History: Whitefish Chain Restaurants

Some of your favorite restaurants around the Whitefish Chain have a long history in the community, dating back in some cases 80 years or more, to the days of prohibition and gangsters. These favorites have staying power!

Moonlite Bay, as it was built in 1933. Photo courtesy of the Crosslake Area Historical Society

Moonlite Bay in Crosslake has been a favorite of boat-in and drive-in residents and visitors since the early 1930s. According to the go-to local history book, A Taste of History, compiled by the Crosslake Historical Society, Moonlite Bay was constructed in 1933. It was originally built as a dance hall with several rental cabins operating nearby as well, known as Moonlite Bay Resort. Over the years, the restaurant has seen many owners. Area history says that the original building was made using "dead heads" or logs that were half-submerged and left in the lake from logging days. Back then, Moonlite Bay (the bay proper, not the restaurant) was used as a gathering area for timber logged nearby by Crosslake Lumber Company.

Sadly Moonlite Bay's center portion burned to the ground in 1965, but the dance hall was rebuilt. Resort cabins were later moved and the dance hall was expanded into a supper club. "Moonlite Nights" were celebrated as the restaurant and dance hall became a fixture in the community.

Moonlite Bay burned again in 1984, and was completely destroyed. Mr. and Mrs. Dick Bronstrom had just purchased the restaurant, and as A Taste of History tells it, "their dreams went up in flames." Eventually, though, the restaurant was again rebuilt. Chances are that if you've spent time around the Whitefish Chain, you've had your own "Moonlite Nights."

Though it's not directly on the Whitefish Chain, the former Ox Lake Tavern is another favorite area restaurant with a long history. Today, the restaurant is called the Bourbon Room on Ox Lake and is located just north of Crosslake on County Road 66. Ox Lake Tavern was once also a resort with cabins, and was built sometime prior to the late 1940s. It's still a packed place on summer nights.

Manhattan Beach Lodge, a long-time area business, was established as both a resort and dining hall in 1929. The place has become surrounded by both glamour and mystery, as it's been rumored to host several Hollywood stars as well as gangster-era mobsters over its many decades. Tales are told of secret gambling and a speakeasy during the days of prohibition.

In the 1960s, Manhattan Beach Lodge was the operator of a Crosslake airport. Planes would come from across the state for breakfast flights hosted at the airport, which was located across the road from the current site of Northwedge Nursery.

Over its many years, Manhattan Beach Lodge has continued to be a favorite date-night restaurant alongside a well-known bar.

These are just a few of the Whitefish Chain Area restaurants with long, fascinating histories on the chain. A special thanks goes out to A Taste of  History and the Crosslake Area Historical Society for the use of this interesting information. Pick up your own copy of A Taste of History at Judy's House of Gifts in Crosslake.

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