A new restaurant was built on U.S. 31 next to Jens Olesen’s blacksmith shop, just north of the intersection. Owner Joe Hallowack was just putting the finishing touches on the interior as reported in The Montague Observer on Aug. 5, 1937.
The new building was attractive in design and constructed of gray slate shingles with exterior trim of bright maroon. The interior consisted of a large serving room, kitchen, and modern toilet facilities. The ceiling and upper sidewalls were pale blue, with maroon lower panels, and all the woodwork was stained walnut. There were plenty of windows to add to the appearance. The name of the new restaurant was the Petunia Café.
Hallowack operated the restaurant until January 1939 when it was sold to Mrs. Bessie Marshall of Whitehall. The restaurant had been closed for several months.
The Twin City Café opened for business in May 1939 with F. D. Scholl of Muskegon as the new owner. Mr. Scholl, a native of Shelby, had previous restaurant experience, having operated a roadhouse tavern in Ohio for several years. His son Bernard was going to be assisting in the local café.
The new proprietors specialized in short orders and sandwiches and carried the favorite brands of beer and wine.
In July 1940, Robert L. Stuart, who was also a Justice of the Peace, and his wife bought the Twin City Café which they then reopened as a cafe and tavern known as the White House. They operated the business until the end of 1942.
August 1943, saw another change in ownership when Mr. & Mrs. Ellis Dayson became the new owners. They specialized in chicken dinners served Frankenmuth style but also served noon plates lunches, salads, and sandwiches. They could seat 60 patrons in the main room and a small private room combined.
An ad appeared in March 1944 announcing that The White House was under new management. At this time, Mr. & Mrs. Joseph McKenzie were the proprietors.
November 1944, saw The White House completely cleaned and redecorated and opened under the management of Mr. & Mrs. Paul Duell with Miss Barbara Shanty and William Vincent assisting. They planned to serve breakfasts beginning at 5:00 A.M. and to remain open as last in the evening as practicable.
After being closed for some time, The White House Cafe reopened in August 1945 under the management of Jean Snipstad and William “Bill” Durkee. They specialized in serving chicken dinner every Sunday and regular lunches and dinners during the week. Robert Stuart had retained ownership of the building and property.
March 1946, The Whitehouse Café opened with Judy DeCater and Eva Stuyvenburg, both of whom were from Muskegon, as the new proprietors.
In July 1947, after leasing the business to several other parties over the years, Robert Stuart decided to reopen the business himself. He remodeled the building and replaced the equipment. When it reopened in December, it opened under a new name – The Whitehouse Coffee Shop. Stuart’s wife and daughter assisted him in the business.
On Feb. 7, 1952, it was announced that Stan Hall and Kenneth Stuart had opened a radio and television store in the building called “Halart Electric”. They sold Arvin radios, televisions, and electric home appliances. They also serviced and repaired all kinds of appliances and radios and installed television sets. At the time that they opened their business, they had a bit of competition from William Degan and Leo Lohman who had opened a similar business in the Ripley building a week earlier.
After being closed for about 2 years, Charles Jankus and his wife Tillie leased the building from Robert Stuart and in August 1954 opened it as a restaurant again. They called it the “Whitehouse Café”.
In April 1955, Andrew Neubauer and his wife Nan bought out the Whitehouse Café from the Jankuses. Mrs. Jankus had recently taken ill and was not expected to be able to return to the operation of the cafe.
Nan Neubauer had previously been working at the restaurant for some time.
In October 1957, Nan Neubauer purchased the restaurant building from Robert Stuart and did some remodeling and enlarged the kitchen area.
Nan Neubauer sold the business to Lucille Peckle and Mabel Yeagel, both of Fremont, who had lots of previous restaurant experience. They took over the business on December 1, 1964.
In August 1966, the Neubauers re-opened the restaurant they had retired from in 1964 and called it “Nan’s Restaurant”. They operation the restaurant through 1967. Andrew passed away in 1970 and Nan in 1971.
In August 1971, after two years in Whitehall, Forest & Ivy Pickens moved their Montgomery Ward store into the former White House Café building, located at 8702 Water Street. At the time, Clyde Marquardt of Rockford owned the building.
In 1974, the Pickens sold the business to David and Nancy Huston. In 1978, Huston’s moved the Montgomery Ward store to 8688 Water Street. In 1979, they built a new building and moved the Montgomery Ward store to 4478 Dowling, on the Causeway, across from the former City Hall location.
The former White House Cafe restaurant building was eventually torn down and the area has since been replaced by Montague Foods’ parking lot near the Weathervane Park.