SIOUX CITY | The Soo Thrifty Drug Store counter drew patrons from cops to kids during its heyday.
It was the business anchor at 27th and Pierce streets, where people frequented nearby stores to get a hair cut, go to a movie, check out the five and dime, fill their cars with gas, mail packages, buy groceries and order flowers.
All that's left of that bygone era is the drug store – now Hy-Vee Drug. By the end of summer, that building, too, will be demolished to make way for an expanded HyVee Mainstreet pharmacy built behind it.
Many Siouxlanders fondly recall Soo Thrifty's café, where they stood in line to sit on one of the red stools around a small, U-shaped counter or squeeze into a couple of booths in the corner.
"When I worked at St. Luke's, a bunch of us would go across the street because they had wonderful food," Lucy Miller-Harris recalled. "It was always packed. Everybody seemed to know everybody."
Businessmen Albert Seff and Mark Krueger built the Uptown Theater in 1947-1948, in the former Cleveland Garage, according to Grace Linden, of the Sioux City Public Museum. Mark's son, Bob Krueger (who died in December), moved to Sioux City in 1948 from Wakonda, S.D., to manage the movie house.
In the 1950s, Maita Sadoff said, "I used to take my boys on Saturday afternoons to the matinees. They had movies geared for children. It wasn't very expensive."
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Bob Seff, a Sioux City attorney and son of Albert Seff, said, "It was home for literally hundreds of kids on Saturdays, showing cartoons and Westerns at the matinees."
In 1958, the elder Seff and Krueger closed the theater. They purchased Harry's Sunset Café around the corner, remodeled it into a drug store and incorporated the Uptown's lobby into the new store. Druggist Adam Pratt leased the building. Eventually, pharmacist Jim Manning and his brothers rented the space. Jim Manning sold the business to Hy-Vee.
Other businesses operated through the years in that commercial center: Gingham Girl Salon, Anderson's Barber Shop, a candy shop, Frances Shoes, A-1 Van's Florists, Edward Jones Investments, Uptown Hotel, Kalin's 5 and Dime, gas stations and the Council Oak grocery store (later a medical clinic).
In 1957, the North Branch Post Office opened at 2517 Pierce St. In 2002, the post office moved to a strip mall near the Marketplace on 28th Street. Of course, that's closed now, too.
Bob Seff and Krueger owned the drug store building through their company, Almar, Seff said. Almar is involved with Hy-Vee on the new project. The $2.9 million building will open in August or September.
The bulldozers also have been busy across Pierce Street, demolishing a gas station and the former St. Luke's College building. The college moved to a medical building up the block. Hospital spokeswoman Leslie Heying said the hospital is "exploring options" on what to do with the land.
Meanwhile, the new Hy-Vee store will offer more than food and medicine. It will have a grill serving breakfast, lunch and dinner.
What was old will be new again.