Dressed in a pale pink sweater set with perfectly coiffed hair, 91-year-old Modern Snack Bar matriarch Wanda Wittmeier presided over the restaurant’s 64th annual opening day with her sons John and Otto Tuesday.
As she always does, she sat at the corner table under the big mirror in the front room of the Aquebogue restaurant wrapping silverware in napkins for service, something she says she’ll continue to do every day she can.
“It feels great,” she said of opening day. “It’s exciting to see my friends and extended family.”
This past weekend, the Modern Snack Bar staff gathered for a weekend where they discusses what sets them apart from the North Fork’s many restaurants. A friendly and courteous staff, consistently good food and the cleanliness of the restaurant and staff, Otto said.
And customers do not want the popular eatery to change.
“Not even the color of the walls or the curtains,” Otto said with a smile.
The menu hasn’t changed much either, though it does now feature a reproduction of a painting of the restaurant by artist Mike Stanko, which was featured on the cover of Dan’s Papers last September. The prime rib special, available for both lunch and dinner from Tuesday to Friday, has been $16.95 for the past three years.
The restaurant has received many accolades over the years. Most recently from Saveur Magazine, which selected the iconic diner’s lemon meringue pie as No. 1 in its list of Top 100 recipes for 2013. In June 2013, they were named number six in the top ten in Travel & Leisure’s Americas Best Diners. And in the 2013-14 Zagat Guide it described the restaurant this way: “Good old fashioned dining room with good old fashioned food. Step back into the 1950s and enjoy the ride.”
As each customer filed out of the restaurant Tuesday afternoon, Otto asked, “Hi, how are you? Welcome back. How was your lunch?”
“Very good,” was the response each time.