Bernie Wilson's Restaurant was located at 4 Broadway. It operated from the 1940s (when it sponsored a bowling team) through at least 1962 (when it suffered a night time break in).
It was Betty's Restaurant from 1965 until February 28, 1975, when proprietor Betty Sayles retired; it was taken over by her assistant, Alice Eleanor Carter, and her daughter, Beryl Laramee and operated as Alice's Restaurant until 1991, when it closed.
In 2000, the building was in such bad shape that there was talk of tearing it down to make a parking lot, or park. 1 Because of oil leaks, the building incurred such heavy fines from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation that it was abandoned by its owners. The Village of Saranac Lake took title and the fines were forgiven. It was sold to a new private owner, who renovated the whole building. The storefront reopened as Pink, a women's clothing store, which it remained in 2011. In 2019 (and for some time previous) it houses the offices of Cape Air, our local carrier.
On September 27, 2019, Bob Seidenstein's column in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise discussed some story-telling Bob remembered overhearing at Alice's: "The boys" were so dubbed by Alice's waitress, Helen Bishop. Their label is in quotation marks because at that time, all of them were rocking the wrong side of 70. Then again, I think Helen had just entered her ninth decade, so to her they probably WERE boys. Their usual lineup was Jug Hayes, Jim Gragg, a Lewis or two, Ed Worthington, Francis Gauthier, and someone or other I forgot. they always sat on the counter on the north side of the joint; I always sat in a booth on the south side. Being in the booth kept me out of their line of sight, but still well within hearing range. . . . Francis Gauthier went into story-telling mode. . . . Mr. Gauthier (called "Gokey" by his friends, since that's pretty close to the Quebecois pronunciation of his name) was a great guy. I knew him all my life and remember him as always being warm and friendly, always willing to chat, always upbeat and pleasant. He'd been a cop when I was a little kid and of course had a stash of cop stories. . . .
From Phil Gallos' piece on the McIntyre Block
Bernie Wilson's was a classic example of the malt shop and the workingman's restaurant. It was most especially the formers and, for nearly thirty years, high school students crowded the counter and jammed the booths of Bernie Wilson's. There were pinball machines in an alcove where the action was always fast and noisy. Disputes were settled out back under the exhaust fans where, it has been said, one could eat an order of french fries simply by inhaling.
Bernie Wilson died in the late 1960s. For some years the place was called Betty's, and then Alice's.
On the HSL Facebook page, Gail Hoyt Metz writes: "My mom, Pauline Hoyt, worked there in the early 50's as did Ruth Ryan, Ruby Trushaw, Conrad Baker, Stella Jarvis. I probably missed someone. Ruby was a wonderful cook & her daughter later owned Alice's. The high school students all congregated there after school. It was the teenage hangout. Remember french fries with GRAVY - oh, the calories. Such good memories."
And Kathy Munn writes that her mom, Sara Griffin, worked there too.
1. Adirondack Daily Enterprise, October 19, 2000