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Ozaukee Press Article

Ozaukee Press Article

Al and Betty Lubahn built their showy new house in 1938 at the corner of Highway 33 and what was then Highway 57 in Saukville so it would be handy for them to work at Betty’s Lunch and Al’s Standard Service Station next door.

Its décor was the subject of a House Beautiful feature in the Thursday, Jan 16, 1941, issue of the Ozaukee Press.

The lannon stone house, which was torn down last week, had seven rooms and two bathrooms. The house was news, in part, because of the prominent role the Lubahns played in Saukville in those days, according to Saukville historian Jim Peterson.

The diner was a fixture in the community before Al bought it in 1931. After their marriage in 1934, it turned out to be Betty who had a knack for running the restaurant, Peterson said. She made good home-Style meals at a reasonable price, and even the biggest truck driver didn’t try to get away with anything with Betty there, he said.

During the peak years in the 1950’s and 1960’s, she averaged 400 customers a day, Betty told a reporter in 1985.

Betty continued to operate the diner after Al died in 1957. She sold the gas station at that time. The Building was torn down in the mid 1970’s.

Lubahn cooked meals and waited on customers for more than 50 years, keeping the diner open even after I-43 was built and most of the truck traffic passed by. Local legends made diner famous, infamous.

Local legends surrounding the diner include notorious characters and interesting dealings that went on in the basement and parking lots of the innocent-looking eatery.

Truck divers frequented the little restaurant during the 1920’s and 1930’s when it was on the main road between Milwaukee and Green Bay. Some of them, were mob-employed drivers coming from Chicago to buy bootleg whiskey during the Prohibition era.

The 1960’s Green Bay Packers were said to have played cards in the restaurant, Paul Newman and the Smothers brothers regularly stopped in on their way to the race track in Elkhart Lake. And some say Willian Niederkorn, founder of Simplicity Manufacturing Co., frequented the card games and slot machines that could be found on the premises.
Peterson said Betty Lubahn could flop a hamburger down on the grill, go out and fill someone’s car with gas, return in time to flip the burger before it burned and return to the gas pump to collect the customer’s money.

“It was the only place you could get something to eat after the bars closed. If nobody would work the late shift, Betty would take it, “ Peterson said. “She was never afraid of work”
Rules were different in the 1930’s. Despite her hard work and competence in running the restaurant, Betty was not allowed inside the Men’s Club in the basement, which featured a saloon with a beautiful wooden bar and endless card games.

In addition to running a tight ship in the restaurant, Betty Lubahn was an astute business woman. At the time of her death in 1991, she owned a substantial amount of property around the village, including the house, restaurant, Simplicity Lodge and the Payne Hotel.
Lubahn was a generous benefactor to Portal Industries and area charities. She helped found the Saukville Chamber of Commerce and the Port Washington Area Business and Professional Women.