Hoak’s Lakeshore Restaurant, the iconic restaurant on Lake Erie has not met up to my expectations. I always imagined from listening to people talk for years that it was a very nice place for a nicer meal and atmosphere with a view of Lake Erie and Buffalo in the distance.
I can take nothing away from the view; you can’t get much better in Hamburg, NY. I parked in the clock tower parking lot. This is Hoak’s parking lot and a popular place for travelers to just breathe in the lake air, admire the windmills near Woodlawn, and look at Buffalo in the distance.
As I walked up to the blunt looking brick building, I was saddened that the kitchen’s overflow business: trash cans, drink pallets, employee grill, and the dumpster was my first impression.
Inside I enjoyed the yellow-jacketed wooden fisherman greeting me at the entrance. It seemed ubiquitous for a place like this on the water. Through the dividing door was a circular bar with three men enjoying afternoon delights.
I waited in the entrance to the dining area expecting to be seated. After a few minutes, the bartender leaned over into the hallway and said I was to seat myself. I thought it too windy to sit on the patio so I took a table at the window. I was there for the view too.
I was immediately disappointed that the place was very run down. I got the idea that Hoak’s was taking their location on the water for granted and were being negligent in caring for or cleaning their restaurant.
I was hoping for a much nicer place. I asked my waitress if there was another dining room since the one I was seated in was small with crowded tables. The floor was cracked in many areas and the tables and chairs were more like patio furniture and none to clean.
She said there was a dining area upstairs but it was only opened on Fridays and for special meetings. I told her I may want to bring my father there for a Friday night meal sometime and asked to take a look at the arrangement of this other dining area.
Joanne told me that I could not see it and that furthermore the stairs were very steep. I was not pleased with this shun and lack of customer service. I was disappointed but looked out at the water showing tiny whitecaps and relaxed.
I ordered soup and coleslaw. The soup was French Onion and it was delicious. The strange thing was that my coleslaw was totally white with flavorless dressing. It was albino coleslaw. I do not think there was any coleslaw prepared so the cook served me this flavorless, bland lump of cabbage because he or she was in a hurry.
It was bad coleslaw or not coleslaw or whatever it was. I pondered the wall decor while I ate. I enjoyed the nautical theme and antiques covering the walls. There are stained glass pictures of sailboats as upper window treatments. A humorous placard said that, “The Titanic was built by the Irish and destroyed by an Englishmen.”
I then started noticing more and more of the Irish theme. Photos of former patrons and times gone by were nice since I love history.
My waitress was nice except for not giving me the tour I asked for although none too attentive to check on my meal. Joanne was dressed in shorts and a polo shirt fitting for the hot weather. It was casual dress but my expectations of more were blown by now.
The other waitress drew attention to herself by wearing black shorts, a black t-shirt, a gold belt, and pink tennis shoes. I wondered if there was any dress code for the waitresses at all, very tacky.
Soon I was ready to leave and headed to the ladies room. I have to concede that there was really no other answer shy of a total renovation (Hoak’s could use one) that could have placed the ladies room elsewhere.
It was outside the entrance door to the restaurant. I thought this was funny and tragic. All told, I will not be taking my father to Hoak’s Lakeshore Restaurant for dinner or lunch.
Hoak’s Lakeshore Restaurant
4100 Lake Shore Road
Hamburg, NY 14075