Thursday, May 24, 2018

Former Baetz Dairy Bar – “New" Then & Now

Since I started doing this blog back in 2009, I’ve done lots of “Then & Now” photo compositions.

I guess that it’s inevitable then, that sooner or later I would be updating some of the “Now” photos – relegating them to lowly “Then” status!

Here’s a good example. Baetz Dairy Bar and the Lorain Arena has long been a favorite topic on this blog since 2010, when the property was for sale.

Over the years, I've found several photographs of the buildings, showing how the property evolved.

Here’s the Grand Opening ad for Baetz Dairy Bar, which ran in the Lorain Journal on June 9, 1949.

 Here’s an ad that ran in the Journal a few months later, in Sept. 1949.

And here’s a 1955 aerial view, after the Lorain Arena was built right behind the Dairy Bar.

Here’s how both buildings looked when the whole complex was for still for sale in 2011 (below).

Today, the property has been home to Rockwell Metals since May of 2012. Happily, the company has removed the Kerr Beverage signage and given the building an attractive makeover.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

New Sandy’s sign – June 17, 1968

Last week I did a post on the Grand Opening of Sandy’s in Elyria back in May of 1962.

Regular blog reader Lisa left a comment on that post, recalling that the restaurant sign with the likeness of “Sandy” used to slowly twirl around, simulating a Scottish dance.

Well, Lisa has a good memory.

Above is a photo of the sign in front of the Lorain Meister Road outlet that accompanied a promotional article in the business pages of the June 17, 1968 Lorain Journal. The article noted, “Ray Voit, manager, is particularly proud of the new Sandy’s sign in front of the restaurant which is decorated with American flags, American beauty roses and evergreen shrubbery."

It’s kind of cool seeing that Sandy's sign again, and the Pure gas station next door. It’s such a familiar site if you grew up in that part of Lorain, like I did.

Here’s a 1955 view of that same Pure gas station, when it was all alone on Oberlin Avenue.

I’ve mentioned several times how back in the 1960s, Sandy’s was our fast-food hamburgers of choice. The closest McDonald’s was down on West Erie, so Sandy’s was much closer being only a few minutes away.
Not that we had Sandy’s very often. It was a rare treat. I do remember at least one or two times that Grandma came over for a visit (in her big ol’ 1963 Buick LeSabre) and brought a bag of Sandy’s hamburgers and french fries. I used to pick the pickles off mine, and generously gave them to her. “Thanks for the hot, wet pickles,” was her unenthusiastic reply.
To see one of the surviving twirling Sandy signs up close, click here to visit the always interesting website.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Skylite Memories

July 7, 1966 Journal ad
A few months ago, I received a nice email from a gentleman named Scott. He had found my blog while looking for pictures of some of the long-gone Lorain establishments that he remembered from when he was growing up.

One of these places was the Skylite bar, which in Scott's memories has come to symbolize a very special time in his life in Lorain.

"I lived in Lorain most of the first sixteen years of my life. I have always known the Broadway Building and Bear Furniture and, in later days, the YMCA,” he reminisced. "The 333 bar was a nice, close familiar place and had hot meals at dinner time."

But it was the Skylite bar, two doors south of 333, that left a big impression on Scott.
"The Skylite was a decent bar with about four or five regulars, my grandfather included. All the barmaids were like family to everyone, and especially kept an eye out for me as a youngster.
“The owners were Milt and Fran Del Monte, and Mr. Lerner. From what I could gather by sight, it had a sign saying formerly Kramer’s and was probably one of the booming places in better days. The exterior had been updated with a brick front and aluminum door and aluminum sealed picture windows.”
Scott is right about the bar previously being known as Kramer’s. Its last listing in the city directory by that name was in the 1960 edition.
1962 Lorain City Directory listing
Scott has vivid memories of the inside of the Skylite.
"The interior had a lunch counter installed in the early sixties to replace the tiny one by the bathrooms and the pool table under the namesake Skylite,” he explained. "It was originally a domed steel framing with wire reinforced glass, light filtered by multicolored ceiling panels. That and a small portable fountain were the only upgrades besides its earlier painted over embossed scenic wall panels beside the old straight back booths. Behind the booths, pool table and bathroom was a hallway to the back door through an old open storage to the right and a closed in area left.
"I had heard that this was probably one of the city’s first bowling alleys, and that it or another bar may have been the home of Andorka’s first bowling lanes. The Skylite and the regulars like Red Mercurio, Eddy Olson, Jo Torma, Betty Buga, Carl Greiss and others who were friends of my grandfather, and second family to me. This was a time and a place, though not at its best, that was safe; they protected their own." 
Scott shared an example of the kindness and generosity of one of the Skylite owners.
"The old man Mr. Lerner, when he left, said I was always to have free fountain 7 Up, a nice gesture to remember him, and think of us in good hands as he retired.”
The Skylite especially triggers warm memories of Scott's grandfather.
Scott noted, "“He was the kindest and most respectful person in my life that let me be with him to escape my not fitting in well.”
Spending time at the pool table taught Scott about life.
"I learned to shoot pool pretty well and not to judge or insult people, but to many times be a gentleman when others were not – with terms of ‘please' and ‘thanks' and yes and no, Ma'am or Sir."
"I got to be pretty good at pool by 13 and even beat my grandfather a few times,” he confessed. "One night I was off the table as Red and Eddy were going to play nine ball. I was told I couldn’t play, because they were playing for money, a $2 each pot. So I put in my two bucks and after getting the eight and nine in, two games in a row, they'd had enough. Sorry I spoiled their fun, but I just wanted to play.”

Looking back, Scott realizes that the Skylite was the backdrop for a special time in his life. He observed, “These times with these good folks are a nice reminder of my grandfather, my youth and a different time in Lorain."
Special thanks to Scott for sharing his memories.
1977 Lorain City Directory listing

Monday, May 21, 2018

New Marathon and L-K for Amherst – May 1968

I admired the architectural rendering of the proposed Marathon Oil service station shown in this small article that ran in the Lorain Journal on May 30, 1968. The station was being planned for Amherst at the corner of Leavitt Road and Cooper-Foster Road.

What's interesting is that the illustration includes the new L-K Restaurant to be built just to the south of the gas station on Leavitt. I had completely forgotten about that particular restaurant and the once ubiquitous L-K chain.

Mr. Cleo Ludwig and Robert Kibbey founded their Ohio-based restaurant chain in either the late 1930s or early 40s, with the first one in Marion, Ohio.

Here’s an undated postcard showing an L-K Restaurant in Marion, Ohio.

At one time, there were more than 150 outlets, with as many as 90 in the Buckeye State. Many of my older readers remember eating at one.

Here’s a link to an article about the mid-80s sale of the restaurant chain.

Today, while the L-K on Leavitt Road in Amherst is long-gone (a Taco Bell sits at its old location), the Marathon station is still there. Today, however, you’re more likely to get a coffee or snack there as opposed to an oil change.

Friday, May 18, 2018

The Passing Scene – May 1968

I wasn’t quite done cleaning up these The Passing Scene comics in Photoshop® when I wrote about the Ahoy Lorain feature earlier in the week. But they’re ready now, so here they are: all four Passing Scene strips that ran in the Lorain Journal back in May 1968 – 50 years ago.

There’s no earth-shattering local news being parodied in the May 4, 1968 edition, but there’s a few innocent gags that would be considered mildly sexist today.
The May 11, 1968 strip includes a caricature of Ohio Governor Jim Rhodes (who looks a bit strange without his signature thick glasses) and a reference to Lorain passing a school bond issue at long last.
The “bridge to nowhere” over State Route 2 makes an appearance in the May 18, 1968 comic. (Hey, my brother mentioned this very comic in a comment he left on that past blog post about the bridge.)
Lorain City Schools and the Ford Plant are the subject of gags in the May 25, 1968 edition. The school gag is pretty appropriate today.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Elyria Sandy’s Opens – May 1962

Fifty-six years ago this month, the first area Sandy’s held its Grand Opening in Elyria the weekend of May 19 and 20, 1962. The ad above ran in the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram on May 18, 1962. (Lorain’s West Side wouldn’t get its own Sandy’s until late June 1965.)

Anyway, the article below from the same edition of the Chronicle-Telegram of May 18, 1962 tells the story of the Elyria store.

Thrift and Swift will open Sunday

The new Thrift and Swift Drive-In restaurant will have its official grand opening Sunday.

The new business, located at 443 Cleveland, is operated by the Thrift and Swift chain, which has 47 other drive-ins in the country.

“Miss Sandy,” a beauty queen, will be in charge of the affair which will feature the Oberlin College Scotch Bagpipers.

“Miss Sandy” is the chain Trademark. The company’s headquarters are in Kewanee, Ill.

The modernistic building is constructed on a lot just east of Olive St. on the south side of Cleveland St. with a frontage of 165 feet. Maximum depth of the lot is 250 feet.

The restaurant’s chief attraction will be its 15-cent hamburger, manager Phil Lunt says. There are three self-serving windows and the drive-in will be open from 11 a. m. to midnight weekdays and until 1 a. m. Fridays and Saturdays.

There is room for 60 cars on the large, asphalt parking lot. The restaurant will employ between 20 and 25 persons.

Ceramic tiling decorates the exterior with Douglas fir pylons supporting the roof. Cooking equipment is all modern.

Andrew Allan, Jr., 807 Washington Ave., was the general contractor for the building.

The chain is operated by the Northeast Ohio Co. of which Robert Meeder, Mansfield, is president. Richard Fowler is secretary-treasurer. Lou Wenger, Mansfield; Henry Huber, Mansfield; Dr. John Dawe, Wooster; Dr.Charles McAlister, Wooster, and Robert Weaver, Mansfield, are board members.

Contractors for the Sandy’s drive-in included Lorain Glass Co. Inc. (all glass & blazing); Swart Signs (pylon sign, all building signs, all neon borders); Walt Kokoski Masonry; Ternes Plastering (waterproof stucco); Nate & Co. (all painting); Don Leuszler Roofing; Herman Ostergaard Plumbing; Novak Electric; W. G. Walker Co. (ceramic tile); Nelson Paving Co.

Today, a CVS pharmacy occupies the former Sandy’s location in Elyria.

(Courtesy Google Maps)

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Bob Evans to Enter Restaurant Biz – May 1968

The sign in front of the Amherst, Ohio restaurant
Fifty years ago this month, Bob Evans Farms, Inc. finalized its plans to enter the restaurant business. Here’s the story as it appeared in the business pages of the Lorain Journal on Thursday, May 30, 1968.

Popular Ohio Sausage Maker Plans Restaurant Chain

Plans for the entry of Bob Evans Farms, Inc., into the fast-food restaurant business have now been made final and according to Robert Evans, president, the first unit will be built in Chillicothe, with anticipated opening on Sept. 1. A second unit, planned for opening in Columbus in early 1969, is now in the formative stage.

The Chillicothe operation will be the first fast-food restaurant featuring fresh (Farm Boy) and smoked (Smoky Boy) sausage sandwiches. The two-story building, combining Early American and Midwestern architecture, is designed by Coburn Morgan Business Interiors and is built by Don M. Sussey Co., both of Columbus. The parking area will accommodate approximately 50 cars.

Bob Evans Farm Foods, Inc., is a subsidiary of Bob Evans Farms, Inc., and other officers in addition to Robert Evans are: Robert J. Wood, executive vice president and general manager, and Larry Corbin, operations manager. Advertising for the operation, whose headquarters are at 3776 High St., Columbus, will be handled by Byer & Bowman Advertising Agency, Inc., Columbus. The new company will also manage the restaurant now located on the homestead farm in Rio Grande.

In response to numerous inquiries from interested parties regarding franchising, Evans says: “We are working with consultants, who are now making a survey of the potential franchising aspects of our new venture, and no decisions will be made until the report is completed and studied. Our basic objective in entering the fast-food business is to explained the pork sausage market in general.

“Inasmuch as the Bob Evans Farm Sausage is now one of the leading sellers in its marketing area, it seems a logical step to widen the appeal by making sausage sandwiches readily available to the public at conveniently located fast-food restaurants.

It’s interesting that in its infancy, the Bob Evans restaurant chain saw itself as a fast-food business with the focus on selling sausage sandwiches. Today, it’s hard to think of the after-church brunch favorite as a restaurant selling fast food.

The Farm Boy® mentioned in the article is still on the menu, alongside non-sausage sandwich fare including chicken, ham, pot roast and turkey. But I always order sausage when I visit a Bob Evans Restaurant; just wouldn’t be right not to.

Bob Evans Restaurants has had an outlet on Griswold Road in Elyria since about 1976. The present restaurant at that location is actually a newer version, having replaced the original one sometime in the 1990s.

Here’s the current version of the restaurant as it looked this past weekend. As you can see, the newer building appearance has been simplified from the original, ornate design.

I remember applying for a summer job as a bus boy there either in the summer of '76 or ’77. The person who interviewed me told me that I was going to have to get a haircut if they hired me, and that my hair could not extend below my collar.

Click here to visit the history page on the Bob Evans website.

UPDATE (May 22, 2018)
Longtime contributor Jeremy Reynolds emailed me recently about this post. He wrote,"Was just having dinner at Bob Evans in Amherst when I noticed your blog from earlier this week about the chain. 

"In case you want to add any more info to the post, the Amherst Bob Evans opened up in Sept 1987."

Jeremy even sent me the link to the article in the Amherst News-Times of September 30, 1987 announcing the opening (below).

Thanks, Jeremy!