The Eat Shop was a popular student entertainment and social venue from the 1920s until the building closed in the 1970s at the same time that the Keller opened. Used as studio space by the art department for a short time, this building was demolished. The Keller met entertainment needs for students until 1998 when replaced by the Kellogg Center. Many people feel that despite being an attractive facility, that the Kellogg Center has failed to capture the spirit of the earlier Keller or Eat Shop spaces. This didn’t prevent college decision makers from placing benches from the Eat Shop in the Kellogg Center near the made-to-order restaurant. Still this was an allusion mostly for history buffs and did little to recreate the conditions of the cramped, dirty, and dark spaces of the Eat Shop and Keller that generations of students so loved.
Source: Isaac Kremer, January 2004.
From the Albion College Archives
The Eat Shop
Officially called the College Inn, it was known to everyone as the Eat Shop.
The old brick building at 711 East Cass Street, next to the Bobbitt Visual Arts Center, had operated for at least 43 years before it was leveled in 1973. Earliest records show that in 1885, the building was used to sell books and stationery by W.L. Griffin and that members of the Griffin family also lived there.
By 1913, it was a grocery store, operated by the Griffin Brothers, Earnest W. and Stanley C. The Griffin Brothers also operated Post Office Substation No.1, which was located in the store in the early 1900s. The upper floor of the building continued to be a living apartment until the Eat Shop closed in 1971.
In the late 1920s, M.E. Guiffra and his wife bought the Eat Shop, as it was then known, and operated it for some 18 years.
The Eat Shop was a favorite meeting place for students and faculty alike until its last year. Students could be seen playing a quick round of pinball before class, and the clanging of pinball machine bells, the clamor of the juke box and the smoke and grease-laden air filled the place until it closed late each evening. The Eat Shop was the place to cram for tests, discuss classes, criticize professors, hatch plots to paint the Rock, meet after class, and write messages on the tables. The Shop was famous for its graffiti.
The most recent owner-operators of the Eat Shop were Ralph and Frances Hansel. They sold the building to Albion College in the late 1960s, but continued to operate it as a restaurant until it closed at the end of the 1970-71 school year due to its inability to meet Board of Health requirements for building repair. Orders for changes in electrical wiring and plumbing were included in the Board’s list of corrections. Due to the cost associated with these renovations and the recent opening of the “Keller” at Baldwin Hall, the College decided not to go ahead with the repairs.
Between 1971 and July of 1973, the building was used as extra studio space for art students. The building was finally razed to make way for a ceramics studio, directly adjacent to the Visual Arts Center, due to the increasing enrollment of art students at Albion after the department moved from the second floor of the library to the new building in 1966.
The current Eat Shop is located on the second floor of the Kellogg Center. It has, unfortunately, never managed to recapture the spirit and inspire the same community feel of the original Eat Shop. In the hopes of rekindling some of that, benches from the original Eat Shop have recently been installed, along with other mementos of the “good old days”.
All photographs are from the Albion College Archives Photograph Files, unless otherwise noted.
“College Eat Shop Atmosphere Penetrates Social Life of ‘Serious-Minded’ Students,” (1952, January). Pleiad.
“Eat Shop forced to close June 10.” (1971, May). Pleiad.
Moore, David. “College Eat Shop Leveled; New Structure Planned.” (1973, July). Pleiad.
Source: Albion College Archives, 2003 [Downloaded July 3, 2003]