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-----Tafel's Log Cabin & Motel
Algonquin, IL

Tafel's was located at the intersection of Route 31 and Cary-Algonquin Road. The complex began with a small restaurant and grew to include two motels and a swimming pool.

The Log Cabin Drive-In opened in the 1940s and was operated by Ben and Edna Pflaum. A 1939 aerial photograph shows a building of the same size in the same spot, so I believe an existing building was remodeled. Frank and Violet Tafel purchased the property in 1950 and renamed it Tafel's Log Cabin.

True to its name, the original building did resemble a log cabin. Inside, you could find tables and chairs, a service counter and a cozy fireplace. Although it was called a drive-in, there were no carhops. It was strictly dine-in only.

Tafel's was famous for homemade pies, custard and the best hamburgers in McHenry County. The Tafel's Three-Decker Hamburger was slathered in a tasty sauce made from a secret family recipe.

According to a 1951 advertisement, other menu items included toasted dogs, fresh-ground coffee and draught root beer blended with famous Algonquin spring water. The Log Cabin was open daily from 10 a.m. to midnight and on Saturdays until 3 a.m. Carry-out orders were also available.

In 1954, breakfast was added to the menu. Tafel's was very popular with teenagers and was a great place to take a date.

In the early 1950s, a motel was added to the property. Known as Motel Tafel, this building was located along the cemetery boundary to the northeast. It had eight units, a redwood exterior and a penthouse with kitchenette facilities.

1953 aerial view


Major changes took place in the 1960s. South of the restaurant, a set of stone pillars on Route 31 marked the entrance to a dirt road leading down the hill. The Tafels acquired this parcel in the 1950s, and it became the site of the next phase of the business.

First, a heated swimming pool was built in 1960. It was open to motel guests and to area residents for a nominal fee. Locker rooms were located beneath the pool area.

In 1962, a second motel was added. The stone pillars that once marked the entrance to the dirt road became the entrance to the motel parking lot.

The new motel was called The Annex. It had 24 units, free TV, phones, electric heat, wall-to-wall carpeting and ceramic tubs and showers. In 1961, Frank and Violet Tafel took out a chattel mortgage for 20 General Electric air-conditioners, 20 Admiral black & white TVs and one Admiral color TV.

A concrete retaining wall was built at the bottom of the hill, and a set of concrete steps led up to the Log Cabin restaurant. This photo shows the view from the second floor of the new motel, where you can see the retaining wall and original motel.

In 1962, the Log Cabin restaurant was destroyed by fire. An octagon-shaped restaurant with redwood siding was built in its place. I believe the fire occurred in 1962, because the new building is present in a 1963 aerial photograph (shown at left). A small addition to the new building was completed in 1964.

In 1967, the entire parcel was deeded to Fred Allegretti after Frank Tafel passed away. William and Donald Abed signed a contract to purchase the property, but never actually owned it outright. Allegretti remodeled the restaurant and reopened it in 1968 as the Four Horsemen Lounge. This new restaurant was the third location in the Four Horsemen chain, and featured jukebox dancing, live entertainment and a basement dining room used for banquets and meetings.

The Annex motel was renamed the Beau Rivage Motel, and I believe the original motel near the cemetery became the Sky Haven Apartments.

The restaurant parcel was leased in 1973 and became the Peking Palace. It featured live entertainment, dancing, Cantonese and American cuisine.


A fire gutted the Beau Rivage Motel in January 1975. According to a newspaper article, the owners believed the fire started in the southeast corner on the lower level near room 18. The firemen believed it started in the third unit from the north. The strong winds and lack of firestops caused the fire to spread rapidly. Approximately 20 people were evacuated without injury from nine or ten occupied units. Tankers from Cary, Fox River Grove and Crystal Lake assisted Algonquin crews in fighting the blaze for eight hours.

The article named Donald and William Abed as the owners of the motel and adjoining restaurant, although they were only the contract purchasers. The Abeds weren't sure if they would rebuild, and they estimated that their losses would total $300,000 to $350,000. It turns out that they had not maintained insurance on the structure and were not able to rebuild.

The damaged building was torn down. The motel sign remained out front for many years after the fire.

In 1977, Fred Allegretti took the Abeds to court to sever the relationship and acquire clear title to the property.

From 1977 until at least 1988, the restaurant was known as the Eight Immortals, again featuring Chinese cuisine. In the 1990s, it was known as Top Of The Hill and Thirty-One. In the late 1990s, the owners began construction of an outdoor terrace and volleyball court, but this was never completed. In 2000, foreclosure ended the building's history as a restaurant.

"Groundhog Day"

The Bill Murray comedy "Groundhog Day" was filmed in Woodstock in 1992. Several scenes were filmed in nearby towns, including Algonquin. A big sign reading "Punxsutawney" was erected directly across the street from the restaurant, and these screenshots from the movie show the Action News van driving past. A moment in time captured forever!

The Sky Haven Apartments
(formerly the original Motel Tafel)

Driving past the restaurant.
Apparently, it was still a Chinese restaurant, judging by
the blue Pagoda-like object on the roof.
The building still had its redwood exterior.

The restaurant on the left and the stone pillars on the right

Behind the Punxsutawney sign, you can see the
stone pillars and the motel sign. The motel burned down
in 1975, but the sign was still out front in 1992!

The sign is aqua blue with white letters that read
"Restaurant Lounge." A big yellow arrow points to the long-gone
motel. Too bad we can't see the entire sign!

The "Restaurant Lounge" portion of the sign can still
be found, partially buried in the weeds (see the
last photo on this page)

The property today

Since 2001, the property has been the site of Fantasy Festival. This costume and magic shop is owned by Ron and Bernice Ferraro. They were very helpful in providing me with information about the property, and they also gave me permission to take the photos below. I also received a great deal of information and assistance from the Algonquin Historic Commission. Thank you!

2002 aerial view

While the restaurant changed hands, the former motel and swimming pool properties continued to decay. In the early 2000s, the original motel near the cemetery was torn down and the land was deeded to the city of Algonquin. The foundation of the Annex motel can still be seen, although trees have reclaimed most of the spot. The pool was also filled in during the early 2000s, but the remains are still present. The underground locker rooms were also filled in, but intrepid photographers at Abandoned Illinois have climbed over the mounds of dirt to document the interior (membership required).

2009 aerial view

The following photos were taken in March 2009....

Stone pillars leading to the former motel parking lot

View from the pillars on Route 31.
This view matches the 1975 fire photo above.

Foundation of the motel office

Retaining wall

Fence surrounding the former swimming pool

One of the lamps that surrounded the pool.
They were perched on top of the stone columns.
You can see them in the 1960s pool photo above.

They filled in the pool, but left the ladder!

Partially-buried metal sign reading "Restaurant Lounge."

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