Solon Springs’ social hub closes its doorsThe heart of downtown Solon Springs stopped beating this week. After a weekend of karaoke, dancing and a visit from Elvis, longtime customers stopped by Prevost’s on Monday for a final goodbye.
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
The heart of downtown Solon Springs stopped beating this week. After a weekend of karaoke, dancing and a visit from Elvis, longtime customers stopped by Prevost’s on Monday for a final goodbye.
“I think somebody ought to stand here and give a eulogy on the place,” said Charlie Fink, a longtime customer.
Owner Sandee Prevost closed the restaurant and bar Monday night.
“The economy’s not good, business is not good; it’s hard to find help,” she said, ticking off reasons for the decision.
Business has been failing since Highway 53 opened as a four-lane freeway, turning downtown Solon Springs into a business loop.
“It died the day they opened the freeway,” said Robin Priem, who has worked at Prevost’s since 1985. Although the site still offered what residents wanted — a place to gather — it was “out of sight, out of mind” for passing travelers, as one patron put it.
For 75 years, the restaurant and bar has served as a social hub.
“People watching — that’s what you do there,” said Gitzy Wicklund of Solon Springs. “People drive by and watch you eat, and you watch people drive by. That’s how you meet everybody’s new grandkids, new babies.”
The food was excellent, Wicklund said, from the Henny Penny fried chicken and pizzas to the sub sandwiches and ice cream.
The view was impressive. Huge windows gave diners a panoramic view of main street and passing trains.
“Where else are you going to sit and watch the train now?” Lucy Linsmeyer asked. “Get a cup of coffee and watch the trains.”
Cross-country kids would run past, high school sports scores would be tossed out and decorations changed with the holidays. Even when there was no traffic, the view was arresting.
“You could see the clouds forever,” Wicklund said.
Reil and Swede Prevost built the restaurant and bar in 1934. Their son, Sandee’s husband, Bob, then took it over. When he died of cancer in 2004, she was handed the keys.
Over the years, it has included both a gas station and a sports shop, although both were eventually dropped.
The restaurant has been a regular stop for Wicklund’s child-care outings.
“It was a nice place to walk to,” she said. “On a nice day I would get all my day-care kids and we would recycle on the way and they would give us an ice cream cone for our hard work.”
For Prevost, the site holds memories of sorrow as well as joy. Her favorite memory?
“Bob,” she said promptly. “He was crazy. He was just a good guy and he helped everybody.”
Although her husband loved the business, Prevost said she never has. She has toyed with the idea of selling it in the past, but is now looking to do so in earnest. The business isn’t listed with any real estate company. Prevost hopes that word-of-mouth will spread her intention to sell around the area.
Priem is looking forward to visiting Arizona this winter. Prevost plans to do a little traveling, too, but home will remain in Solon Springs where her grandchildren are. Both women are ready to move on. And the community, well, it will adapt.
“We’ll all survive,” Wicklund said. Although Prevost’s has been the hub, the heart of downtown Solon Springs, another one will surface.
“It’s another generation’s turn to pick a spot,” Wicklund said.