The Good Steer, a popular Lake Grove restaurant known for its burgers, barbecue, and onion rings since 1957, closed its doors for good on Saturday.
The restaurant, owned and operated by the McCarroll family, was a fixture on Middle Country Road with its neon sign featuring an orientation.
“As they say, all good things must come to an end,” read a post on the restaurant’s Facebook page, announcing the restaurant’s closure on Saturday night.
“We have really enjoyed serving you for the past seven decades,” the post states, “but it is time for us to end this story.”
He also hinted at a possible comeback in some form, saying, “Who knows… Watch out. We might come back someday!”
Owner Robert McCarroll said it was “not an easy decision” but the family decided to close the restaurant because they couldn’t keep up with the rising costs.
“A lot of our ingredients and raw materials have doubled in price,” said McCarroll, whose grandfather, also named Robert, opened the restaurant in 1957. He also noted annual property taxes of $80,000 and electric bills that can exceed $2,000 a week.
“It just gets to the point where you can’t raise prices anymore to cover the costs. If it costs you $125 to fill up your car, you run out of money to buy a cheeseburger pretty quickly.”
McCarroll, 58, said his grandparents, Robert B. and Elizabeth, they started having dinner in Smithtown before the opening of The Good Steer.
“It was originally like a car, we had the waitresses ice skating for a very short time,” he said.
In its early days, celebrities who came in and out of the Hamptons would stop by the restaurant, which started out as an “upscale hamburger kiosk,” according to The Good Steer website. Celebrities who frequent her include AJ Marshall, the Gabor sisters, and Ava Gardner.
In 1965, his grandfather passed away leaving his father, also named Robert, to take over. He renovated the restaurant, expanded the kitchen and gave the dining area a rustic touch.
“My father developed the company into what it is today,” McCarroll said.
A 2007 Newsday Restaurant review of The Good Steer described their signature burger as “juicy and good” as well as “the famous onion rings—a mountain of thin, crisp slices—that were impossible to stop.”
For decades, McCarroll said, the restaurant has been a friendly, relaxed place to dine. He pointed out that the restaurant witnessed its most active operations in 2002, after the terrorist attacks of September 11th.
“We found that people stay longer,” McCarroll said. “It made us feel good that people come here for a burger…giving them comfort during a really uncomfortable time.”
On Sunday, more than 3,000 people commented on The Good Steer’s Facebook post with appreciation for the staff and food. Some joint photos taken in the restaurant over the years.
Charlie Burns and her fiancé Paul Mangini of Farmingville stopped by the restaurant on Sunday afternoon, surprised by the news.
“We were so shocked we didn’t get a chance to go back again,” said Burns, 32. “We are really upset. It is a tradition.”
Every Halloween for 10 years, the couple would stop by the restaurant and order Cheese Dream, a hamburger with “Dream” cheese sauce, bacon strips, Idaho potatoes, and onion rings.
“Whatever happens, we will come here,” she said. “This was our special place.”
McCarroll said he’s not sure what the future holds for The Good Steer and the property it sits on, which is owned by the family.
“We’ve been looking at the idea of redeveloping one building and making it a smaller version of a casual, quick-service restaurant,” he said. “We’ll see what happens. It’s going to take a while to put this to bed. It’s been a one-man show for a while so I can use a break.”
with James Carbone