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.

Easter Egg Hunts through the years

March 28th, 1959 Reading Eagle (click to enlarge)
Easter 1962 – Children yesterday had their day in the city and county as Easter egg hunts were conducted for their benefit. Shown above is the “breaking from the barrier” at Brookline Playground. – Reading Eagle
The scramble for Easter eggs is on as participants in the egg hunt yesterday at Keffer Park Rush across the playground. The hunt was one of seven held on city playgrounds. -Reading Eagle
Meeting the Bunnies – At the annual Easter egg hunt held at Bernharts Dam under the sponsorship of Local 1893, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Scott Kahn of 3310 Fairfield St, Laureldale and Donna Ohlinger of Fleetwood R.D. 3, are joined by Mr. and Mrs. Easter Bunny as they collect their bag of chocolate candy and prizes. Approximately 700 egg-hunting children attended the festivities. -Reading Eagle.

On this day, 1985 – Downtown Pomeroy’s Closes it’s Doors for Good

On this day in 1985 – Pomeroy’s Department Store in Downtown Reading closes after 109 years in business.

On this day, 1985 - Downtown Pomeroy's Closes it's Doors for Good
A crush of shopper prepares for the final charge into Pomeroy’s downtown store Saturday. The department store closed shortly after 5 p.m., ending 109 years of operations as one of the anchors of Penn Square. 
Downtown Pomeroy's Closes it's Doors for Good

 

Downtown Pomeroy's Closes it's Doors for Good
Downtown Pomeroy's Closes it's Doors for Good

The future remained uncertain for the historical building for many years, with renovation plans falling through. Eventually it was demolished to make way for new construction.

Downtown Pomeroy's Closes it's Doors for Good

Gadgets at the Berkshire Mall

From 1982-1984 there was a cutting edge restaurant called “Gadget’s” upstairs at the Berkshire Mall. It featured animatronic singing robots as entertainment. For kids, Looney Tunes was the featured presentation. It was also targeted to adults, featuring a LaBARatory bar and evening shows as well. Below is the only footage online of the restaurant, though at a location in New York.

The idea was fairly short lived. After brief expansion to roughly 6 locations in the US, the idea proved too costly to make a profit, and ultimately closed down. According to a comment on this website, the location at the Berkshire Mall was rumored to have a particularly shady end:

Does anyone remember the shady Gadgets disappearing story? They were behind on rent (owed 10s of thousands) and just packed up and took off in the middle of the night, leaving behind lots of the fixtures in the restaurant.

Do you remember Gadgets? Do you have any images or stories to share? Can you validate the rumor of how it left? What happened to all of the animatronic pieces left behind?

Bon-Ton / Pomeroy’s at the Berkshire Mall

Everyone has heard that Bon-Ton had declared bankruptcy and was subsequently closing all of it’s stores back in April. Liquidation began immediately, and finally after 4 months of sales the location at the Berkshire Mall is closing for the final time today, August 28th 2018 at 5:00 pm.

Bon-Ton occupied the center anchor at the Berkshire Mall since 1987, when it bought out the local department store, Pomeroy’s. The change was gradual, and the store only started touting just the Bon-Ton name in 1990, three years after the purchase. Pomeroy’s had been in the space since 1976. The mall opened in 1970, and for the first 6 years it housed a Philadelphia store called Lit Brothers. So, the majority of the mall’s life it has been the Bon-Ton. This will be the first time the space will be vacant for any amount of time, though Mall Management is looking for a tenant.

Pomeroy's Grand opening Berkshire Mall 1976
Pomeroy’s Grand opening Berkshire Mall 1976

Pomeroy’s / Bon-Ton has employed many Berks Countian’s over the years. My own Mother worked at Pomeroy’s in the late 70s/early 80s in the Junior Sportswear department during high school and college. Many are sad to see the memories go.

Pomeroy's fire May 1990
Pomeroy’s fire May 1990

Pomeroy's is now The Bon-Ton 1990
Pomeroy’s is now The Bon-Ton August 1990

Malls in general are not doing well these days. Many department stores, like Bon-Ton, are going out of business, and do not draw the crowds they once did in the Mall’s heydays of decades past. One would only need to look a few miles north to the Fairgrounds Square Mall to see the fate that awaits most malls. However Berkshire still seems to do a good business, and has minimal vacancies…though one mall couldn’t keep a giant like Bon-Ton alive, a new tenant should jump at the opportunity to join an active mall like the Berkshire.