Elmhurst Businesses

Q: I was driving on North Avenue in Elmhurst recently, and came upon this amazing sign that said "Mack's Golden Pheasant." What can you tell me about the history of the restaurant?
A:
Mack’s Golden Pheasant Restaurant, located at 668 W North Avenue, recently celebrated its 65th anniversary. It opened in 1948 and is one of the oldest family-operated restaurants in Du Page County.

Q: Didn't there used to be a lumberyard by the tracks near Elmhurst College (I remember it from my childhood)?
A:
Elmhurst College purchased the Hammerschmidt and Franzen Co. lumberyard (pictured at left) in 1977 and leased it out until 1988 when the property was demolished. It was on the southwest corner of Park and Prospect Avenues.

Q: My business is located in the Elm Square building. Do you have any history on it?
A:
The building (pictured at right) was under construction from 1952-53 on the southeast corner of York and Schiller Streets. Walgreens Drugs was the first-floor tenant from the time the building opened until circa 1989. The upper floors were offices for professionals. The first floor was essentially empty 1989 - circa 1994 when the Jewelry Exchange moved into the space. The upper floors were faced in glass circa 1994.The Community Bank of Elmhurst opened a City Centre branch on the first floor of the building in 1998.

Q: I recall that there was a golf driving range on the north side of Lake Street between York and West. Do you have any information on this?
A:
The Elmhurst Press had an advertisement for Wilson Crain’s Stop and Sock Driving Range one block west of York and Lake in July 1957. The facility offered miniature golf, a driving range, private golf lessons, and golf equipment.

Q: I remember a dance club on the northwest corner of North Avenue and Route 83. Can you provide the name?
A:
The location at 675 W North Avenue had several businesses over the years, including businesses (in alphabetical order): All Stars Sports Bar and Grill, Bojangles, Great American Outdoors, La-Z-Boy Furniture Galleries, McGregor’s, Shadoz Café and Nightclub, and WE Auto Parts Mart.

Q: Back in the ‘80s, there was a restaurant next to Mack’s Golden Pheasant on North Avenue. My family and I went there on many occasions when I was younger. I recall the sign having a duck on it, but I cannot remember the name of the restaurant.
A:
Café Parisien opened in 1972 and was located 696 W North Avenue. They were known throughout the region for their signature dish - duck flambé. The restaurant closed circa 2000, and the building burned in 2002.

Q: A friend remembers shopping at a grocery store on the north side of St. Charles Road just east of Route 83 during the1950s. Do you know the name of it?
A:
It may have been High-Low Foods (shown at right), which was at that location and opened in 1954.

Q: My parents disagree about the name of a bar that used to be where the Arena is currently (2015) located. Do you know of any of the previous bars that used to be there?
A:
The Arena is located at 630 W Lake Avenue Previous establishments at that address include Hudson's, The Hurricane, and Oliver's Pub.

Q: I worked for a department store on York Road in the 1980s. The top level was for teens and Madonna's "Like a Virgin" record was playing there. I believe the store was Ruby's?
A:
Ruby’s, later known as Ruby’s Family Fashions, opened at 149 N York Street circa 1946. It opened as a store that sold women’s and children’s clothing, but later added menswear. It was a family business founded by Irvin Ruby and run by his widow, Gertrude, following his passing. Son, Jerry Ruby, joined the firm in 1962.Ruby’s closed in 1999. As for your reference to Madonna music playing there, a Chamber of Commerce publication ran an article about Ruby’s (July 21, 1993) which noted “The Elmhurst Ruby’s junior department features fun shopping for the younger set, enhanced with neon décor and music videos.”

Q: What is the name of the old banquet hall that was at the corner of North Avenue and York Street?
A:
The Ambassador Restaurant opened on the southwest corner of North Avenue and York Street (110 W North Avenue) in 1979. When the business opened, they served lunch, dinner and banquets. It became The Ambassador Banquet Halls circa 1985. The business closed in January 2001.

Q: What was the name of the diner directly south of the York Theatre?
A:
There have been several businesses in that space (pictured at right), including: Andes Chocolate Shop, Aunt Jenny’s Snack Shop, Elm Café and Restaurant, Elm Snack Shop, Old Elm Café, Robbins Candy Shop, York Candy Shop, York Confectionery and Yorkhurst Family Restaurant.

Q: I am trying to find information on Swanson’s Hardware Store.
A:
The business started as Walter Swanson Feed Store and Hatchery, where customers could purchase several varieties of baby chicks. The store was ¾-mile west of York Street with entrances on both Butterfield Roosevelt Roads for many years. Over time the store added a full line of hardware stock and toys. When the business closed in 1959 it was known as Swanson’s Feed Seed and Hardware Store and had been in operation for twenty-eight years.

Q: I remember going to Soukup’s Hardware, and my dad always said that if you couldn’t find something at Soukup’s, you wouldn’t find it. Can you tell me anything about this business?
A:
Soukup’s Hardware Store (left) operated at 116 N York Street in Elmhurst from 1920 to 1998. The building was expanded and remodeled over the years to handle the growing inventory of merchandise including toys, hardware, appliances, home decor, lawn and garden care, gifts, tools and sporting goods. The building was razed in 1999.

Q: What was the name of the independent book store located on Park Avenue in the late 1960s and '70s?
A:
I believe you are referring to Bican’s Book Shop. After being at 107 Adelaide Street and 118 S York Street, the book shop moved to 112 W Park Avenue on January 1, 1972. It closed in 1986.

Q: Can you provide the history of the former bank building on South York Street (the 500 block)?
A:
York State Bank opened at 529 S York Street in 1927. It remained there until it moved to a new building across the street at 536 S York Street in 1951. Today Carousel Florists is located in the former bank building at 529 S York Street.

Q: Can you tell me when the Elmhurst Sears store was built and when it closed?
A:
Sears opened a retail store (pictured at left) on the northwest corner of York and Second Streets in 1937. The store carried a full range of merchandise including sporting goods, hardware, appliances, radios and automotive supplies. The store grew with the community, and by 1951 the store’s 35 employees served a 25-mile area. The Sears store in Elmhurst closed in the mid-1960s after Sears opened at Oak Brook Shopping Center. Unique Travel Service now (2012) occupies the building.

Q: I am looking for information on a Tea Room that was in Elmhurst in the late 1920s. It was run by my grandmother, Leota Arnold. I think it was near train tracks.
A:
According to an article in the Elmhurst Press (April 8, 1929), Mrs. Arnold became the owner/operator of La Casa Tea Room at 117 E First Street in 1929.

Q: I recall a small grocery store that used to be on Addison Avenue around Second or Third Street. What was its name and when did it close?
A:
I believe you are referring to Market Place at 178 Addison Avenue. It was a popular independent grocery store that was in operation 1975 - 1994.

Q: Does anyone at the museum remember the store Robertson and Ruth?
A:
The Knill family of Elmhurst started a part-time business in their home in 1954. Known as Robertson and Ruth, it eventually grew to a national mail order business with two showrooms; one at 395 W Lake Street in Elmhurst and one on Ogden Avenue in Downers Grove. The business provided catalog sales of general merchandise. The company closed in January 1978.

Q: Do you have any info about the Cottage Hill Café on First Street?
A:
The Cottage Hill Restaurant at 117 W First Street opened in 1929, serving a daily Business Lunch for 50 cents. (Elmhurst Press, June 21, 1929) According to a history of the business (The Elmhurst Story, 1960), the restaurant installed air-conditioning in 1936 when it was a new innovation. Customers came from miles around to experience the comfortable setting. The owners added a dining room in 1936 to accommodate their customers, and in 1950 the owners modernized the establishment. The Lions Club met there for lunch every Monday for many years. Other regular diners included members of the Elmhurst College staff, business groups and religious organizations. The Cottage Hill Restaurant closed circa 1982.

Q: Do you know anything about the architect who designed the Mahler Block in downtown Elmhurst?
A:
The Mahler Block at 124-126 W Park Avenue (pictured at left), was designed by Oak Park architect H. G. Fiddelke and built circa 1902. Fred Mahler had his tailor shop in the back of the building. Other businesses included Mahler’s Drug Store, Park Avenue Variety Store and a barbershop. There were family apartments on the second floor and a large hall for club meetings, recitals and social gatherings to rent as needed. As of 2012, the building is home to “That” Coffee Shop.

Q: Where was the Sky-Hi Drive-In originally located?
A:
The Sky-Hi Drive-In Theater was on the southeast corner of Butterfield Road and Roosevelt Road. When it opened in 1948, it was the first drive-in movie theater in Du Page County.

Q: What is the history of the closed Stevens Steakhouse? I remember my grandparents often going there.
A:
Stevens Steakhouse (pictured at left), 476 N York Street, opened circa 1958 on the southwest corner of York and Lake Streets. A few years after the restaurant opened, I-290 opened close-by, increasing the restaurant’s visibility and business. The family-owned restaurant was open seven days a week, offering daily lunch and dinner specials. The restaurant offered live entertainment, banquet facilities for 200, and rooms for business luncheons. The restaurant closed in 2006.

Q: When was the business district on Spring Road developed?
A:
The Spring Road business district developed as the population grew in West Elmhurst. Robertson and Young developed and sold lots in four Spring Road Subdivisions circa 1912 - circa 1920. The Chicago Aurora and Elgin RR had a stop at Spring Road, and the area was annexed to the City of Elmhurst in 1915. All of these elements resulted in the growth of the Spring Road business district. The Elmhurst Press (August 19, 1927) featured an article about the economic and physical growth in the Spring Road area, noting nearly $3 million in construction of homes and commercial properties. The 1928 Elmhurst City Directory listed 22 businesses in the two blocks of Spring Road north and south of the railroad.

Q: Do you have any information on the name of a Kaiser-Frazer car dealer located on Spring Road in the late forties and early fifties? My Dad bought Kaisers from him during that time because he was worried that the Korean War would cause shortages similar to WWII.
A:
Spring Road Motors (pictured above right), 465 Spring Road, was a Kaiser-Frazer dealership operated by Jack Moore in that time period.

Q: I recently found a bottle in my backyard with the name "Rabe's Dairy"on it. What do you know about the dairy?
A:
Rabe’s Dairy (pronounced “rabies”) was one of the earliest home-based industries in Elmhurst. In 1910, German immigrant and dairy farm manager Fred Rabe opened his own family-operated dairy in basement of his home. Located at 139 East First Street, Rabe’s Dairy bottled and delivered approximately eight cans of milk per day. A stable was built on the premises to house horses and delivery wagons, and the milk was acquired from dairy farmers in the Elmhurst vicinity. By 1917, growth of the business led to the building of a separate dairy facility at 135 E First Street and expansion became necessary within five years. The plant was upgraded to modern standards, and according to a local newspaper account in the late 1920s, the dairy was “one of the most modern in northern Illinois.

Q: What was the name of the restaurant located where the Silverado now stands?
A:
The following businesses have been at 447 Spring Road before the Silverado Grill - not necessarily in this order: Florentine House, The Great Italian Food and Beverage Co., Greenbriar Coffee Shop, Hennessy’s, Le Bon Vivant, Nicky’s Restaurant and Sandy’s of Elmhurst.

Q: What was Industrial Drive before businesses moved there?
A:
Generally speaking, the area now known as the Elmhurst Industrial Park in northwest Elmhurst used to be mostly open, undeveloped land, with a few homes and farms. Although the property was zoned for light industry in the late 1950s, development began in the early 1960s.

Q: When did Ollswang's department store (which was located just south of the train station) close?
A:
Ollswang's Department Store was sold on October 20, 1961 to Mid-States Department Stores of Milwaukee.

Q: What is the history of 126 N York Street?
A:
In 1900 German immigrant Fred Wandschneider built the Hotel Edelweiss at126 N York Street. Fred and his wife, Anna, operated the boarding house and bar until their passing, and then their children ran the business. At some point the Hotel Edelweiss closed. In 1926 Christ and Christine Chipain opened Elmhurst Fruit Market at 126 N York. After the repeal of the 18th amendment in 1933, liquor was added to the merchandise and the store was called Chipain Fruit and Liquor Store. Circa 1947 the store became Chipain’s Sporting Goods, a wholesale and retail sporting goods store. (see Q and A below) Since the early 1990s, the space has been occupied by a photography studio. According to the museum’s records, the original store front was set back seven feet from the property line and had wooden steps leading into the building. The building still has arched windows at the second floor with keystones, brick lintels and recessed panels over the windows.

Q: What was the sporting goods store in downtown Elmhurst during the 70s and 80s?
A:
I believe you are thinking of Chipain’s Sporting Goods (pictured at right), which was located at 126 N York St. circa 1947 - 1994. They had a full line of sports equipment including school jackets (Willowbrook, Addison Trail and York); trophies; guns and ammunition; fishing equipment; track shoes, hockey equipment; swim suits, jump ropes, gym shorts and shirts, gym bags; table tennis paddles and camping gear.

Q: I purchased a really cute vintage china water pitcher with matching lid. On
the bottom it says: "Midwest China Company, Elmhurst, Ill." Could you provide any information on the company?
A:
The Midwest China Company opened at 355-357 N York Street in September 1936. The company, which did both retail and wholesale business, had 1,800 feet of floor space covered with displays. According to the Elmhurst Press the store carried “the newest innovations in dinner sets from the leading American potteries. Also included in the firm’s stock on display are the latest creations from abroad.” (September 24, 1936) By 1942 the company had moved to 296 W Lake Street. Elmhurst residents Fred Lester Stoker and Sue Stoker owned the store for thirty years. The postcard at right is from the EHM collection.

Q: I was wondering if you had any information of previous businesses at 152 N York - the current home of the Elmhurst Olive Company. I seem to recall a jewelry store at that location now stands?
A:
There have been several businesses at 152 N York over the years, particularly because there was retail space on the ground level on York Street and offices upstairs. Some of the businesses that have been at the address are, in alphabetical order: Delmar Studios (photography), Elmhurst Jewelers, Elmhurst Jewelry and Optical Shop, The Elmhurst Leader, Irving Giese, Illinois Liquidating Corporation, Let’s Have a Party, London Jewelers, McGrath’s Elmhurst Jewelry and Optical, Piper Studio of Photography, Public Service Company of Northern Illinois, The Shopping News, Frank Snite, Theatre Historical Society of America, George Wermuth and York Studio (photography).

Q: Do you have any information about the Weber’s Bakery Building on York?
A:
The G. Weber Building, 110-112 N York Street (pictured at left), is one of the earliest buildings remaining in Elmhurst’s central business district. Built for Gottfried Weber circa 1906 in a Queen Anne style, this commercial block retains many original features. The building served as a bakery for almost 60 years. As of 2012, the building houses Tannin's Wine Bar and Boutique.

Q: I just completed restoration on a 1964 Corvette and was told it was sold in 1964 from Zepflak (sic) Chevrolet in Elmhurst. Can I get the original address or any other information for the history of my car?
A:
Zepelak’s Chevrolet opened on Roosevelt Road, ½ mile west of York Street in July 1963. A full-page advertisement in the Elmhurst Press (July 18, 1963) urged readers to “See Us At The Newest - The Largest - The Most Beautiful - The Greatest Chevrolet Dealership…ZEPELAK’S".

Q: What business used to be at 119 N York Street?
A:
The large brick building, which still stands at 119 N York in 2011 was built circa 1955. Since its original construction, it has housed W T. Grant Co. (pictured at right), Aetna Life and Casualty Co., Montgomery Ward Insurance Group, The Signature Group (the direct response subsidiary of Montgomery Ward and Co.), Lucky Strike, which was renamed Seven-Ten Lanes, and currently, Fitz’s Spare Keys.

Q: I remember a little grocery store on York Street called Heinemann's. What can you tell me about it?
A:
There were two Heinemann Stores in Elmhurst, owned by brothers. Louis Heinemann had a meat market at 135 S York, and Edwin Heinemann had a general store across the street at 124 S York. The general store at 124 S York closed and was razed in 1922. Two of Louis Heinemann’s daughters took over the store at 135 S York after their father retired, and that business, known as Heinemann Food Shop, was in operation until the 1960s.

Q: My neighbor and I have different recollections of the location of the National Store and the Jewel Store at York Street and Butterfield Road. Please clear up our grocery store mystery.
A:
The National Food Store opened at 942 S York, in the newly constructed Elmhurst Shopping Plaza, circa 1958 (pictured at right). Kush’s Food Store moved into the space in 1978. In 1986 the Jewel Store, located at 1058 S York, wanted to relocate one block north to the 5-acre shopping center at York and Butterfield, where there would be room to build a Jewel-Osco rather than just the supermarket. The plan was approved, the shopping plaza was rebuilt and Jewel-Osco had its grand opening in July 1987.

Q: What is the history of the Elm Roller Skating Rink?
A:
Elm Roller Skating Rink opened at 375 W Roosevelt Road at Route 83 in 1956. It was owned and operated by Bill and Lynn Fuchs. The rink had a distinctive sign (pictured at left), and featured a snack bar, public skating, lessons, a retail skate shop, repair services, and live music provided by a 1,000-pipe organ. At its peak, as many as 600 people would crowd onto the rink for a fun evening of skating. The rink closed in 1989, making way for Lexington Square of Elmhurst.

Q: I read your history of the Elm Roller Skating Rink. Can you tell me what became of the pipe organ?
A:
According to a newspaper article (Elmhurst Press, April 18, 1989) the business owners allowed a part-time organist to have the organ as long as he dismantled it and removed it from the building. When the article was written, he and some friends had been working for 5 weeks to take apart the organ with some pieces weighing more than 500 pounds, and the work was not complete. His plan was to restore the organ.

Q: I would like to learn more about Halvey’s on Spring Road As a youngster, I spent a great amount of time (and change) there.
A:
Halvey’s Sunset Dairy Store, at 512 Spring Road, was owned and operated by Helen and Oliver (“Ollie”) Halvey. It opened circa 1956 and closed circa 1976.

Q: Several years ago there was a restaurant/coffee shop located on the west side of Route 83, south of North Avenue. It wasn’t there very long, and I believe it burned. What happened to it?
A:
Inge’s Loading Zone Restaurant was at 270 N Route 83 in 1979. In November 1979 the Loading Zone opened a German Gasthaus (pub), later known as Inge’s Gasthaus and Restaurant. It was owned by Inge and Chuck Tombaugh. The building was destroyed by fire in May 1980.

Q: What can you tell me about Hank’s Corner on Spring Road?
A:
Hank’s Corner was located at 500 Spring Road. It was owned and operated by Henry and Evelyn Pilarski from 1957 -1972 and continued under different ownership for a few years after that. The store had a soda fountain, and they sold party favors, school supplies, greeting cards and sundries. Other businesses located at 500 Spring Road in the past include Carter’s Corner, Cinderella Beauty Shoppe, Elmhurst Cyclery, Elmhurst Office Supplies and Typewriters, Namely Yours, Mr. G’s Snack Shop and Hieronymus Drug Store. Currently (as of 2010) Prudential Prairie Path Realtors is at 500 Spring Road.

Q: What was the name of the department store at St. Charles Road and Route 83 around 1960?
A:
E. J. Korvette. A permit for a $1,600,000 shopping center at St. Charles Road and Highway 83 was issued by the City of Elmhurst. The 18.8 acre tract already occupied by the Hi-Lo Food Store was to include a department store, furniture store, patio shop, and automobile service shop. The developers were the Korvette Company, a retail operation. (Elmhurst Press, Looking Back Ten Years, June 14, 1972) E.J. Korvette opened circa 1962 and closed in 1977.

Q: When did Hamburger Heaven open?
A:
Hamburger Heaven, 281 N York, opened in May 1948. An ad in the Elmhurst Leader newspaper announced the opening of Hamburger Heaven and its menu “Featuring the Double Deck Hamburger and Richardson’s Draft Root Beer.”

Q: What shops were located at 100 N York throughout the last century?
A:
An imposing bank building stood on the northwest corner of York and First Streets circa 1909 until 1931 when a developer purchased the prime commercial property. The City issued a building permit for a one-story terra cotta and black granite building, which housed Walgreen Drug Company as the anchor store. As of 2012, the building (shown at right) houses Polay’s Home Décor, Just for Fun, Meeder Industries, and Sunshine Nails.

Q: I lived in Elmhurst in the early to mid ‘80s, and I graduated from York HS in 1986. I remember there used to be a pet store downtown on Addison Avenue., just north of Al’s Hobby Shop, where my sister and I both worked. Can you tell me the name of the store?
A.
According to the museum’s business file, it was Animal Island at 131 Addison.

Q: When I was a college student back in the '70s, we celebrated the end of each semester with a trip to Stone Cottage Pub. Could you tell me what happened to Stone Cottage?
A:
Stone Cottage Pub, built circa 1933, was also known over the years as Phillip's Stone Cottage, Vaughn’s Stone Cottage Restaurant, Petersen’s Stone Cottage, Stone Cottage Pizza, and Crossroads Tavern. The popular restaurant stood at 617 W North Avenue - on the north side of North Avenue, a few lots east of Route 83. A favorable review by Tom Smith appeared in the Elmhurst Press in 1981, “For those who love thick crusts, piles of cheese and mounds of toppings in a cozy, old-fashioned pub atmosphere, there really is only one place for pizza, the Stone Cottage Pub in Elmhurst.” (February 27, 1981) The review continued, “The Stone Cottage is set in the style of an old pub, with wooden floors, walls made of logs, fire places and even mounted animals. Lights are tuned fairly low to maintain the mood of a log cabin. The atmosphere is relaxing and casual.” When the Crossroads Tavern moved out of the building in 2004, the property went on the market for commercial development, and the building was razed in 2007.