Restaurant's History Includes Big Bands & Chicken Wing Record
I get a special feeling when I walk into a place where great people did great things. I love the history. Let's get that feeling again.
Let's travel to The Village Casino in Bemus Point, New York. It’s only 35 miles from Erie. Despite the name, there's no gambling here. Never was. This place, on the shores of Chautauqua Lake, is known for its history of hosting big bands during the 1930s and 40s.
Tommy Dorsey, Count Basie, Lena Horne, and many more big band legends performed on the second floor stage at The Village Casino. Harry James brought his band here when he had a young singer named Frank Sinatra. The pictures of the stars are all over the walls of the restaurant and bar on the first floor. Want proof that a certain star performed here? Newspaper advertisements that promoted the performances are also hung on the restaurant walls
Guy Lombardo, Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, and Benny Goodman all have their pictures on the wall. Bandleader Artie Shaw brought a young singer named Billie Holiday to Bemus Point. Bandleader Ozzie Nelson brought a singer named Harriet Hilliard. She would later become his wife and co-starred with him in a popular television show.
"We spent a good couple of years putting these history displays together, says Andrew Carlson, the current owner of The Village Casino. He also gets that special feeling from being in a place where legends performed. He hopes others enjoy it too.
"You know, I think it was important for us to do that history display and let people understand what went on here in the 30s and 40s. It's a big part of who we are and what we do,” says Andrew.
These days, The Village Casino focuses on modern entertainment plus the food and the atmosphere. There's outside seating overlooking the lake. Boaters can dock at one of the restaurant's 60 boat slips.
The Big Band Era is over, however, greatness continues. The Village Casino set a Guinness World Record for the most chicken wings served in a 24 hour period. It served 40,210 wings in 18 hours back in 2018. Yes, greatness!!!
"That's what we're known for,” says Andrew. “Chicken wings, burgers, and beer...and affordable waterfront dining.”