Chef’s Inn – Sinking Spring | Monday Mystery

UPDATE: This building sat on the lot that the now abandoned bank building sits on next to McDonalds. In the 40s/50s it changed names to the “Blue Lantern Inn” and finally the “Piccadilly Restaurant“. It was demolished to make way for the construction of the People’s Trust City Bank in 1961.

Chefs Inn Sinking Spring

Does anyone remember this establishment called Chef’s Inn located at 402 Penn Ave in Sinking Spring? Addresses along 422 have changed since this advertisement from the 1940s, so if you remember where the above rendered building stood drop that info in the comments.

According to the found postcard below, the establishment also boasted “the only natural all-green miniature golf course in Berks Co.”

ebay postcard listing sent in by Jim

Born and raised in Berks, I am fascinated by the style, design & culture of the mid-late 20th century. I started this website to research and build a collection of the places, things and stories I have heard about my entire life. Read more here.

17 Replies to “Chef’s Inn – Sinking Spring | Monday Mystery”

  1. Could this possibly be the former Stoudt’s Restaurant at the corner of Hull St. and Penn Ave. in Sinking Spring.
    The building was torn down and is now a parking lot.

  2. Alexa: I’m going to go out on a very shaky limb here and say that what was the Chef’s Inn is now The Primitive Barn at 3809 Penn Ave.

    1. I have been comparing the Primitive Barn building on Google Street view to this image and I admit they do look VERY similar. However there is a discrepancy with number of windows on the second story front, as well as a door on the side, but really anything is possible!

      1. I noticed that about the number of windows. I’ve seen where they convert these older places to apartments, for example, and they block off windows (or doors) when dividing a room or erecting a wall for a hallway. I see that a dormer was added to the Primitive Barn roof at some point, most likely to create a living space. There was something about the overall proportions and size of the building that caught my eye, although I never ate at Chef’s Inn. I did drive by as a kid riding in a car with my parents, but can’t remember the exact location – it was many years ago!

  3. I lived at 648 Penn Avenue. So, the building was located 2 blocks east of my house, according to the address, seems likely that it would have been at the very beginning of the block. Is it possible, where the current McDonalds is now?

      1. Alexa
        If you look at the abandoned bank building on Google maps and zoom in on it you’ll see a stone home behind the Dunkin Donuts. That is where I grew up. My mother lived there until 1997.
        About the Chef’s Inn. In it’s later years (early 60’s) before the Bank of PA bought it, it was the Picadilly Restuarant.
        Loved their oyster soup! There was a plaque on the wall stating that George Washington had slept there.
        One day in May 1966 the cops showed up at our house and asked if we had heard anything during the night. Seems someone had robbed the bank!

        A couple years earlier there was a shoot out with the cops across the street at the Ye Olde Spring House.

  4. What is now US 422 in Sinking Spring was US 22 until 1932. Four miles west of Reading on old US 422 brings you to where the Village Greens golf course was, and the Primititive Barn.

  5. I think it was where McDonalds fountain is now, near the old Bank of Pa building. Might have been known as Picadilly Circus?

  6. If you pull into the parking lot just West of the Primitive Barn and drive clear to the back by the golf course there is a building with the exact same second story window configuration as the one in the post card, and there is a natural green par three golf course which may have been considered miniature golf back then. Curious.

    1. Something else that’s curious: I noticed in Google Street View that the main Bean Funeral Home building next to the Primitive Barn has seven windows across the front of the second floor, like the building shown in the postcard view of Chef’s Inn, and the 3 windows on the right side are closer together than the 4 on the left, just like Chef’s Inn. Now that would be quite the coincidence if they were not the same building!

  7. I believe the building that housed this restaurant was originally known as the historic “Blue Lantern Inn,” which was located on the south side of Penn Ave.,next to present day McDonalds property (as expanded in recent years to include Miller Apt. Bldg. – now demolished.) and in the same area as the “sinking spring” from which the borough’s name was derived.

  8. FWIW, I saw some ads in the Reading Times from 1935 that referred to “Hamilton’s Inn, formerly Chef’s Inn.”

  9. My wife and I wrote a 100th Anniversary History of Sinking Spring which is still available at the Borough Hall and there is a detailed history of this hotel along with much else. The book contains history and photos that you will find no where else for $10.00. This building was not the Primitive Barn. It stood just east of Dunkin Donuts and the Sinking Spring runway where the commemorative plaque is and the old derelict bank building still exists. To determine addresses, take the old address and add 3400 to it for today’s address. This historic stone and brick hotel supposedly dated to 1767 and was operated by John Huy. His son in law Samuel Addams later kept it. One of his sons was John Addams, father of Jane Addams of Chicago Hull House fame who received the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1931. The property passed through a number of operators and in 1897,Joel Hainly took over as the Sinking Spring Hotel and was one of the best known operators. Next to the spring, he created a park with topiary trees (a couple still remain in the rear as large trees) around the sinking spring and built a dance hall. Later, the hotel became the Hotel Suburban (1930’s), Chef’s Inn (1930’s to 1940’s), Blue Lantern Inn (1940’s to 1950’s), and last the Piccadilly Restaurant which Peter Vlahos acquired in May, 1956 until it was demolished in March, 1961 for Peoples Trust City Bank (later Bank of Pennsylvania) whose building still exists on the site. It was during the Blue Lantern years that the miniature golf course existed on the site of the topiary park garden and at one time run by Bill Heinly and at one time managed by Richard Barnett.

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