was torn down when the Wychwood Apartments were constructed.

Great Neck was well known for its lively theatre scene. The Great Neck Playhouse, now the home of the Playhouse Condominiums, was considered a good “try-out” theatre, hosting such plays as “The Straight Shooter” and performers such as Eddie Cantor, the Marx Brothers and Irving Berlin. The Squire Theater, located at 113-117 Middle Neck Road, is a handsome English Tudor Revival building that closely resembles the structure directly opposite. The theatre boasted a “trans-lux” newsreel, seating 850 people. Like other historic movie theatres on Long Island, it has been divided inside in order to offer patrons more choices.

In addition to its theaters Great Neck Plaza has several historic restaurants that have been converted to other uses or retain their original purpose. The oldest continuous operating diner is Fredericks, part of the Bond Street historic district, which was designated a cultural landmark. This stream moderne structure constructed c. 1950 originally resembled 10 Grace Avenue, but was modified in the 1990s. The Village landmark is well known among foodies for its “egg-creams” and hamburgers.

For many years 43 South Middle Neck Road was home to Benkhart’s Bakery, in a handsome Colonial Revival structure built c. 1926. It was once commonplace in many villages to have a German bakery that were later joined by other immigrant groups with traditional culinary preferences. Next to the Squire Theatre was the Squire Deli, and just down the street was Kriegel’s Ice Cream Parlor, which no longer exist.

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