Duncan Hines at the Krebs

“Finally, although New York City boasted many fine restaurants, few could compare, in [Duncan] Hine’s estimation, with the Krebs at Skaneateles, New York. The Krebs was operated by Fred Krebs until his death in the late 1930s. Its ownership was taken over by Frederick W. Perkins, a twenty-four-year Krebs employee and his wife, who for many years afterward gave hungry travelers some of the best food in New York State. Located in a town of less than 2000 population in the region’s Finger Lakes section, in its day the restaurant often served more than 1000 people daily. People would ‘drive up from New York for one meal’; reservations had to be made months in advance.

“Milton MacKaye, describing its riches, wrote: ‘Here, from April to December, food is presented in prodigious quantities; coffee in half-gallon pots. The lobster Newburg is famous, and may be served along with a choice of soups and desserts, a half chicken, a slice of roast beef three eighths of an inch thick, five vegetables, and a sherbet. It’s marvelous, but it’s brutal.’

“Hines swooned over this culinary institution, never making up his mind which of their many dishes he liked best. ‘Perhaps it’s the lobster, perfectly marvelous,’ he opined, which was served ‘along with a superlative cut of roast beef and fried chicken, or perhaps it is the amazing popovers that greet you for breakfast.’ Whichever it was, he always tried to show up when he was in the neighborhood.”

— From Duncan Hines: The Man Behind the Cake Mix (2001) by Louis Hatchett; this excerpt is from a chapter dealing with Hines’ activities in 1938; the Krebs had first appeared in Duncan Hines’ Adventures in Good Eating in 1935; Milton MacKaye, quoted here, was a New York writer for magazines and newspapers. The ad above, featuring the Krebs along with a Duncan Hines quote, is from Life magazine, May 19, 1941.

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