Monday, June 27, 2016

Out of the ashes

The fire last month that destroyed Ideal Grocery in Lincoln was devastating on several levels. The neighborhood lost a convenient full-service grocery store within walking distance. The City lost a landmark. Lincoln's foodies lost a favorite destination where you could pick up a tin of escargot, a bottle of Veri Veri Teriyaki, and a tube of anchovy paste.

Tonja and I visited Ideal frequently, usually on Saturdays. In addition to the quaint charm of its 1930s vibe, what we really loved about Ideal was the memories it stirred up of  Pete's IGA, the tiny 3-aisle store Tonja's dad owned at 31st and U Street--before he went big time with Wagner's IGA at 33rd and A Street. Both buildings are still there. Wagner's is now the A Street Market, not much changed from the time Pete acquired it in 1976.

I worked for Pete for six years at the little store from the age of 15 until I joined the police department. Tonja worked for her dad for 10 years at the "big" store. Every time we went into Ideal, the memories flooded back.

After the fire, I tweeted about one of the things I'd really miss from Ideal: the small wheeled shopping baskets, a precursor to the modern grocery cart. Many others commiserated on Twitter. But here's a surprise.

I stopped into Leon's at Winthrop Road and South Street yesterday to pick up a steak for the grill, and what did I find but the famous Ideal carts, looking pretty much the same as they did during the Hoover administration.

Our checker told us that she helped wire brush the baskets, which were salvaged from the debris. That's a nice save out of the ashes that many Lincoln citizens will continue to enjoy, and explain to their grand children!


Ken said...

Enjoyed the read, Tom.

Steve said...

I don't suppose Leon's still has the small theater booth that used to be in the front of the store where kids could sit and watch cartoons while mom did her grocery shopping. :(

ARRRRG!!!! said...

You know where I like to grocery shop.

Anonymous said...

We've lost so many old landmarks to "progress" the past few years, and it's worse, I think, when one is lost this way. We need these little stores, with so many moving to the edges of the city and turning into super stores. That's why I shop at A st. market.

Anonymous said...

I called Leon's a few days ago and they told me they would continue their $5.00 delivery service. I can get around well enough to drive to grocery shop in nice weather but it sure helps to have delivery available when the weather is nasty. I live within spitting distance of IDEAL and it was a great asset to Lincoln. Leon's and A Street market will be getting some of my business in the future.

Back in the day when grocery stores had in house meat cutters I delivered quarters of beef to many grocery stores in Lincoln. Most of those stores are gone now but my aching back reminds me of the many trips I made into them with a quarter of beef on my back. Nowadays I try not to lift anything heavier than a Big Mac with fries.
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