Southtown (1954)

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26 Comments

  1. mramsey680:

    Marcia Pehlman Ramsey
    Coldwell Banker Apex Realtors
    Dallas TX
    214-632-5225
    mramsey680@aol.com

    When my parents were first married (Dutch and Flo Pehlman – 1-15-1938) they lived above the South Town Grill.

    MPR

    • Hello, I am the current owner and have lived here since 1988! It was the worst part of town after the Rodney King riots in the early 1990’s, and has been fighting its way back ever since. We just appeared on the cover of Springfield Business Magazine for adding a Record Store, Dumb Records, to our little community of artist, musicians, and skaters. The Southtown Grill is now the home of the worlds oldest skateboard park, Skank Skates International. If you have any old photos please share them with me! It will help bring this place back to its former glory!

  2. It looks so much nicer back then, I’m completely surprised that Skanks Skates was a restaurant.

    • Hi Ryan, Check out the tin ceiling the next time you come in to ride. In those days it was an effective fire barrier to keep the 2nd level safe long enough to get people out. When I replaced the floors upstairs I found a second fire barrier under the floor that consisted of about an inch of sandy plaster! The contractor had written his name in it and the date was 1899! I forget his name but it was Mac???????? something. It is still under there, not five feet from where I am sitting.

      geo

  3. Mike:

    I remeber the large hill that was here between 9th & 11th. I was just learning to drive (a stick) and I had to go up this hill from a dead stop.

  4. bill schwarz:

    I LIVED WITH MY GRANDPARENTS ABOUT A BLOCK FROM THIS CORNER ON PINE ST. WORKED AS A BUSBOY AT THE SOUTH TOWN GRILL WHEN I WAS JUST IN HIGH SCHOOL – FEITSHANS. WENT TO BOOKER’S TAVERN WITH MY GRANDPA AND LATER WHEN I WAS AT SJC. IT BREAKS MY HEART TO SEE WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE TODAY. IF THIS IS WHAT WE CALL PROGRESS – I FIND IT HARD TO FATHOM.

    • Hi Bill, I wish I could have experienced Southtown in its prime. Consider yourself lucky. Do you have any photos or memorabilia? I have been restoring this neighborhood for 25 years and have nothing but the photos in the Sangamon Valley Collection for inspiration.

      geo

  5. Barrie:

    Love this pic! My grandparents owned Butcher’s Tavern which you can see right down the side of the building. Thanks.

  6. YVONNE BUTCHER:

    BARRIE, this was also one of the first taverns to open after prohibition was repealed. Your mom and dad lived in the apartment above the tavern for 5 years, from 1957 to 1961. Before it was a tavern it was a savings and loan and was the first roberry of a bank in Springfield.

  7. Barrie:

    Does anyone know how I can get a print of that pic of Southtown?

  8. Clark Mefford:

    To Bill Schwarz from Clark Mefford [FHS ’61]
    I too worked at Southtown Grill as a busboy. It was during 59-60. The owner was Chet Kwiet or Qwiet…don’t recall the spelling but when he wanted his wife he would yell “Kwiet please”
    They were good employers and I enjoyed the experience.

  9. Mike:

    My mother was an office manager for Cable TV on South Grand in the 1970’s. I remember going with her for lunch at this restaurant.

    • Hi Mike, do you remember the year it closed. I have heard that they widened the road by eliminating the parking, and that was what sent the corner into decline. We are still fighting for more parking down here.

      geo

  10. Linda Carlton (Kwiatt):

    My parents owned the So. Town Grill. I virtually grew up in the restaurant and the neighborhood. They sold the grill in ’69 and retired to Florida. I live in Oregon now. I would love to hear from any and all of you that have memories of the grill and the neighborhood! My e-mail address is lscarlton49@live.com.

    • Hi Linda, I am sitting upstairs just beyond the head of the stairway in what is now my home. The skylight in this room had sunk almost to the floor when I bought the building, and had to be removed, but I can only imagine how beautiful this place was in it’s day! I still bathe in the claw foot tub at the back or east end of the building. When I first saw it it had the roof laying in it, and you could see the sky above! Please contact me!

      geo

    • Jack M.:

      Stumbled onto this site 12/27/2014.
      In 1954, at the age of fourteen, I applied for a working permit to buss tables for Chet and Helen Kwiatt at the Grill. The Grill was always immaculate and if business was slow, Chet used to make me run through the viaduct to check the parking lot at the Georgian Restaurant on the corner of 9th at South Grand to see if they were busy! My family resided in the 1100 block of South 11th, about 1-1/2 blocks North of the Grill. In addition, I delivered the State Register and was in Bookers Tavern, Butchers Tavern, Madisons Furniture, Southtown Radio Shop, etc., etc., a minimum of six days a week. I also scrubbed the floor at Charlies Barbershop, formerly Beerup’s. Charlie spent a lot of time in Butchers Tavern next door!
      Chester was a hoot……..Helen was tough but fair. They were one of my original mentors.
      Sweet memories!
      Jack

  11. Laurel Coutrakon Rice:

    I know Linda K. from Vachel Lindsay Grade School. Greetings Linda. My grandparents, James and Antonella James met on this corner in the early 1920’s. My grandmother was working at Miss Miranda’s selling thread, and my grandfather worked at the Sugar Bowl, which I think was on the corner at the time.

    • Hi Laurel, How charming! The corner is jumping tonight with kids riding their skateboards and BMX bikes on the ramps, watching local bands play, and just hanging out with their friends. It is a far cry from the blight that plagued Southtown a short while back. Any photos?

      geo

  12. Mary Wheeler:

    The Southtown Grill………YUMMMM. I especially remember going there every Sunday after church with my parents and the very famous “Lite Out — Pie Out” sign on the wall!!

  13. Susan:

    I thought the Sugar Bowl was on the corner of So Grand and Glenwood or State…..

  14. Tommy:

    11th & South Grand Ave….What a photo!

    This brings back many, many memories from my childhood (45-57 yrs. ago).
    I lived just east of here (13th & S. Grand – across from Castor’s grocery store [does anyone remember that little grocery store??]).

    Yes, I spent a lot of time from my youth on “the avenue”.
    Rode my bike up and down this street countless times.

    As an 11-12 year old, I was a paperboy for the Springfield Register (the afternoon edition of the city newspaper) and my route included 11th & S. Grand. I always made sure to carry extra newspapers with me so I could sell them in Booker’s tavern, the South Town Grill, the Den and the little barber shop next door.
    Butcher’s tavern was a good place to sell newspapers too. The barkeeper was always nice to me and would often have a free iced 7up in a glass ready and waiting for me on especially hot days.
    My grandparents (Tom & Mary Sullivan) knew Augie Butcher a long time. I remember going into Butcher’s with my parents and grandparents when I was a kid.

    There was a dime store that was located on the corner across the street from the South Town Grill as well. Isn’t that something? A dime store….today we have dollar stores.

    The Lincoln Library was also located along here – spent a lot of time in there too.

    As you can probably tell, this picture opened up a virtual flood of memories.
    Unfortunately, if you go into the neighborhood today….you’d never recognize it.

    Thank you very much for posting the black & white photo.
    My family moved away in 1970.

  15. Dave Kane:

    I grew up near Bunn Park, and I remember a few times my mom taking me to eat at the Southtown Grill on the corner of 11th and South Grand — just across 11th from Booker’s Tavern, aka Ye Olde Watering Hole. And the old South Branch of Lincoln Library was in the middle of the 1100 block of South Grand East, north side of the street. I never got to see a movie at the Southtown Theatre on the south side of the street. Oh, well….

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