When I first moved to Florida, my job as a civil engineer took me all over the state. When I was down in the Lake Wales area, a special treat was to have dinner at Chalet Suzanne.
It was expensive, but I could put it on my expense account and skip breakfast and lunch.
At one time it was one of the most famous resorts in Florida, with its own airstrip where people flew in from all over the country.
It was featured many times in national magazines like the New Yorker and National Geographic.
In 1931 the newly widowed Bertha Hinshaw opened her home as a restaurant and inn. The dinners were famous and featured her own original recipes.
All meals were served from her collection of fine china.
Most of the time the china pieces didn't match each other but that was part of the charm.
Equally charming was the interior. You felt like you were a guest in someone's home, which in fact you were.
The Chalet almost burned down in 1943 and was rebuilt using pieces salvaged from the stables and other buildings on the property.
The new design was sort of haphazard and the building had 14 different levels.
In 1956 the Chalet opened its own cannery on the property to can their famous soups. The soups were very popular and sold all over the world.
Chalet Suzanne soup even traveled with the astronauts on two Apollo missions to the moon.
Many famous people dined there in its heyday including Dinah Shore and Burt Reynolds, Robert Redford, Johnny Carson, Don Johnson, and Kevin Costner.
The restaurant and inn closed in 2014 and is currently being used as a drug and rehabilitation center known as Refuge on the Ridge.
Now addicts in recovery can make their home at the chalet for as long as three years. The chalet's faith based rehabiliation program has helped many people.
Feb 13, 2021
by: Mike & Denise Clark
We were married there in 1993 and returned again in 1999 to celebrate our 6th anniversary. We created the tile and have since been back to see it many times. We know exactly where it is in the wall of the rose garden. We were so sad when it closed. Would love to go back again and would love to have our tile.
Aug 24, 2020
My husband and I spent our honeymoon there in 1989. It was a beautiful room. We went back to visit. We were so sad when it closed.
May 29, 2020
Oh what a great time!
by: L Crouch
My husband and I had the best time there in 1999 I think it was. Even though it had seen better days, it still had a wonderful ambiance.
Mar 18, 2020
by: Suzanne C.
I took my parents there in 1988. They had just retired to Lakeland from Maryland. My Dad took one look at the menu, then set it aside.
I asked him what he planned to order. He said "nothing." I asked why. He said "Did you see the prices?" The menu was limited to four entrees. The least expensive entree was the chicken, which was $45. I said "yes but that this was my treat, so don’t worry about the prices."
The waitress arrived to take our order. When she got to my Dad, he said "Why is the chicken so expensive, did you fly it over on the Concorde?"
Jan 02, 2020
My wife and I spent our honeymoon there
by: James a Hadden III
My wife and I spent our honeymoon there in 2002, and came back in 2003 and 2004. They had great soups too. ( The factory was on site)
Sad to see it no longer exists.
Jan 02, 2020
by: Sarina Paris
My grandparents took us to Chalet Suzanne a few times for very, very special occasions. My favorite course involved a pink grapefruit with calf liver on top. It was delicious. Chalet Suzanne also had delicious split pea soup. Have never found any that compared! Oh how I wish we could go back!
Jan 02, 2020
Spent my honeymoon there.
Loved everything about it.
Jan 01, 2020
by: J. Ford
LOVED this place! Would drive from West Palm Beach to enjoy the scenery, the ambiance, and especially the food! So sorry when it closed! All good things must come to pass!
Feb 25, 2019
ATE THERE - FINALLY
1950 - Mother ate lunch there and forever after we had their signature broiled grapefruit for special occasions. She couldn't afford dinner.
1960 - Spent first night of marriage in one of the cottages. Couldn't afford to eat.
1980 - Got as far as the front door of restaurant. Husband and two kids. Couldn't afford to eat.
2000 - Finally ate there. Still could not afford it!
But sometimes, you just have to sacrifice! Glad we went.
Feb 25, 2019
by: J. O'Steen
I remember stopping here for lunch when I had a little extra time and money. It was always such a pleasant experience.