Written for MyCentralJersey.com on 8/9/17
Visitors to Lory’s Lakeside, a warm, family-friendly restaurant featuring an “anytime menu” of American favorites, may relish in its lakefront charm – but will also be surprised to know the restaurant that once stood in its place offered zero lakefront views.
“I was looking for a restaurant to buy and I found this unbelievable property – an acre and a half on a lake that had been an eatery for 50 years,” said Todd Lory, owner and chef at Lory’s Lakeside, who also resides on the property. “When I walked into the restaurant formerly called Whalebones, though, I realized they were doing everything wrong – you couldn’t even see the lake.”
Lory scooped up the property 22 years ago and immediately changed and added items to the menu, renovated the interior, revamped the exterior, accentuated the lakefront views and also added bar-friendly elements such as a pool table.
About three months ago, Lory’s Lakeside reopened following a three-month closing where the restaurant underwent renovation once again to make it more modern, fresh and upscale. Eight feet was added around the building which added to the dining area, another dining area was revamped to be made more family-friendly, a new bar was handmade with maple by a customer who owns a cabinetry company and a beer cooler with 40 types of beers as well as six additional tap beers were also installed alongside a new wine station offering 17 types of wine.
“Since the renovations, we have been getting a lot of new faces,” said Lory. However, this is only in addition to the plethora of regulars that flock to Lory’s Lakeside – Lory said that the friendly service and quality food pulls in the 500 weekly guests, as well as the fact that “when a regular customer pulls into the parking lot, the bartenders will already have their favorite drink ready.”
Lory said that he doesn’t plan on doing any additional expansion to Lory’s Lakeside, however, “the menu will always be changing as we change with the seasons.” Some of the staples of the $8-$28 menu – in which customers can get “anything from the grilled cheese sandwich to the filet mignon” – include the hand-cut French fries, hamburgers and drunken shrimp and clams.
“I’m old-school,” said Lory. “We make all of our sauces, dressings and soups in-house. Everything is fresh and homemade.”
Specials are also offered weekly at Lory’s Lakeside, which have included favorites such as a prime rib sandwich, beef stroganoff over pierogis and meatloaf. Twenty-five different appetizers can also be found on the menu, which tend to be popular for large parties.
On Fridays, Lory’s Lakeside offers karaoke and live music is offered on Wednesdays and every other Saturday. A schedule can be found on their website at loryslakeside.com.
Lory has been involved in the restaurant business for his entire life – he started working at his family’s deli at age 12 and took over managing it at age 30, which he did for 12 years before opening Lory’s Lakeside. A self-taught chef, he has learned alongside other chefs in the kitchen and has also worked as a server, maître d’ and in other restaurant positions.
“This is not just my business or my livelihood,” said Lory. “It’s also my home.”
Where: 97 Church Lane, North Brunswick Township
Cost Range: $8-$28