Monday, April 20, 2009

Main Street Stories: 406 S. Main

In the summer of 1927, excitement was bubbling over in Rochester as all eyes watched the progress of the construction of the new South Hill bridge. Business owners were looking forward to the completion of the new concrete span, which would finally provide easy access to town for autos approaching the village from the south. A flurry of fix-up and modernization projects erupted along the Main Street store fronts, and one of the projects was a brand-new brick building at 406 S. Main.

The Clarion announced on July 1, 1927 that the old frame building adjoining the Masonic block to the north was being razed to make way for the construction of a modern building. The old building had been the home of the recently-departed Joe Fabiano fruit market. The new structure, a project of Milton H. Haselswerdt and Louis E. Becker, was designed to house a new restaurant. Haselswerdt and Becker were both officers of the First National Bank of Rochester, and doubtless saw the opportunity for business growth that the new bridge would provide.

In February 1928, the formal opening of the Merchant's Restaurant was advertised. Charles W. Asher was the proprietor, and promised excellent service, wholesome food, and as an added bonus, a powerful receiving set installed in the building so that patrons could enjoy the best radio programs on the air as they dined.

After the Merchant's Restaurant departed, several others followed. 406 housed The Village Grill, one of Harold Bebout's eateries, and was also one of the locations of the Four-O-Six Bar. (Not to confuse its regular patrons, the Four-O-Six kept its name when it moved on to another Main Street address.) In the 1960s, the address was the location of Wilhelm's Bavarian Rathskeller. Later business tenants included The Learning Ladder, Sunny's Hallmark, and most recently, the Wild Wings Gallery. The building is currently vacant, and celebrates its 81st birthday this year.

Photo: This photo from the early 1960s shows 406 S. Main as it looked when Bebout's Restaurant occupied the building.

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