Much has changed in the past 80 years, but one thing remains the same: Zorn’s of Bethpage still makes its delicious homemade food from scratch the same way it did upon its 1940 founding.
The seven wholesale poultry farms that the eatery’s founder Peter Zorn ran have long since been sold. But his granddaughter, Merrill S. Zorn, who now runs the restaurant, still ensures that her grandfather’s good old-fashioned hearty meals continue to be served up unaltered through the decades — including keeping the top secret chicken recipe in a safe.
“What separates us is we really really go the extra mile,” Zorn says. “We make small batches … You can taste the difference.”
While there are still some poultry farms on the East End, few local family-run restaurants have proven to have such staying power. To mark the 80th anniversary, patrons should stay tuned for 1940-related specials all year long.
Initially a takeout-only eatery that proved innovative at that time, Zorn’s of Bethpage later added seating and last year moved from its original location on Hempstead Turnpike to a new 8,000-square-foot building next door with an expanded dining area that includes al fresco seating.
Despite that major change, the constant — besides quality food — remains the Zorn family’s involvement. Merrill jokes that family itself is “the secret sauce.”
“There is always a Zorn in the kitchen making sure that the original recipes passed down from my grandparents are still prepared with the same quality and pride that they were 80 years ago,” she says. “Some of our traditions are looked upon as old-fashioned by today’s standards, but this is how we maintain our high quality and consistency.”
The legacy is on full display in the restaurant, which is adorned with family photos from over the generations.
“We really chose to do things the hard way,” Zorn says. “Our food is truly homemade. We don’t cut any corners. It was a long way to try to get here.”
Zorn’s of Bethpage is located at 4321 Hempstead Tpke. in Bethpage. It can be reached at 516-731-5500 or zornsofbethpage.com