Wauconda’s Lindy’s Landing turns 50

Growing up in Park Ridge in the early 1960s, Laurie Barth and her family would drive to Wauconda to enjoy summer days at Bangs Lake.

Back then, there was a little bar on the western shore of the lake called Farman’s. A boathouse with a little marina, really. It didn’t even have heat for the winter.

“It was an old fishing shack,” Barth recalled.

Then one day, Barth’s dad, Robert Lindstrom, noticed a “for sale” sign outside Farman’s. He got an itch. He bought the place.

And thus, in the summer of 1965, Lindy’s Landing was born.

Robert Lindstrom died in 2000, but the namesake bar and restaurant at 115 Park St. lives on.

Today, 50 years after her dad founded Lindy’s, Barth owns the place with her sisters, Cheryl Lindstrom and Bonnie Shippee. Barth’s daughter, Brittany Barth-Niggemann, is general manager.

And Lindy’s has grown from a tiny shack to a successful restaurant and bar that’s become a vital part of Wauconda’s Main Street business district.

Dad would be proud.

“He had the vision,” Barth said. “He would like it.”

Robert Lindstrom had no experience running a bar when he opened Lindy’s. He was a service technician for Peoples Gas.

But come summertime, he was out at Lindy’s, serving drinks and simple meals to boaters, locals and people coming to the lake for a day in the sun.

“It was just a dive bar,” Barth said of those early days. “He would do burgers and just basic things out of this little kitchen in the back.”

Lindstrom made some upgrades through the years, enough that Lindy’s became a year-round establishment by the early 1970s.

But Lindy’s stayed in that old boathouse until Lindstrom passed away.

When Barth and her sisters inherited the place, they had a decision to make: Sell Lindy’s, or — as Barth put it — “go all in and take it to the next level.”

The sisters chose the latter route. In 2003, they added a beachside deck and bar, providing patrons an unparalleled view of Bangs Lake.

Three years later, they tore down the original boathouse and replaced it with a much more spacious 7,000-square-foot building. A full-service restaurant opened in 2007.

Today, framed photos hanging on the walls of the dining room show patrons what life at Lindy’s was like back in the day.

“It was what it was,” Barth said. “But everybody enjoyed it.”

Wauconda Mayor Frank Bart praised Barth and her family for repeatedly reinvesting in the business and the community.

That includes a plan for land near Lindy’s that calls for a building with commercial and residential space.

“The Barth family has been great,” Bart said. “Those ladies do an outstanding job.”

Even though the original building is long gone and the business has expanded through the years, Barth insists the soul of Lindy’s hasn’t changed.

Longtime patrons agree.

“I was here when it was the old Lindy’s,” said Merrie Farwick, a Wauconda resident who eats at Lindy’s weekly. “It still has a lot of the original charm that the old Lindy’s did.”

Barth believes her dad opened Lindy’s around Memorial Day weekend, but the memories are a little hazy. So, she and her employees are putting together a golden anniversary party that’s tentatively scheduled for late September.

It will, of course, be open to the public.

Live music and activities for adults and children are in the works, said Amanda Peters, who handles marketing, public relations and entertainment for Lindy’s.

“We want to make it special for the (Lindstrom) family and also people who have been around since back in the day,” Peters said.

Robert Lindstrom has been gone 15 years. But he still looks over operations at Lindy’s. Just inside the front doors, a framed, black-and-white drawing of Lindstrom with his black Labrador retriever, Ollie, hangs on a wall.

Barth unsuccessfully fought tears as she talked about her dad and the family business he created 50 years ago.

“Every decision we make and everything we do, we think of him,” she said.

Barth loves it when customers who came to Lindy’s as kids, decades ago, return with their own children.

“We hear that all the time,” Barth said. “They want to know what’s happened since they were here last.”

When asked to describe what she thinks Lindy’s means to the Wauconda community. Barth said it’s one of the few businesses in the area that shows Wauconda’s resort-community roots.

“We’ve been consistent,” she said. “And there’s something to be said for that. Because there’s not a lot of that in the world anymore.”