Sunday, April 3, 2016

Rossow's Coffee Shop

Here's another matchbook cover.

2016-4-3. Rossow coffee 001
2016-4-3. Rossow coffee 002
(Click on images to enlarge)

I do not know when Rossow's Coffee Shop opened, nor how long it operated — not long, perhaps, since it eluded the memories collected in 1979.

The shop was owned by Annie Rossow, and staffed by two of her daughters, Lillian and Grace, as evidenced by this entry in the 1940-41 City Directory:

2016-4-3. 1940-41 directory

So they were living in Hobart, but I cannot find them anywhere in the 1940 census. By that time Anna was a widow; her husband, Theodore, had died in 1936.

The coffee shop was located in a narrow building that stood where the north part of Kellen's flower shop is now. Eldon Harms tells me the building was so narrow that you could just about stretch your arms out to the side and touch its two interior walls at the same time. (The 1922 Sanborn map isn't clear on that dimension.)

In cold weather, Eldon used to stop in there after working a shift at NIPSCO, to warm up with some of their hot vegetable soup. The Rossows also made their own pies fresh every day. One row of small tables stood along an interior wall, with room to walk along the other interior wall. At the back was a small counter, perpendicular to the interior walls, with a few stools in front of it. You could eat there, or at one of the tables.

That narrow building can be seen in a few of the photos linked in the 342 Main Street entry of the Downtown Hobart 1979 blog:

2016-4-3. 1 342 Main
(Click on images to enlarge)
The image above and the two below are courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

2016-4-3. 2 342 Main

2016-4-3. 3 342 Main

The middle photo, taken during the Hobart Centennial celebration, is interesting because it shows an "EAT" sign hanging out over the narrow building. And then there is this photo, which I have scanned from the April/May 2011 edition of the Generations magazine, where it is credited to "the Niksch family":

2016-4-3. Rossow coffee 003

Per Eldon Harms, those two ladies are (left to right) Grace and Lillian Rossow. Lillian appears to be dressed for a centennial celebration, doesn't she? On the other hand, I can't find a listing for Rossow's Coffee Shop (or for any Rossow) in the 1947 telephone directory. Maybe the town had some sort of old-timey-days festival at another time.

The former Rossow's Coffee Shop, along with its neighbor to the south, was demolished to make way for the flower shop — built in 1969, per the Lake County records.


Mj Lence said...

I remember this place, late fifties, my sister (5yrs older than me) used to hang out there....took me a couple of times........don't remember the name of it, but they used to call it "The hole in the wall.

Ainsworthiana said...

In a 1956 directory I find a listing for Shelby's Lunch at that address. I can't find any later 1950s directory.

Anonymous said...

It was a coin shop from the early 1960s until whenever it closed and Kellen's Florist built.
It had one huge storefront window section that was a big curve, all in one piece. Must have been an after-school hangout in the 50s, like Pete's across the street.