Out of the Past: The Circle Inn, Athol Springs

By Steve Cichon

The Strohm family owned The Circle Inn on Lakeshore Road from 1939 until 1963. Before the new Lakeshore Rd. cut through the property, The Circle Inn was famous for what many said was the best view of the lake and the lakeshore back toward Buffalo.

Frank Strohm behind the bar at The Circle Inn in Athol Springs in 1946. (Buffalo Stories archives)

The place was one of a handful of taverns and clubs which were right in the vicinity of that infamous  “go-to” spot for television news broadcasts trying to show Western New York just how filled with frenzy the winds are coming off the lake.

The Circle Inn was directly across the street from Red Top Hot Dogs— not far from Hoak’s, where that now-famous car became encased in ice during a storm in January, 2016. The photo went viral, and had national news outlets like ABC visiting Hamburg.

The infamous frozen car in the Hoak’s parking lot—not from from where The Circle Inn stood.

At one point in 1950, the Strohms were offering “the only lakefront properties available between Buffalo and Evans, only 9 miles from Lafayette Square.” His property was divided into 20 smaller lots for summer homes.

After the Strohm family sold the business, the restaurant was known as The Seacrest Supper Club. The building burned down in 1968.

Frank Strohm lived in Hamburg from 1936 until he retired to Florida in 1963. He died in Boca Raton in 1971. While Frank is shown here behind the bar, it was his wife Mary who was the tavern’s legal owner. Living to see four great-great grandchildren, she died at the age of 101 in 2002.

This story originally appeared in The Hamburg Sun.


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Steve Cichon

Steve Cichon writes about Buffalo’s pop culture history. His stories of Buffalo's past have appeared more than 1600 times in The Buffalo News. He's a proud Buffalonian helping the world experience the city he loves. Since the earliest days of the internet, Cichon's been creating content celebrating the people, places, and ideas that make Buffalo unique and special. The 25-year veteran of Buffalo radio and television has written five books and curates The Buffalo Stories Archives-- hundreds of thousands of books, images, and audio/visual media which tell the stories of who we are in Western New York.