A Delicious Long Island Heritage: History of Zorn’s of Bethpage

Zorn’s has been making delicious homemade food since 1940 when Peter Zorn opened his first retail store on Long Island. His vision was to offer wholesome, made-from-scratch meals using the freshest ingredients that busy families could take home with them, creating one of New York’s first take-out services. We are proud to be listed on the New York State Historic Business Preservation Registry which honors businesses that have been in operation for at least 50 years and have contributed to their communities’ history.

In the 1930s, prior to the retail business in Bethpage, the Zorn family owned seven poultry farms on Long Island selling chickens and turkeys to wholesalers in Queens and the Bronx. At the time the Bethpage area was primarily farmland.

A short time after, he added his soon-to-be-famous southern fried chicken and bar-b-que spare ribs. This turned into a thriving take-out business. His menu kept growing as he met his customers’ needs. Before long he had a complete catering menu serving Long Island families all year long. Take-out meals and catering were new concepts in the 1950s and became very popular on Long Island. Many tried to imitate this concept, but Zorn’s Poultry Farms was always number one.

Today Zorn’s is owned and operated by Merrill S. Zorn, Peter Zorn’s only granddaughter, who grew up working in all aspects of the family business.

“We use the same recipes and cooking methods as my grandfather. Some of our traditions are looked upon as old-fashioned by today’s standards, but this is how we maintain our high quality and consistency. The value of our generous portions, personalized customer service, quality ingredients, and our family recipes have made our business a success,” said Merrill. “There is always a Zorn in the kitchen making sure that the original recipes passed down from my grandparents, are still prepared with the same quality and pride that they were 80 years ago!”

Zorn’s of Bethpage has transformed several times over the past 80 + years. For decades it was home to a functioning poultry farm and thousands of chickens and turkeys. In 2019, Merrill took on a massive undertaking by moving the entire business into a brand new 8,000 sq. ft. store at the same address in Bethpage.

She was personally involved in the design of the new building and listened to customers’ ideas and suggestions resulting in a beautiful new space with a dining area inside and out, as well as bathrooms for their patrons.

The new building pays tribute to the history of Zorn’s with historic photos and memorabilia used as décor.

“We kept our story alive not just for our family, but for our community and our staff, and we couldn’t be happier with how well the transition went, and all the love and support we were shown throughout the process,” Merrill added.

Visit www.zornsofbethpage.com/our-story/history to learn more including a comprehensive timeline of the restaurant’s history.

—Reprinted with permission from Zorn’s of Bethpage.

Anton Media Staff
In addition to its arts and entertainment publication Long Island Weekly, Anton Media Group publishes 16 community newspapers, several magazines, specialty publications and websites. With brands dating back to 1877, Anton has a commitment to deliver trusted and relevant content to the communities it serves.

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