Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Holiday Inn Motel – Part 2

That's the Holiday Inn Motel at the bottom of the photo, with Baumhart Road and the Ford Plant at the top
(Photo Courtesy of the Black River Historical Society
The Holiday Inn Motel enjoyed a boom time of sorts when the Lorain Ford plant was built nearby in the late 1950s.

The motel and its owner are featured prominently in the article written by Dan J. Warner below, which appeared in The Chronicle-Telegram on February 11, 1957.

First 'Boom' Signs Appearing Now
New Ford Plant's Neighbors Anticipate Business Surge


BROWNHELM – Tap, tap, tap. Itchy fingers are tapping grocery store counters, bars and motel office desks along Lake Rd. near the site of the new Ford Motor Co. assembly plant, waiting to beat the drums of business which are predicted to yield a loud and ever vibrating, boom, boom, boom.

Not one bar, tavern, grocery, service station or motel owner along an approximately five-mile sector of the road predicts anything but the loudest, biggest and most profitable echo of a boom that ever bounced from business place to business place.

How can they lose, they say, with some 1,500 construction workers moving in to build the large plant this spring and a maximum of 4,500 permanent workers moving in to run the plant when it is complete?

In one place, the fingers have already stopped tapping the counter and are busy hustling food and liquor to the some 100 construction workers who have already started working at the plant site.

Richard F. Konik, owner of the Holiday Inn Lounge and the Holiday Inn Motel, paused momentarily from serving thirsty customers at a crowded bar to tell a reporter that "business is booming."

And he wasn't kidding either. It was mid-afternoon, the "slow" time during the day, and empty glasses were piling up in front of him as quickly as he could fill others.

With a broad smile Konik said business at the Lounge had increased "two or three times" in the last several weeks and that he is going to have to build more units onto his motel to accommodate the increased demand for living space by the construction workers.

He said he has already made plans to add six efficiency units to his motel, which already houses some 78 workers. One section of the Motel has been rented to the O'Connor Construction Co. for office purposes. Its parking lot is constantly filled with cars bearing Indiana license plates, home state of the company.

In the restaurant and bar, Konik says he has been forced to add five additional employees to handle the increased business, which is heaviest during meal times.

Asked whether he thought business would continue to improve, Konik shrugged his shoulders, smiled and said, "I hope so."

Other established owners along Lake Rd., however, had a more definite optimistic view into the future.

Joseph Povich, owner of the Conestoga Tavern, paused from reading a paper in his empty tavern, to say he is expecting "big things."

The boom in business he is sure is coming, according to Pavich, after a summer when local establishments had practically no business due to repair work on Lake Rd and unseasonal weather.

Povich explained that most of the places along Lake Rd. depend on vacationers for most of their business and that last summer there was very little travel along the road due to construction.

The tavern, he said, will not be his only business venture to benefit from the new plant. He said he had purchased some real estate some time ago to be resold when things started booming. "And now it's coming," he said.

Trailer Camp is Full
Another busy businessman is Carl Johnson, owner of Johnson's Restaurant and Trailer Camp, who said that he has had 40 to 50 request for trailer space he can not fill.

Johnson also said that the restaurant has experienced some increased business as a result of construction work at the plant site. He plans to sell his places, now, while the price is high.

"It's getting to be too much work," he said simply.

Curly DeBracy, owner of DeBracy's Bar, an establishment which has only been open a month said he is expecting "a lot of business from the plant."

Curly admitted that he had the bar and short-order restaurant built onto his driving range as a result of the new plant.

Motel Business Up
"About a 10 per cent increase" in business was reported by Frank DeRose, owner of the Village Motel, who also predicted boom times.

"It's just starting now. It'll be great this spring," he said.

The other business owners, such as Mrs. Richard Kish, of Sunnyside Grocery and Motel, and Mrs. Ruth Winland, manager of Bohac's Mobile Home Court, all predict that business is going to boom and stay booming.

If the predictions come true, it looks as though this area of Lake Rd is no longer going to be "just for tourists."

Next: the Holiday Inn Restaurant


Brian Finley said...

Hi Dan...I can neither confirm nor deny your rather damning evidence that the Holiday (Inn) pre-dated my step-father's-father's purchase of the erstwhile hash-house on Lake Road. However, it was pretty thrilling to read the article where Richard F.(EVERYBODY called him Dick) Konik is quoted in the Chronicle-Telegram.

I was an infant in 1957, and I don't think my mother had gone to work for him yet; I'm pretty sure she started working at the Holiday Inn around 1960 or 1961. Dick & my mom married in 1966, a few months after the first stretch of Route 2 opened up between Kolbe and Baumhart Roads. It would be several years before west-bound traffic would entirely bypass the Holiday Inn, but it was the beginning of the end of Dick's booming business.

Dick was something else. A big guy, he was like a giant to me when I was a kid. Gregarious and very loud, he completely lacked what pre-school teachers everywhere refer to as an "inside-voice". He would have made a bang-up drill instructor for the USMC, but he had an abundance of affection for people and a gift for showing folks a REAL GOOD time. Dick Konik laughing sounded like a donkey falling from a skyscraper.

To see him come alive on the pages of a Chronicle article from 56 years ago is astonishing. He was such a vivid personality, I can see & hear him like it's yesterday. Thanks very much for digging that out of the archives.

Dan Brady said...

Hi Brian!

Thanks for all your great comments and background information on the history of your stepfather's businesses. I'm glad you enjoyed the old C-T article featuring your stepdad! He sounds like quite a character!

Mike and sometimes Rachel said...

I second all that ... this is an amazing discovery for me ... just this week I published a book, GROWING UP IN AMHERST, OHIO ... Dick is a primary figure in the stories.