The Testa family arrived in Chicago from Sicily in 1895. Patriarch Michele Testa, Sr. was then just ten years old, and part of an industrious, hard working family. By the time he was in his twenties, the young man owned and operated his own sandwich shop in the nearby summer resort of South Haven.
Mike moved to Palm Beach, Florida 1921. He opened a small soda fountain in the old Garden Theater from December 1921 until November 1929. Testa's Palm Beach began with seven seats, one table for four and a small table for two.
Mike’s timing was right. This was the year Henry Morrison Flagler, founder of Standard Oil, helped turn the Atlantic coast of Florida into a destination for sun-seekers. The rich and famous travelled down in their opulent private railroad cars to avoid the chilly north. The town of Palm Beach was just ten years old and the Great Depression still loomed ten years in the future.
Soon the first of several million guests found their way to Testa’s. When the weather was cool hot soups were served, or a beef or lamb stew, to help overcome the chill in the air. People would drop by in their bicycle-powered rolling chairs on their way to or from the Beach Club (Bradley’s Casino). Guests from the old Breakers Hotel or the Royal Poinciana Hotel would stop in for a limeade, a soda, or sundae. It was a small-town feel.
Directly across our narrow Main Street were the Florida East Coast Railway tracks. The Palm Beach Station was down the street and the Police & Fire Departments were next door to our present location. Mrs. Roche had a Cake Shop and her coconut cakes were world famous. Young Joe Testa sold her the coconuts for five cents each but he first had to remove the outer hull which was quite a feat for a small boy.
Over three quarters of a century, illustrated by the photographs in our family scrapbook, reflect the wonderful existence we have shared in Palm Beach. It is on display in our main dining room, take a look when you are in town.
Testa's Restaurant is more than where we've earned our living, it's our life. With our neighbors we've shared great times together, raised our families, and fought hand-in-hand the storms and fires which have touched our community. We've lost loved ones and have shared the joys of birth.
We hope you enjoy the experience our past has provided. We express a warm thank you for joining us in our Palm Beach or Bar Harbor location, or here online.
-The Testa Family