Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Bergville Cafe - Remember It?

Posted By on Thu, Dec 16, 2010 at 2:10 PM

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One day, I was rooting through the old photo files in the Memphis Room, and came across this image of a quaint little cafe called Bergville.

It was quite a handsome little establishment, and even the signs painted on the windows proclaimed it "A Clean Place to Eat." But I was perplexed by what I could see in the background — rows of storage tanks of some sort (barely visible in the left background). If not for the "Poland Photo Memphis" logo at the bottom, I wouldn't have thought this was a Memphis establishment.

But it certainly was located here, a tiny restaurant that opened in 1932 at 459 Union Avenue. The proprietor was Alex Guigou, who with his wife Helen had previously operated the curiously named Orange Palace Cafe on Summer. Those mysterious tanks in the background belonged to the Beacon Filling Station next door, and in fact, in those days that section of Union was fairly industrial, in a car-related way.

In the same block, you could find McCreery Used Cars, the Automobile Piston Company, Charles Ham Auto Service, and Farber Brothers Auto Tops. Just a few doors down was the old building — originally the Ford Motor Company — that housed The Commercial Appeal.

I have no idea why Alex and Helen Guigou called their little eatery Bergville. It didn't last long. Old city directories show a different manager running the joint every year until 1936, when the owners renamed it the Spick & Span Restaurant. In the 1940s, it became the Blue and White Spot Restaurant. Does anybody remember any of these places?

In the 1950s and 1960s, the tiny building housed a used-car dealership, joining many others in that area, back in the days when Union Avenue was considered "Automobile Row." But all that is changed now, and the little place called Bergville is long gone.

PHOTO COURTESY MEMPHIS ROOM, BENJAMIN HOOKS CENTRAL LIBRARY

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