The café-deli is the longtime dream of Karen Mohney, who has been cooking and serving food for the public for almost twenty years, and her son Andrew who has a strong interest in local history and its architecture. Karen’s wish was to open a unique and inviting family friendly gathering place where folks could enjoy an eclectic atmosphere along with good times and good food, thus Tablespoons. The atmosphere is a direct result of our desire to renovate and restore, as historically correct as possible, an early 1900’s building in downtown St. Marys, recreating a turn-of-the-century eating experience. As you look around the café` a lot of what you see is original to the building, like the flooring and tin work, albeit painted. Very little of the original woodwork survived a 1920’s renovation so most of it has been recreated based upon a few remaining pieces we found during our renovation and hidden from sight for over 80 years.
THE BIRTH OF OUR HISTORY
The first Arcade Saloon and Restaurant (pictured) was a wooden structure and façade built around 1875 by Mr. Joseph F. Windfelder. He is pictured center of the photo wearing the stovepipe top hat. The building was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1880 but soon replaced with another wooden structure (no picture).
In the late 1800’s Mr. Windfelder sold his establishment to Mr. James McGovern, shown in the second picture tending bar. This second picture was actually taken inside the new Arcade Hotel and Restaurant opened in 1908 after Mr. McGovern razed the previous Arcade Saloon and Restaurant. Built during an era of far less regulation and when things happened quite quickly the building you are now seated in was completed in less than three months using local labor and materials as told in an archived Daily Press article. The projects architect/engineer was Engineer Coleman, a well know St. Marys native at the time, and the building was described as quite prominent for its time. At the rear of the picture notice a tin covered wall extending to the ceiling with an opened doorway. This wall was located where the current wooden structure housing the clock, fan and thermostat are located today. The tin covered wall served as a separation of the bar-room from the rest of the hotel and restaurant patrons. The wall also enclosed a central staircase leading from the basement below to the two levels of hotel rooms above.
SKETCH BY SUSAN GOETZ OF ST MARYS. ERIE AVE 1880'S
In 1922 Mr. Raymond F. Smith purchased the building from Mr. McGovern with intentions of opening a World War I surplus and sports store. After an extensive renovation he moved his family to the 3rd floor while working with Mr. Schaut a local architect to redesign the entire buildings’ layout accommodating his venture. In 1923 Smith’s Sports Store opened to the public and began and era of catering to the areas hunting/fishing and survival enthusiasts. Mr. Smith would later renovate the 2nd floor adding a dentist office which was occupied for many years by Dr. A. Leo Vollmer, DDS and later by Ruth Squires Reality.
Eventually the buildings ownership passed to Mr. Smiths’ five daughters, including Mrs. Robert (Carol) Ginther. Her husband Mr. Robert Ginther served as proprietor of the sports store until his retirement in 1996 when the building and sports store was purchased by Mr. Jeff Bucheit whom had been a long time employee. Mr. Bucheit would move his family into the top floor apartment and operate the sports store until its closing on December 30, 2010. Upon closure of the sports store the store space was rented and occupied by The Variety Shop which would later become Persnickety, operating until March 2014. In November 2013 we purchased the building and began our adventure and writing of the buildings next chapter.
After many months of extensive renovations and upgrades the building has now come full circle returning partially to its original use as a downtown eatery. We hope you enjoy your visit here and the efforts we’ve made to create a period atmosphere while maintaining the buildings allure and the craftsman of an earlier generation.
The removal of The Smiths Sports Store sign
part of the second floor was used as a Dentist office for many years. This picture shows the medical symbol in the floor that we found when pulling up the old carpeting.
THIRD FLOOR TRANSFORMATION
A COMPLETELY LIVABLE BUILDING