Strongbow is located at:
2405 E US 30
Valparaiso, IN 46383
Tuesday - Friday
9:00 am - 7:00 pm
7:30 am - 6:00 pm
10:00 am - 5:00 pm
Tuesday - Thursday
11:00 am - 9:00 pm
11:00 am - 9:30 pm
10:30 am - 8:00 pm
As we look to the future, we are reminded of the past and cherish its place in our lives. For that reason, we would like to share with you a brief reflection of how Strongbow Inn was transformed from a small turkey sandwich stand in the late 1930s to the full-service restaurant, banquet centre, and bakery that it is today.Past generations have watched Strongbow grow and change through the years. We look forward to sharing our life...and our passion for wonderful cuisine...with future generations, as well!
- Dr. Walter Thrun and his wife, Bess, and their young daughters, Mary Helen and Caroline (Chuggie) move to the Finney Farm, where, with a friend and colleague, Dr. Harry Fuller, they raise their first crop of 1,500 turkeys.
- In honor of the Potawatomi Indian chief who lived on the land with his tribe in the 1800s, they rename the farm “Strongbow Turkey Farm.”
- Construction of the Strongbow Turkey Inn begins, along with construction of the coast-to-coast US 30.
- Strongbow Turkey Inn and US 30 open. The Inn features 28 seats in the dining room, 8 cabins for overnight guests ($6 to $8 per night), and three gas pumps.
- The first menu consists of a turkey dinner, hot or cold turkey sandwich, turkey a la king, turkey turnovers (forerunners of the now-famous Strongbow Turkey Pie), and Gram Russell’s southern pecan pie.
- During the war years, 1942-1945, times are lean and the future does not look bright. Gas is rationed; no one is traveling US 30 or even driving the mile outside of Valparaiso to eat out. The family decides to close the restaurant until things get better.
- Bess reopens the Inn at the end of the war and works harder than ever to make her pride and joy the best it could be. Her reputation for excellence in food and service spreads rapidly, and soon people from as far as Chicago to the west and Fort Wayne to the east come to Strongbow Turkey Inn.
- An addition to the dining room was made on the north side, and a patio was added on the east side for summer dining. In the late 40s, the first of many additions to the kitchen is made. Dishes no longer had to be washed in the back of the gas station! The gas pumps out front are removed.
- 1951, after the death of Dr. Thrun, Chuggie and her husband, Chuck Adams, and Mary Helen and husband, Don Lewis, move to the farm to join the business. The Lewises stay about two years before moving into their own business. Chuck and Chuggie remain to run the farm and the restaurant.
- Grazing turkeys become a familiar sight along US 30, as the “broad-breasted bronze” breed are raised on the farm.
- Chuck and Chuggie run the dining room, hire and train staff, organize reservations, fill in for kitchen staff when needed, tend to the roses and orchards, and raise the turkeys.
- A large red Strongbow Turkey Inn sign is erected on the front of the restaurant and soon becomes a US 30 landmark.
- The third dining room addition, the “Pow Wow Room,” is made. Chuck and Chuggie start a mailing list and work hard to keep in contact with their loyal customer base. Mailings go out five and six times a year to keep everyone “abreast” of the happenings at Strongbow Turkey Inn.
- Chuck and Chuggie purchase Strongbow Turkey Inn and the farm from Bess.
- Strongbow becomes eligible for a liquor license due to modernized Indiana law. The license is obtained and Chuck and Chuggie build the first addition as new owners. A new entrance, lobby, and banquet hall, named “Chuggie’s,” are added. The “Chummy Bar,” named after Chuck’s 1929 yellow Austin Chummy car, makes its debut.
- On Thanksgiving Day, 1969, Strongbow serves its first holiday buffet in Chuggie’s. Bright red painted concrete floors and antique stained plywood walls are set off with white tablecloths, covering homemade decoupage tables: a modest beginning for what soon became a much-anticipated holiday tradition!
- Mother’s Day is the busiest day of the year, often serving more than 1,000 satisfied guests. Other holidays are also festive. On Thanksgiving, the staff dresses like Indians, and on Father’s Day, Chuck’s antique auto club sponsors a car show for all to enjoy.
- In August, the first of many wedding receptions is held at Chuggie’s.
- In 1978, Chuck and Chuggie’s son, Russ, graduates from the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) at Hyde Park, New York, and receives the coveted Cordon Bleu medal. He returns home and takes the helm in the Strongbow kitchen.
- After a brief illness, Bess Russell Thrun Davis dies in her sleep at Porter Memorial Hospital. She leaves behind her husband, two daughters, two sons-in-law, eight grandchildren, and three great grandchildren.
- New federal regulations force the closing of virtually all private slaughtering and processing plants. The end of “fresh-from-the-farm” turkeys is a reality. However, Strongbow ensures that the food and the service remain top caliber.
- Chuggie’s undergoes major remodeling and is renamed the Caroline Room.The Strongbow Turkey Pie goes almost nationwide and can be purchased in select supermarkets from Washington, D.C., to Minneapolis.
- The construction of the Indiana 49 bypass spurs a major Strongbow renovation, with the restaurant being “turned around” with the main entrance on the frontage road, a new state-of-the-art kitchen addition, and the expansion of the Caroline Room to now accommodate 250 guests. A new bar and lounge – the “Blue Yonder Lounge” – is a tribute to Chuck’s lifelong love of flying. The original dining room is transformed into an elegant raised setting, and the original kitchen, now obsolete, is turned into the private dining room, “The Club Room.”
- The Adams family sells the farm. The property on the south side of US 30, including the family home, Russ’s home, and all the farm buildings, is sold to Wal-Mart for a shopping center, appropriately named “Strongbow Centre.”
- Strongbow Inn celebrates its 50th anniversary with many festive events.
- Russ and Nancy open a bar and restaurant in downtown Valparaiso called PassTimes.
- The Strongbow Bakery, yet another building addition, opens, featuring chef Bunthon Mao’s artistry in cakes, breads, cookies, and specialty pastries.
- Russ and Nancy purchase the restaurant and, on July 23, 1993, they honor Chuck and Chuggie with a formal retirement party – an event that marked 42 years of dedication to the restaurant and to the community!
- The newly added Charles Room and the beautifully expanded Caroline Room, with its magnificent reception hall and lobby, become Northwest Indiana’s preferred venue for special occasions and business meetings, comfortably accommodating up to 500 people.
- In 1999, Russ and Nancy open FrosTop drive-in restaurant under the name ACM, Incorporated, the first initials of each of their three children, Ashley, Courtney, and Matthew.
The Celebration of the New Millenium
Ringing in the new millennium, the friends and family of Strongbow also celebrate some very special events of their own, most notably Chuck and Chuggie’s 50th Wedding Anniversary and – a milestone of the new millennium – the 60th Anniversary of Strongbow Inn.
For the 60th Anniversary, Russ and Nancy invite friends, family, and patrons to a formal, invitation-only, gala. At the event, guests enjoy the cuisine of Strongbow, tours, a video program, and an orchestra – all designed to celebrate the past 60 years and create excitement and anticipation for what the future holds.
As we set our sights on the future with perseverance, dedication, and vision, the family that started a tradition in the 1930s continues an ongoing tradition of exquisite cuisine, uncompromised service, and the pursuit of excellence in every endeavor, however great or small.
My, How We've Grown
As Strongbow's dining establishment and reputation has grown through the years, so, too has the founding family. Here’s a glimpse of where we are today.Chuck and Chuggie are enjoying their retirement in their beautiful home on Sanibel Island, Florida.
Russ and Nancy, Strongbow's current proprietors, reside in Valparaiso and have three children, Ashley, Courtney, and Matthew.
Shellie and Brian reside in Rhinelander, Wisconsin, and have four grown sons, Josh, Jesse, Jake, and James.
Char and Kevin live in Rochester Hills, Michigan, with their three children, Jocelyn, Jenny Rose, and Joy.
Holly and Rocco live in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, with their three children, Austin, Haley, and Emma.