Sunday, September 26, 2010

Black Cat Restaurant and Cabins

(Click on images to enlarge)

Here's the most recent useless thing I bought on eBay.

I don't know anything about this Black Cat restaurant and motel. The postcard is undated, but judging by the cars, well, hmm, maybe it's mid-1950s?

Here's the back of the postcard:


How recently has anyone bragged about having hot and cold running water?

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[8/15/2011 update] One of the grandchildren of the Black Cat's proprietors has kindly written in to give me the story of the Black Cat. Reed writes:
I lived near or at the restaurant on several occasions. The first time was in 1951-52 then again in 1956-57. I can still remember the fire at the oil refinery at Whiting. We could see the black smoke for days from the restaurant.

The Black Cat was built and owned by my Step grandfather and grandmother Paul and Elva Allen. When they arrived in Hobart in the early 40's Paul worked in the Steel mills in Gary as well as buying a small diner made from a streetcar that sat on the corner of Missouri and US route 6. My grandmother worked in the diner as well as working in the munitions plant out toward Laporte, I'm not sure but I think it was Kingsbury. Paul bought ground next to the diner and started building the Black Cat. For several years they lived in a apartment connected to the restaurant which also served as an office for the cabins. In the early 50's they built a home up the street from the restaurant.

The original plan for the restaurant was a truck stop. They had great food which was almost a prerequisite for truckers to stop. Cabins on 2 sides of the restaurant. Across the parking lot to the east was a service station (Cities Service), repair and towing service for trucks. In the 40's and 50's very few trucks had sleepers on board so the cabins were a natural addition to the truck stop. With the proximity to Gary and Chicago as well as being on a major east west highway the business stayed very busy. They were open 24/7 365 days a year from day 1 to the end. With having good food it more or less also became a good family restaurant.

From what I remember the Black Cat was in operation from the late 1940's till the mid 1960's. It's location was the reason it closed. I don't remember the mailing address but it was located on US route 6. I guess it is probably old route 6 now. It was on the south side of the road. About 100 feet to the east of Missouri Street. With that location in mind, it is probably right under present I-65 at old US route 6. My grandparents' home was I believe in the 3700 block of Missouri. The Federal Highway Department if my memory serves me correctly came in and told my grandparents that they were putting in a cloverleaf for a road and they were taking the restaurant and they would pay a set amount and they had to sell. So that was the end of the Black Cat.
There you have it, folks. So next time you're driving along old Route 6 (aka 37th Avenue, aka Ridge Road) and you pass under I-65, look to the south and think about the Black Cat.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Black Cat was owned and operated by my Grandparents

Reed Conner