Hugo’s – 5th Street – Muhlenberg

Hugo’s was a dance club and bar, incorporated on August 17th, 1972. It was located in Muhlenberg, specifically Laureldale, at the location of the current Alebrije Mexican Restaurant in Plaza 222. Hugo’s was owned by Leonard Kochen, who also owned Grammy’s Restaurant in Reading. It was originally called Disco Hugo’s, but eventually dropped the “Disco” and was more commonly referred to as “Hugo’s”.

Hugo’s offered disco dance lessons in the 70s, but also had a lot of popular bands headlining on other nights throughout its tenure. Many may remember a few of the acts that played there; a couple notable ones being the Sharks and the Jordan Brothers. There was something to go do or see almost any night of the week.

Hugo’s closed in 1988.

In 1991 the club was revived briefly under new ownership but still went by the Hugo’s name.

(click to enlarge)

There were issues with the liquor license transfer and the club was forced to have only “all-age” shows with no alcohol. This must have been short lived because there is no other information on the club until 1996.

In 1996 Hugo’s would gain its liquor license, change its name to the Lions Den and reopen. This was the beginning of the end of the establishment.

Muhlenberg Township police have called in state troopers and county detectives to try to close down the Lions Den, a bar and dance club where there have been numerous fights and a police officer was hurt in a melee last week. – Nov 3, 1998 Reading Eagle

The club was starting to attract a less than savory crowd who caused trouble in the parking lot. Police were consistently called to break up altercations and eventually deemed the club a public nuisance. The owners of the club again changed the name to the Confetti Nightclub & Bar, assumedly in an attempt to move away from the reputation the Lion’s Den had gained. By the end, there had been two different shootings outside the club and it was finally shut down and the club’s contents were auctioned off in February of 2001.

Robert M. Flanagan, Muhlenberg Township police chief, stands outside the closed Confetti Night Club and Bar, where equipment and furniture were auctioned off Monday. – Eagle/Times: Richard J. Patrick

Today, Alebrije occupies the space, and has for a long time. If you remember anything being in here between Confetti Nightclub and Alebrije, please let me know in the comments.

The site of Hugo’s today.

Route 222 Expansion – Cumru Township – Part 1

Click to Enlarge

Many businesses along the Lancaster Pike were taken by eminent domain by the state in the early 2000s, when PennDot was making the final connection of 222 from 422 south toward Lancaster.

Owners of businesses and homes that impeded the construction of the highway were offered compensation for their properties, though generally in situations like this the state’s offer is a complete lowball. If owners say no, the state condemns their properties and takes it anyway. There really isn’t a way to win when the government decides it wants your land. Many businesses along the route drug out this process as long as they possibly could.

A few businesses like Sno Kist were put out of businesses completely due to not getting the money they needed to relocate the business. Many people lost their family homes.

If the state condemns a property, Goida said, it compensates the owner based on a state appraisal and takes title to the property. Owners have the right to seek additional compensation by appealing the matter to a court-appointed Board of Viewers. Out of the 107 properties the state needs to acquire, about three quarters are residences, officials said, and the remaining are businesses. Part of the state’s acquisition process involves trying to help owners relocate, according to Goida.


Colonial Hills Bowl

Aerial of Colonial Hills Bowl in 1958 right after it opened

Colonial Hills was opened in 1957 along route 222 just south of Shillington. It was owned for a majority of those years by Albert Blough, owner of Berks Lanes, Heister Lanes and Limerick Bowl. It hosted many bowling leagues, school games and tournaments over the years. It also had a fitness center that many people belonged to. The center was a hub of social activity for the community for over 40 years.

Because owners of those businesses were not receptive to the state’s offers, Goida said, PennDOT must begin court proceedings to acquire the properties as quickly as possible.
“Since we weren’t able to agree on a price,” Goida said, “we were forced to file the condemnation papers”.

Colonial Hills shut down on July 31st, 2001 for the final time. It had successfully moved over to the newly expanded Berks Lanes on Rt. 724 in Sinking Spring. Its contents, including dozens of arcade video games, a walk-in cooler, a bar and many other items were auctioned off on August 21st, 2001 by the state. It was demolished soon after.


Route 222 News Outlet

Directly across from Sno Kist was the Route 222 News Outlet, which was an adult entertainment store. It was owned by Thomas Masciantonio who tried to get the store relocated to a different site he purchased in Brecknock Township. He was opposed by local residents and churches, whose lawyers claimed this site would be unable to be developed because it was a bog-turtle habitat. The bog turtle is an endangered species in Pennsylvania, and federal guidelines protect its habitats from being developed.

Masciantonio provided four different land redevelopment plans for the location but all were denied, appealed and denied again due to the nature of his business. Rt. 222 News Outlet was demolished and never relocated.

The parking lot of the Route 222 News Outlet was also the scene of a grisly murder that is still unsolved. On August 6th, 1999 Gary A. Miller was found dead with multiple gunshot wounds in his car on the lot. Investigators said he was shot while in the car and managed to turn it on and begin driving away before succumbing to his wounds. He lost control of the vehicle and crashed into a fence in front of the Sport Cycle Suzuki business next door.

A motive for the crime nor the murderer have been found.


Sport Cycle Suzuki

Northbound traffic flows by Sport-Cycle Suzuki, which has yet to move from its Cumru Township location to make way for the Route 222 extension project.

The Sport Cycle Suzuki was one of if not the last business to vacate the 222 construction area. Their new location was being built along Route 61 in Leesport, and had a few months to be finished by the August 20th 2001 eviction deadline. The business is still located along Rt 61 in Leesport today.

4th of July Through the Decades

1957

West Reading’s Fourth of July celebration yesterday was a double event. Besides celebrating the holiday the citizens and various organizations in the borough joined in a program in observation of the borough’s 50th anniversary. A spectacular feature of the day was the parade which was held in the morning. Shown above is one of the marching groups as the parade moved along Penn Avenue. (Eagle Staff Photo)

1969

Four hundred and fifty-seven children participated in the Fourth of July program sponsored by the city recreation bureau at the City Park bandshell Thursday afternoon. The children, walking to City Park from their respective playgrounds, wore costumes of their own design and carried flags in the patriotic march.

Oakbrook housing, Baer Park and Barbey’s win the top three honors in competition involving number of participants and distance traveled. At the bandshell, appropriate songs were sung and Uncle Sam’s birthday cake was lit. In the left photo, David A. Salvi, dressed as America’s best known symbol, admires the simulated stars and stripes confection, while one playground group, in the right photo, offers an Independence Day songfest.

Below, members of the Brookline playground sport small replicas of Old Glory as they witness the proceedings. -Eagle Photo

1973

As usual, Lancaster Avenue and the New Holland Road intersection was turned into a lake during Tuesday afternoon’s series of thundershowers. Just as regular are these two youngsters who took advantage of the cool water to escape from the humid weather that preceded the deluge. – Eagle Photo

Sno-Kist – Route 222 – Shillington

Photo taken by C.E. Werley

Sno-Kist was a beloved summer ice-cream place that was located along route 222, just south of Shillington. It was directly across the street from an Adult Video store called the RT. 222 News Outlet and was just north of Simotas Dairy Bar. The building had been an ice cream stand since the 1950s, always called Sno-Kist, but only operated under the most recent and final management since 1988, when it was purchased by Dimitrios Kiritsis.

Image from the Sno-kist facebook fan page
Aerial of the ice cream stand in 1958

Sno-Kist eventually became a casualty of the 222 highway expansion in the early 2000s, along with many other businesses that were located along Lancaster Pike. Sno-kist ultimately closed permanently after the offer from the state not being enough to relocate the business.

August 5th, 1999 Reading Eagle article, click to enlarge

Above is the view today of where Sno-Kist once stood. The former site of Sno-kist is right on the South bound lanes of 222. Macadamed over but forever in the memories of those who enjoyed a sweet summer treat there. You can just see the green roof of the home in the first picture above peaking out from above the sound barrier.

Penn View Motel – West Reading

The Penn View Motel was part of a chain of nine motels called Host Ways Motel. It was built in 1965, and along with the other 8 locations boasted the mid-century modern pyramid. It was located on the block between 2nd and 3rd Streets on Penn Avenue in West Reading. The striking blue pyramid would become a landmark of sorts, and could be easily seen by passing cars on the 422 bypass just down the road.

The chain is no longer in existence, and the only trace left of this chain is found in New Jersey at the Ivory Tower Motor Inn.

Over the years the Penn View became more and more infamous, being widely known for rampant prostitution, crime and drug problems. Quite a few deaths occurred within the walls of it’s motel rooms, mainly from overdoses. In 1990, there was a murder outside the motel over cocaine.

In 1995, Dateline NBC came to the Penn View to follow Berks Sheriff’s Deputies as they delivered warrants in an effort to see how fugitives are brought to justice.

Source

The Penn View was deemed a blight finally taken by eminent domain in 2006, and razed shortly after. It had a few long-term tenants that were relocated.

The motel’s last tenant checked in about 2 a.m. Monday, Alan said. When the man left later that morning, Alan refunded the $55 motel bill and gave him a bottle of champagne.” – 8/22/06 Reading Eagle

Plans for a new hotel were met with some adversity due to community member’s fears it would devolve into the same nefarious activities as the Penn View. A Candlewood Suites was eventually built on the grounds of the old Penn View, and as far as I know has not been an issue for the surrounding community.