Where the Past Meets the Present
The Sandy Chanty Seafood Restaurant

The Sandy Chanty Seafood Restaurant is located at 5457 Lake Road East, Geneva-On-The-Lake, Ohio.


A sea chanty is defined in Webster’s dictionary as “a tune sung, especially by sailors, to set the rhythm of united physical labor”. The rhythmic chants of the oarsmen of ancient galleys evolved into work songs that helped the sailors get the job done safely and efficiently on the rough seas.

Patt Bowen, proprietress of the Sandy Chanty Seafood Restaurant is no stranger to hard work herself. Raised near Fleet Avenue in Cleveland, Patt is of German & Polish descent. Ironically, her maiden name, Koszewski, means “fishbasket” in Polish. Her father, Marion, published Cleveland’s very first entertainment magazine in the 50’s. Knightlife became the precursor to Scene Magazine. Patt graduated from high school at the age of sixteen and entered college, becoming one of the youngest college freshmen ever in the state of Ohio. She attended Cooper School of Art and the Cleveland Institute of Art. Drawn toward working with natural materials, she majored in the study of textiles and dyes. One of few women in the state interested in lithography, [the art of printing] she submitted her prints and was awarded a scholarship. A special ceremony was held downtown Cleveland which was attended by Spiro Agnew, then vice-president of the United States. Her interest in history inspired her to learn the lost art of lacemaking, and she apprenticed under Arlene McKennel from Brecksville. Today they are two of only 16 lacemakers in Ohio. A woman of many talents, Patt went on to attend Lakeland Community College and worked in private health care as an activities professional, using her background in Art to provide stimulation and therapy to elderly and terminally ill patients. During this time, she wrote a book with these patients in mind. Titled The Treasures of My Life, it is a self-journal in question and answer format, with a 100-year timeline, complete with pockets to hold memorabilia.

Patt is a formally trained chef, attending Paganinni’s, where she specialized in food history, edible flowers, and mycology [the study of mushrooms]. She acquired her love of cooking from her mother, Mildred, who had a vast collection of cookbooks. She has lived in Perry for the last seventeen years with her three children: Holly, age 23, Amber, age 20, and Eric, age 14. She became involved with Champions Garden Towne in her hometown of Perry when she lectured at their herb festivals, and became their in-house chef, developing and preparing recipes and giving cooking demonstrations. Bowen is a master of the old-style method of cooking [over a wood fire or in a stone oven]. When Champion’s closed last winter, she began writing a recipe book pairing Lake Erie wines and cheeses. But she abandoned that project to pursue her long-time dream of opening her own upscale seafood restaurant.

While searching around for a location, Bowen saw the potential for new business in the small resort town of Geneva-on-the-Lake. With the opening of the new Lodge and Conference Center at the State Park, people from all over are discovering Geneva-on-the-Lake. Being a history buff, Patt was also drawn to the quaintness and charm of the village.

Geneva-on-the-Lake is actually Ohio’s first summer resort, dating back to 1869 when a public picnic grounds was opened at “Sturgeon Point”. By 1905, picnic grounds had turned into campgrounds, tents gave way to primitive cottages and twenty-some boarding houses filled to the rafters each summer as the well-to-do from Cleveland, Youngstown, and Pittsburgh sought refuge from their smoke-congested cities during the Industrial Revolution. John D. Rockefeller, Harvey Firestone, and Henry Ford camped and fished together annually at Geneva-on-the Lake. By the 20’s, boarding houses had evolved into full-scale hotels. Tennis courts were added, along with roller-skating, miniature golf, and dancing at the Casino, Pergola, and Pier dancehalls. New boat docks, horse stables, and a state-of-the-art nine-hole municipal golf course were added in the 30’s.

GOTL would have remained a private sanctuary for the rich and privileged had those three gentleman campers, Rockefeller, Firestone, and Ford not dabbled in a new invention called the automobile. With the advent of the “motor car” in the 40’s, America’s working class took to the road. GOTL’s mile-long entertainment “Strip” was lined with the Fords, Oldsmobiles, and Packards of blue-collar folks from a Tri-state area who flocked to the resort for the clean air, beaches, and dance halls. Jimmy Dorsey, Ozzie and Harriet Nelson, Lawrence Welk, Cab Calloway, and Kay Kaiser all played the Pier Dance Hall in the heyday of the big bands.

In 1946, “Pop” Pera purchased the “Flying Scooters”, and the present-day 18-ride Erieview Park was born. For decades the vacation spot grew with new vitality. Shops lined the streets and the arcades and midways offered games of speedball, pinball, and Shoot-Til-You-Win. How many readers remember the old-time shooting gallery on the Strip, the one with the gas flames shooting up on either side of the noisy belt-driven procession of stylized animals----- little ducks, fish, and elephants that were shot at with real .22 short bullets?!? [The “shotguns” were chained so you couldn’t turn them on each other!] Well, imagine this writer’s surprise on my first visit to the Sandy Chanty, walking through the door and seeing that very same shooting gallery, used as a backdrop for the “Sandbar” area of the restaurant! The hidden treasure was found, quite by accident, when Patt Bowen began renovations last March. In search of storage space for the restaurant, she tore down a false wall and discovered a huge room stacked to the ceiling with relics and remnants from the storied “Strip”, among them the long-forgotten shooting gallery. It is unclear how it got there, but it was unused and gathering dust for at least several decades. Further investigation revealed that it was built in 1928, originally came from Coney Island, and is one of only five like it in the world still in working order. [Actually it did require a little belt repair to get it going again, but was easily restored]. With a flick of the switch, it springs to life every half hour during business hours, laboriously groaning and clanking along just as I remember as an awe-struck kid tugging on my dad’s pant leg as he shot at the targets trying to win me the biggest teddy bear.

The shooting range isn’t the only unearthed treasure at the Chanty. The tables, chairs, and booths all came from the Ashtabula Hotel, as did the huge mirrors mounted on the wall at either end of the bar. Their smoky pink hue compliments the walls, painted in subtle colors of the Lake Erie sunset and covered with 125 lbs. of sand. The bar itself contains 300 lbs. of sand, along with family trinkets and seashells. The surface of the bar features pictures of mermaids and copies of original sea chanties dating back to 1465---1600’s, from the archives at Cambridge University. Nautical memorabilia and artifacts abound, along with antique instruments, clothing, and books. Blueprints for the ill-fated Edmund Fitzgerald hang on one wall. Authentic chanties and other seaworthy tunes provide soft

Patt Bowen designed everything herself, from the placemats---- a buried treasure map with “X” marking the spot [latitude 41:51:37 .768N, longitude 80:57:5 .602W—location of the Sandy Chanty], to the menus that look like a treasure chest. Most items on the menu are named after something on a ship. Canon Balls are sweet onions stuffed with meatballs, drenched in sweet and spicy bar-b-q sauce, and topped with apple bacon. Ship’s Wheel appetizer consists of bits of Brie cheese topped with spiced pecans and cranberries marinated in Firehouse Reflections wine. Another dish using local wine [Harpersfield White] is the Stargazer Lavender Chicken Salad, a gourmet’s delight, served on a bed of fresh pineapple.

In keeping with Patt’s respect for all things natural, she uses a lot of honey, lavender, herbs, and even flowers in her cooking. Blue Moon is an appetizer of stacked Beefsteak tomatoes layered with sweet onions, gorgonzola cheese, organic lettuce, and balsamic vinegar & oil. Apple Salad combines thinly sliced apples and carrots tossed in honey lavender dressing served over baby spinach. The emphasis is on seafood, with gruyer swordfish, curried catfish, and salmon fume’ all offered as dinner entrée’s. The Mess Kid is a huge helping of giant shrimp, mussels, clams, crab, cod, capers and black olives in a tarragon wine sauce over fettuccine pasta. For the vegetarian, try the cremini mushroom burger filled with falafel blend and crusted with pepita coating. Sandy Chanty Chowder, a creamy tomato bisque with various types of seafood, is served daily, along with specialty soups such as a delicious lobster bisque. Pat’s signature dessert, the Sandy Chanty, is to die for---a mouthwatering bread pudding made from angel food cake, white chocolate, and coconut served on a raft of rum sauce. Another interesting dessert is the Lake Erie Ice, made from an historic ice cream recipe dating back to Jamestown which uses ½ pint of black and tan chocolate ale and is topped with pralines. Sorry, you must be 21 to order this one!

Breakfast is served every day until 1:00 p.m., offering such delicacies as smoked whitefish on toast, herring in wine sauce, and asparagus frittata, along with the usual fare of eggs “done how you like ‘em” with apple bacon or sun-dried tomato sausage. Patt Bowen is a most gracious hostess, skillfull enough to accommodate anyone’s special diet needs. Catering for parties is also available. Indoor seating capacity at the Chanty is only fifty, so reservations are recommended for large groups. Kitchen hours are 10 a.m. til 10 p.m. seven days a week through the summer season. The Sandbar stays open later, offering 22 different “Beers of the World”, including international ales and micro-brews. Live entertainment is featured every Saturday night.

A “Treasure Hunt Chanty Festival” is planned for the first weekend of October, with live entertainment including Alex Bevan. A “Write Your Own Chanty” contest will be held in conjunction with the festival. The challenge is to write a sea chanty pertaining to Lake Erie, Geneva-on-the-Lake, or the Sandy Chanty. Grand prize is dinner for four, courtesy of the Chanty. Watch the Voice for further details on this event still in the planning stages.

Patt Bowen plans to stay open through December, closing for January, and re-opening February 10th just on weekends til Mothers Day. With word of mouth spreading like wildfire the news of her unique and delicious cuisine, I don’t think she will have a problem keeping her cozy little establishment full of satisfied patrons. This enterprising woman has combined her love of history, nature, and food to create an eclectic ambience that is refreshing and new to our area. Geneva-on-the-Lake is experiencing a resurgence in visitors this summer season that hasn’t been seen since the early 70’s. So come see what Ohio’s premier vacationland has to offer, and stop in at the Sandy Chanty [on the north side of the Strip] for a fine dining experience you’ll want to tell all your friends about!!!

Written by Cat Lilly