By Kris Leonhardt
Following the fire that destroyed the Korth Opera House in the late 1800s, J.P. Adler saw the need for a new meeting hall. He set to work on a large brick structure on the Adler Block facing Second Street between Central and Chestnut Avenues that would house a meeting and dance hall.
That structure would become an opera house and theater mecca that would kick-start an industry for Adler.
In the basement of the Adler building, Leo and Frank Trudeau opened a saloon in the early 1900s. The business, named the Palm Gardens, also included a café. Frank ran the café, and Leo and John E. Adler took care of the saloon. Working as the chef in the café was the Trudeaus’ brother Bill.
After more than a decade of working with his brothers at the Palm Gardens, Bill opened his own café at 119 S. Central Ave., the current location of Cranberry Creek and Bella’s Boutique. He later moved the café one space north to 117 S. Central Ave. and following that to 236 S. Central Ave., which became the permanent home of Trudeau’s Café. The Trudeau family continued to operate a café out of the structure for multiple decades.
Bill; his wife, Clara; and son Ermon ran the business, which later included a popcorn wagon that operated during the summer months on the corner of West Third Street and South Central Avenue. They sold popcorn and peanuts for concerts and fairs from the wagon.
Bill, Clara, and Ermon formed a partnership until Ermon took over the business in 1944. Ermon’s wife, children, and later grandchildren would join him in the business.
In December of 1953 a fire started in the basement of an adjoining building, and Trudeau’s Café and another structure suffered large-scale damage. The business was closed for a quarter of a year while repairs were made.
Trudeau’s Café remained in business under the ownership of the Trudeau family until 1967.
Currently, the Daily Grind operates out of the former location of Trudeau’s Café.