They all dined at Chalet Suzanne, a Lake Wales restaurant and inn that served up lavish french cuisine on one woman’s eclectic china in a bubblegum pink building from 1931-2014.
Ladies sunbathing outside Chalet Suzanne, circa 1967 | Photo by Florida Memory
Bertha Hinshaw opened Chalet Suzanne in the wake of her husband Carl’s passing in 1931 + it quickly became a quintessential landmark of Lake Wales.A newly widowed mother of two young children, Bertha resolved to support her family by capitalizing on her hobby of gourmet cooking.
After opening the restaurant from her home, she routinely convinced guests to stay for their vacations + honeymoons, resulting in some of the most popular accommodations in central Florida.
Sitting on 100 acres, Chalet Suzanne was not only a restaurant but also a successful inn, soup cannery, vineyard, public airport + runway (convenient for its many high rolling patrons), and shooting range.
In 1943, the chalet wasnearly ravaged by a kitchen fire but was rebuilt by Bertha’s son, Carl Jr., who used salvaged stable wood and materials from other buildings on the property. This remodel resulted in a quirky layout with 14 different levels.
Some might say that Chalet Suzanne’s finest hour came in 1971, when astronaut + Chalet Suzanne patron James Irwin, requested some of the chalet’s “Soup Romaine” be sent with him to the moon on Apollo 15.
When faced with the changing times and a booming housing market, the restaurant’s signature clientele + exclusive atmosphere dwindled. In 2014, Carl Jr.’s son and daughter-in-law, Eric and Dee Hinshaw, announced that Chalet Suzanne would be closing its doors + encouraged regular customers to enjoy their favorite dishes while they still could.
Today, the Hinshaws retain most of the property with the exception of some parcels that were sold at auction in 2014.
Now, the former chalet is known as Refuge on the Ridge,a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center serving the men in the community of Lake Wales and beyond. To locals, Chalet Suzanne is still remembered as a beloved staple of the Polk County community.
Civic ○ Foodservice and manufacturing businesses in Lakeland canapply for a grant of up to $10,000 for infrastructure renovation. Eligible improvements include waste management, electric or water utilities + engineering services on a first-come, first-served basis. Click here for more details.
Announced ○Juneteenth — A request by Lakeland resident Doris Moore Bailey, regional director of Juneteenth observances, led to City Commissioners drafting the resolution to recognize June 19 as an annual day to commemorate the end of slavery.The resolution has been unanimously approved.(LkldNow)
Watch ○Here’s a burning question — are you one of the many Floridians who saw the fireball blaze across the sky on the night of April 12? Locals caught the unusual sighting on their home security cameras. If you didn’t catch it yourself, you can watch it here. ☄️
TodayIs ○ National Pecan Day. From sweet potato-pecan pie to pecan-crusted tilapia, here are some easy recipes you can try at home. Ⓟ
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DealOfTheDay ○Call (863) 815-6195 to receive a sweet snack any time you tour Lake Gibson Village in the month of April + receive $500 off your first month’s rent if you choose to move in. Offer expires April 30.Ⓟ
The sign was given new life back in February 2020, but these views never get old. For more night-time photo-ops around Lakeland, click here.
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TryThis ○ Wine Down Wednesdays| Wed., April 14 | 8 p.m.-2 a.m. | MINT Hookah Lounge, 4901 US Hwy. 98 N. | Free | To reserve your spot, be sure to RSVP. ○ Buzz’d Spelling Bee| Wed., April 14 | 7:45-10 p.m. | Galaxy Bar Lakeland, 5153 US Hwy. 98 N. | Free | For every round you pass, you get one shot or drink, the winner gets a gift card + bragging rights. ○ Open Mic Night| Wed., April 14 | 8:30 p.m. | The Pink Piano, 1015 S. Florida Ave. | Free | Hosted by Roses from Bones.
PlanAhead ○ The 863 Art Fest| Sat., April 17 | 10 a.m.-4 p.m. | Central Park Winter Haven, 41 5th St. N.W. | Free | Features fine arts + crafts, live music, food trucks + free parking.
Disclaimer: It is up to readers’ discretion to determine whether they feel comfortable participating in any mentioned events based on COVID-19 protocols and precautions. If you have questions, please contact the event’s organizers directly.
Hey Lakeland, Rilee here. 👋This was my first solo flight with the newsletter. I’m looking forward to many mornings in your inbox. In the meantime, I’d love to hear how I did covering Chalet Suzanne’s history. Drop me a line.
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