White Lodging is taking over the Lighthouse Restaurant in Cedar Lake, a destination fine dining eatery with a sweeping view of the lake, after the death of billionaire Dean White.

White founded the nautically themed white-tablecloth restaurant, known for its USDA prime beef steaks, flown-in seafood, and boat-shaped bar, in 2009. He died at the age of 93 in September.

Merrillville-based hotel company White Lodging, which was founded by Dean White's son Bruce White and is one of the largest hotel development companies in the United States, is taking over the Lighthouse Restaurant at 7501 Constitution Ave. Times' readers have repeatedly voted it the Region's top steakhouse and top fine dining restaurant.

White Lodging is acquiring the restaurant from Dean White's Whiteco Industries. The terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

On Jan. 1, White Lodging will become the new owner and manager of the 11,600-square-foot Lighthouse Restaurant, a popular wedding reception and special events venue that draws diners from throughout Northwest Indiana and the Chicago South Suburbs. The restaurant on Cedar Lake has private dining facilities for baby showers, retirement parties and other special events, and a seasonal patio for lakefront dining in the summer.

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“Restaurants are one of our competitive strengths. The Lighthouse is a great restaurant, and we could not be more excited to be a part of it,” said Jean-Luc Barone, White Lodging’s vice president of food and beverage. “We know how much the patrons love this restaurant, and it’s our desire not to mess with what works, but rather, to continue building on the legacy, and where appropriate, enhance their experience."

White Lodging operates 36 other restaurants, but they're all located within White Lodging hotels. The company manages Marriotts, Hyatts, Hilton Garden Inns, Renaissance Hotels, Starwood Hotels and other top hotel brands all across the country.

"Although food and beverage are key differentiators to White Lodging, the Lighthouse Restaurant is the only standalone restaurant White Lodging plans to manage in the near future," Director of Communications Kathleen Quilligan Sebastian said.

No changes are immediately planned in the operation of the restaurant. White Lodging is retaining the staff, will honor all gift cards and won't change any already scheduled private events. The company doesn't plan to change popular dishes, like Midwestern corn-fed prime beef steaks, Florida red grouper, fresh Atlantic salmon, macadamia crusted walleye and yellow lake perch.

White Lodging operates 165 hotels and has invested $2.5 billion in hotel development across the country over the last 30 years.


Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.