The Log Cabin is located five miles north of the historic City of Lancaster on a site once occupied by the Nanticoke Indians. According to local sources, the original log cabin was built in the early 1900’s out of oak logs cut by hand from the surrounding Lehoy Forest.
During its early years, The Cabin operated as a “speakeasy.” These were the years of Prohibition, when the “manufacture, sale or transport” (but, significantly, not the “use or consumption”) of intoxicating liquors was prohibited by the 18th Amendment to the Constitution and the Volstead Act. No one knows exactly who the Cabin’s patrons were or how it operated during this period; but we do know that many speakeasies tried to avoid breaking the law by selling their customers “set ups” (ice, glasses, pitchers, mixers, condiments, etc.) and then providing “complementary” alcoholic beverages as a courtesy. Other establishments, called “Blind Pigs,” charged their patrons to see an attraction (like the saloon keepers who sold tickets to see a blind pig!) and then gave them free beers to go along.
Despite these efforts to circumvent the laws’ intent, police raids and arrests remained a concern. Hence, speakeasies typically hid themselves from view, behind peephole doors and in downstairs rooms. Personal referrals, special codes, and secret passwords were often required to enter. The Log Cabin’s location in a forest surrounded by Amish farms may have helped it stay clear of the law and prosper during this era. According to its original owner, C. L. Leicey, illegal alcohol was stored under the wooden booths that still occupy The Booth Room, just in case the police happened to show up unexpectedly.
The speakeasy era – the era of the Roaring 20’s, the Great Gatsby, Al Capone and Herbert Hoover – ended with the ratification of the 21st Amendment in 1933. By then the country had entered the Great Depression, and the restaurant business was a very difficult one. Yet the Log Cabin Restaurant survived the Depression and prospered through the following war years as well.
By 1961, the Log Cabin had caught the eye of a young man named Charles (“Charlie”) DiSantis. Charlie loved cooking and art, and he saw the restaurant as the perfect opportunity to pursue both interests simultaneously. Using all the resources he could pull together at the time, Charlie purchased the property from the original owner and embarked on a fifty-year project that saw many expansions and innovations along with an ever-growing collection of art. Most of the early portraits and other works from this collection remain for your enjoyment, including copies of several master artists, some painted by Charlie himself.
In 2008, when the Covered Bridge on Log Cabin Road shut down for repairs, Charlie closed the restaurant and decided to retire. Two years later, Lancaster natives and restaurateurs, Dave and Linda Eshleman, who first met while working for Charlie at the Log Cabin, joined with local businessman Kirk Liddell and his wife, Pam, to reestablish the Log Cabin as Lancaster’s premier fine dining restaurant. The purchase was completed in late 2010 and, following extensive renovations and improvements, The Log Cabin reopened in April of 2011.