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Fred & Cora Krebs

The Krebs, located at 53 Genesee Street in the heart of Skaneateles, stood as a testament to old-school, fine dining from 1899 to 2010, when it closed after the death of longtime co-owner Jan Loveless. It hosted the elite, including presidents from both Roosevelts to Clinton and specialized in traditional and highly ritualized 7-course dinners featuring heavyweight dishes like prime rib and a famous Lobster Newburg.

The Krebs was founded by Fred and Cora Krebs in the summer of 1899 when the couple began serving meals to neighbors. Located in the heart of up-state New York in the Genesee Valley in a lovely little lake town called Skaneateles. Open only from the end of May to the first of November, Fred and Cora Krebs opened up their summer cottage as a place to eat for people willing to travel to the quaint lakeside village.

The Krebs became one of the most widely known places of its kind in the United States. Skaneateles history suggests a walk through the main thoroughfare while the peak of summer would find a hundred or more cars parked with license plates from over thirty different states from folks just eating at The Krebs.

Krebs 1911

The Krebs circa 1911

Fred and Cora Krebs discovered early in their career that advertising would not bring diners. The Krebs focused solely on serving old-fashioned food, well cooked and bountifully served in a homelike surrounding.

Dieters were warned. The Krebs built a national reputation not only on the quality of its family style meals but also on the unlimited quantity offered. Dinner was served from 12:00 pm to 9:00 pm and during those times Fred and Cora along with their nieces served over eight hundred meals daily. Cora Krebs was one of 10 children and never lacked for nieces and nephews to staff The Krebs during the summer months.

The Krebs passed through three generations of the Kreb family before it was closed and sold to Adam and Kim Weitsman whose mission is to return The Krebs to its original glory all while giving back to the community.

To-day, more people can be seated in Krebs’ than in the dining-rooms of many of the large city hotels. Eight hundred meals a day is the average, with from twelve hundred to fifteen hundred on Saturdays and Sundays. The total for last season exceeded one hundred and fifty thousand. There is nothing about the exterior of the house, with its deep verandas and beautifully kept lawns, to suggest that it is open to the public. Indeed, there isn’t even a sign over the door. And, inside, there is no cigar counter, not even a stand for the sale of candies and souvenirs. The sunny, rambling rooms with their big, open fireplaces are papered in soft shades of gray, and the woodwork is painted ivory. In any of the dining-rooms you are seated at a table covered with snowy linen, gay with fresh-cut flowers, and gleaming with glass and silver. Then follows such a meal as you never before saw, smelled, or tasted! – E. Alexander Powell

 

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