A Brief History of the Landing
In 1919, Charles Dunbar was the owner of a 40-acre farm on Green Lake, where lake residents purchased fresh milk and eggs. There were no buildings or sand beach along the shore at that time, and Mr. Dunbar watered his cows at the lake. If his pump froze during the winter, he would cut holes in the ice so that his cows wouldn’t go without water.
Arthur C. Luebke walked to Lauderdale Lakes from Milwaukee that year in hopes of purchasing property in the area. Although there was still no direct transportation to the lake, Arthor could have ridden a trolley as far as East Troy. However, he chose to walk because he considered the 68-cent ride too expensive! At first, Arthur purchased 3 acres from Charles Dunbar in 1920 with the intention of building a home and making his living farming and doing carpentry work around the lake.
In 1921, Arthur constructed a single building on the property to house himself and his wife, their sons Erv and Arthur F., and their daughter Edna. The Luebke family settled into their new home and began planting their crops. They grew vegetables, strawberries and apples, and were soon selling their produce to many customers around the lake. A lean-to added onto the back of the house was used as a store, where the Luebkes sold groceries and ice cut from the lakes the winter before. As business increased, a better entrance road from Highway 12 was soon needed, so more farmland was purchased to provide the access road that is still used today.
As the automobile made more travel possible, tent camping became very popular because it was both flexible and affordable. In the summer of 1929, a troop of U.S. Cavalry reserve militia asked permission to camp on the Luebkes’ land. Permission was granted and the 400 men and 300 horses spent two weeks camping on the Luebke property that summer and returned again the following year. The idea caught on and soon people from Chicago brought their tens to spend the summer camping along the shore at the Luebke Green Lake Grove Resort on Luebke’s Bay. When the first guest visited the resort, there were no cottages or other buildings. Campers came and set up near the water, bringing their own tents and provisions. Tent camping was the genesis of today’s travel trailer and mobile home, and the old Luebke property (now known as Lauderdale Shores) has become the permanent location for many mobile homes today.
Good fishing was the main attraction of the resort, and there were plenty of northern pike, pickerel, bluegills, perch and bass to be caught. Since few of the visiting campers had their own boats, the absence of suitable piers or slips was a minor problem at first; the demand for rental boats to accommodate the fishermen was afar more pressing need. Arthur and his sons built two boats to start with, but soon they were building two boats a day and still couldn’t keep up with the demand! As quickly as the new boats were available, they were reserved. At one time there were about 90 boats available for hire and they were usually spoken for.
In 1930, Arthur Luebkes purchased lumber in Whitewater and built four rental cottages on his Lauderdale Lakes property. When the Twenty-First Amendment repealed prohibition in 1933, the store was enlarged, part of it was turned into a tavern, and a kitchen was added. Inside plumbing was installed in the tavern in 1950 and, as business increased, the tavern was again enlarged and remodeled. When the elder Luebkes died in 1952 and 1953, Erv and his wife, Kay, took over the resort. They had met in 1939 while Kay and her family were vacationing at the lakes and they were married in 1942. Erv and Kay managed the resort until 1968, when it was sold to Lauderdale Lakes Resort, Inc., which has since sold it. Today, the lots are individually owned.
The larger of the two lakefront restaurants currently in operation is the Lauderdale Landing on Middle Lake. The first building on the site was a two-story structure erected in 1929 by Ervan Kuhnke, a construction worker and stone mason. The Kuhnke family lived upstairs and the lower portion was operated as a store, called simply "The Store." In 1945, Mr. Kuhnke was granted a beer license and The Store became Kuhnke’s Resort.
Nello Achilli and his brother Rio bought Kuhnke’s Resort in the 1950’s, combining their first names and renaming it Riolo’s Inn. Soon Nello and his wife Helma bought Rio’s interest in the business and left their north side delicatessen in Chicago permanently. Thanks to their hard work and good cooking, Riolo’s became a popular lakeside restaurant.
After a fire on Deakin isle in the late 1950’s in which three children died before Whitewater and Elkhorn fire units arrived, Nello held a meeting of concerned men in the restaurant’s kitchen to discuss the need for local fire-fighting equipment. As a result of that meeting, an old fire truck was purchased and a local volunteer fire-fighting unit was established. Today the Lauderdale-LaGrange fire department consists of about 40 trained and certified volunteers.
The Achillis sold the restaurant in 1970 to another Illinois couple, Oona and Mike Kiley, who operated it as Kiley’s Kove for 15 years. In 1985, Bruce and Mary Bradshaw purchased the business and gave it its current name of Lauderdale Landing. The business changed hands again four years later and Lauderdale Landing was then owned by Fred and Carol Triebe.
In December of 2009, the Landing underwent a change of ownership again, being purchased by two brothers, Mike Healy and Marty Healy. The bar and restaurant received some much needed remodeling, focusing on updating the mens’ and women’s bathrooms, fixing up the dining area, and improving the appearance and condition of the outdoor bar and piers. It reopened, under new ownership and management, in the Springtime of 2010. If you haven’t been back in awhile come say hello!