Celebrating 80 Years of Family Traditions on Long Island

Zorn’s of Bethpage was one of the largest growers of eggs, chickens and turkeys on Long Island prior to opening the doors to the public in 1940.

old building poultry farms

Zorn’s of Bethpage has been making delicious home-made food since 1940 when Peter Zorn opened his first retail store on Long Island. His vision was to offer wholesome, made from scratch meals using the freshest ingredients that busy families could take home with them, creating one of New York’s first take-out services.

In the 1930s, prior to the retail business in Bethpage, the Zorn’s family owned 7 poultry farms on Long Island selling chickens & turkeys to wholesalers in Queens and the Bronx. At the time the Bethpage area was primarily farmland.

In 1940 Peter Zorn opened a small retail store and began selling fresh turkeys and other grocery staples, but it was in 1949 when he was the first to offer rotisserie chickens cooked over an open flame. A pioneer in retail take-out food, he blended his own spices, creating original recipes to expand his menu to include fresh homemade salads, stuffing and gravy to compliment his rotisserie chicken.  A short time after, he added his soon to be famous southern fried chicken and bar-b-que spare ribs. This turned into a thriving take out business.  His menu kept growing as he met his customers’ needs. Before long he had a complete catering menu serving Long Island families all year long.  Take-out meals and catering were new concepts in the 1950’s and became very popular on Long Island. Many tried to imitate this concept, but Zorn’s Poultry Farms was always number one.

Today Zorn’s of Bethpage is owned and operated by Merrill S. Zorn, Peter Zorn’s only granddaughter, who grew up working all aspects of the family business. “We use the same recipes and cooking methods as my grandfather. Some of our traditions are looked upon as old fashioned by today’s standards, but this is how we maintain our high quality and consistency. The value of our generous portions, personalized customer service, quality ingredients and our family recipes have made our business a success” said Merrill Zorn “There is always a Zorn in the kitchen making sure that the original recipes passed down from my grandparents, are still prepared with the same quality and pride that they were 80 years ago!”

Zorn’s of Bethpage has transformed several times over the past 80 years. For decades it was home to a functioning poultry farm, and thousands of chickens and turkeys. Most recently in 2019, Merrill Zorn took on a massive undertaking by moving the entire business into a brand new 8,000 sq. ft. store at the same address in Bethpage. She was personally involved in the design of the new building and listened to customers ideas and suggestions resulting in a beautiful new space with a dining area inside and out, as well as bathrooms for their patrons.

The new building pays tribute to the history of Zorn’s with historic photos and memorabilia used as décor. Merrill added “We kept our story alive not just for our family, but for our community and our staff, and we couldn’t be happier with how well the transition went, and all the love and support we were shown throughout the process”

Prior to the big move which miraculously occurred in one weekend just in time for Mother’s Day, Zorn’s of Bethpage made a very large donation. Trays of food, fresh milk, eggs, and perishable items were loaded into vans by staff and volunteers. Zorn’s of Bethpage has been donating food to The INN, Island Harvest and other organizations for over 25 years. “Zorn’s of Bethpage has always been committed to giving back to organizations in support of hungry families,” said Ms. Zorn. But that is only one small piece of giving. Merrill Zorn is an avid supporter of numerous charities on Long Island. From assisting in providing meals for Veterans on Thanksgiving to raising money by rappelling 170 feet down the side of building for the EAC network, Merrill is always on the move and contributes to as many causes and organizations in the community as she can.

Now having successfully served old traditions for all the major holidays in the new store, Zorn’s of Bethpage is ready to continue to celebrate 80 years in 2020 by doing what they always did, prepare fresh quality food every day to make sure the Zorn’s legacy continues to thrive through the decades.

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