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Crystal Lake Historical Society

Branded Steak House

Local History

The Branded Steak House existed under that name from 1965 to 1983. It was owned then by Willie Hanke, who took over a long-time eating establishment on the site at Routes 14 and 31.

Between 1932 and 1945, Carl and Marie Hendricks owned the site and operated a gas station and barbecue stand known as Marie’s Place in 1934. They re-named it the Crystal Y in 1935. The overpass didn’t yet exist and the intersection formed a Y shape. In 1936, they expanded the restaurant and phased out the gas station. In 1945, Otto Koetz took over the Crystal Y. Herbert Huppert and a partner purchased the Crystal Y in 1948 and in 1956 Huppert became sole owner. In 1962, Huppert sold out to Bob Maginnis who leased to Pierre and Monique Couteau, previously of the Villa d’Este in Cary.

Willie Hanke worked at Nielsen’s near Chicago as a youngster, continued as a pantryman and cook in the Navy, and found his way to Crystal Lake in 1962, taking over the Auto Dine (now Around the Clock) on Rt. 14. Willie and a partner took over from Bob Maginnis with $3,000 and did almost $300,000 worth of business in the first year. He started with 7 people serving a seating capacity of 70. Over the next 10 years, the Branded went through several remodelings and expansions. In 1967, a new wing of 90 seats was added and the kitchen enlarged. The largest expansion was the 1973 addition of a 500-seat dining room. Then in 1974, a lounge was opened. In 1975, seating capacity was over 850 served by about 113 employees.

Willie’s employees included manager Bob Lenhart, butcher chef Joe Lutz, hostess Betty Knauf, head waitress Edwen Psonak, waitresses Kathy Shaughnessy, Lois Scudder, and Lois Berlin, bar manager John Longano, barkeepers Dick Martin, Ralph Coleman, Vern Goddard, Vaughn Torguson, Ed Miller, and Jackie Nations, and many other behind-the-scenes folks. Branded served a buffet luncheon every day but Sunday, dinner every day, and Sunday brunch. Char-broiled steaks and seafood were the specialty of one of the best restaurants in the area. In 1975, Branded used about 3,000 pounds of meat and 600-700 pounds of fish a week.  Many banquets, including the Cary-Grove Class of 1966 senior dinner and the 50-year reunion of CLHS Class of 1932, were held at the Branded Steak House.

In 1983, the Spentzos family took over and it became the Hob Nob II. Then in 2003, the building was completely remodeled and re-named D’Andrea Banquets.