Tuesday, October 7, 2014

117 South Main (South Main Cafe)

117 South Main  -  Photo courtesy of Linda Ruth Schwab

Not long after this former church building housed the New River Trading Company, it transformed into what many people consider to be the best bar and music venue Blacksburg ever had.

If I have the story right, three business fellows (Bob "Bullwinkle" Summerell, Al Freeman, and Fred Blake) shifted from Levi's to Budweisers around 1973, and over the next couple of years the partnerships changed to include Steve McBroom and most importantly Mike Schwab.

By 1975 or 76, Mike Schwab became the sole owner of the establishment which eventually included wife Linda Ruth.  They enjoyed a 20-year run, and the number of little known and well known musical acts that graced the stage is countless.  In the latter years (1984 to 1995) the joint was known as South Main Cafe, but everyone I knew just called it "117".

If you're too young to remember this place, that's a shame because it was definitely the primary gathering place for cowboys, hippies, and everything in between.  I remember the long neck Buds, pinball machines, pool tables, and a balcony above.  It was rustic, but that's the way we liked it.  Today it is home to Cabo Fish Taco.

I know this post is going to fill up with comments.  Looking forward to the reader's own memories of drunkenness, debauchery, and ass-kicking music.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014


Here is a nice old picture of Hardees when it was up next to the old high school on South Main.  Thanks to Brian MacInnis for sending.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Odds & Ends

Here's a few items from the archives, and from several of you readers (thanks for sending these).

A business card from the local band Andromeda.
I remember hearing them play a lot in the Squires Ballrooms, along with another popular local band called Happy.

Playing foozball in the back of Mr. Fooz.  This is me and "Old Man" taking on some unknown opponent.

A schedule of events for Deadwood Days 1979.

A night shot of Peoples Drug Store, in the early days of the University Mall.

Inside the bar called Spankys, located above what is now D.P. Dough on Main Street.  The spot was also home to the Campus Club, and then later (and the last thing to be there) the Ton 80 club.

A poster advertising a really cool place at 209 College Avenue called the Water Closet.

John's Camera Corner on Draper Road.  Even though we're in the digital age, John is still alive and well and still has a camera shop on Draper.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Fringe Benefit

In 1972 local entrepreneur Bev Patterson started a new business upstairs in the old Mill building, later to move it down to street-front at 217 College Avenue.  She named it Fringe Benefit.

This very successful women's clothing and accessories shop was there for more than two decades.  Personally I remember Bev's two white dogs hanging around the shop a lot.

Fringe Benefit was eventually bought by Nancyne Willoughby, and about 9 years ago moved to the old spot where Davidson's men's clothing shop was on Main Street.  Fringe Benefit is still going strong, and is one of the nicest retail shops in downtown Blacksburg.

The picture above is of the original store on College Avenue (sorry it's not a better photo).

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Hokie House

Here's another place that has been around for decades.  Started in 1966 by George Willard, the building was the original bus station which moved to the adjacent corner.  The photo above was taken around 1967.  The Hokie House started life as a luncheonette with about 10 stools lining the counter.  The photo below is more how we remember the place.

The Hokie House was famous for the Hokie Burger, a delicious fresh ground burger served on buttered Texas toast.  At the time I think it was the best burger in town.  Their other specialties included homemade chili beans, vegetable soup, and BBQ.

Julie Willard told me that one of their cooks, a woman named Dolly, was there for 32 years.
Sometime in the 1970's George Willard put on a side addition, and in the rear was pool tables and pinball machines.  I remember shooting pool there and man did it get crowded as twosomes would slap their quarters on the table to challenge the winners.

George sold the business in 1993, but it's still going strong ... now with an upper level.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


Lendy's Family Restaurant - Home of the Buddy Boy Hamburger

(Thanks to Twig Gravely for sending these photos)

I mentioned this place in an earlier post.  Lendy's was a great diner located in front of the Gables Shopping Center right on South Main.  There was also a "Buddy Boy" statue outside that this photo doesn't show.

My friends and I frequented this place a lot, especially in the late evenings when we were in "need" of food.  If we didn't get a full meal, then certainly we ordered the Hot Fudge Sundae along with coffee.

The rear entrance took you to a counter where you could get Kentucky Fried Chicken to go.  Yum.
Other menu treats were their hamburgers, fried shrimp and steak dinners, and Lendy's famous Strawberry Pie made with fresh berries year round.

The wait staff at Lendy's  (I presume)

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Street Scenes

Many thanks to a new acquaintance named Richard Cobb for these great street scene photos.

This was taken standing in front of Heavener Chevrolet (to the left) and looking north.  I don't remember the name of the Shell station, but if you look real hard the sign on the brick building says Blue Grass Market (click on photos to enlarge).  The butcher there was often kind enough to give me scraps to take back to my beagle dog.  Just to the left of that the sign says "Pizza".  Had Backstreets opened by 1979?.... or was this another pizza joint I've forgotten about.

The winter scenes above give a good look at the different businesses that were downtown.