Long and Remarkable Career of the Building at 564 East 3rd Avenue

10 August 2016
Avenues Bistro as it looks today Avenues Bistro as it looks today

Many remember when the Avenues Bistro location was the 3rd Avenue Pharmacy. Built as a simple one-story brick commercial building in 1909, this historical Avenues venue was constructed for Edward T. Studness as his drugstore, Lyon Drug.

A wooden pharmacy counter was built from quarter-sawn white oak with nickel-plated bronze ice-box latches and is still located on site. (Scott Gardner restored the cabinet in 2011 before we opened the Bistro.)

Samuel I. and Eris R. Harman bought the pharmacy according to Polk around 1910. They called their neighborhood drug store "Harman’s Pharmacy, A Better Drug Store." In the 1920s and 1930s, there was a soda fountain in every neighborhood pharmacy. These were community gathering places and in about 1923 Mr. Harman installed his counter. Young men and women from the neighborhood had their first jobs there, while Mr. Harman tended to the pharmacy—and to his prize-winning gladiolas out back. The teens, as newly-minted soda jerks, served soda fountain drinks, soups and sandwiches and sold penny candy by the each.

From 1931 to 1935 the building housed a branch of the Salt Lake City Library.

After some decades, Mr. Harman retired and a pharmacist he had employed, Joe Giovacchini, with his wife Maxine, took over the operation and carried on in the Sam Harman style, selling all sorts of products from clocks to cigars and comic books to cameras. Fountain service was a favorite of the locals, such as route drivers and postal workers who gathered in groups for lunch. Notable regulars included the then-fire chief, J.K. Piercey, and C.C. Neslen, former mayor.

In 1984 Jude Rubadue bought the building and opened her café and catering business called Ruby’s. She continues to own the building and has gone to great time and expense to take care of the property.

FoodArt, doing business as Avenues Bistro on Third has been operating at this location since February, 2012. While repairing a broken water line under the sidewalk at the front door, excavation into the easement through the basement revealed several wooden signs (8’ x 8”). They are hand drawn and gold leafed and were found in excellent condition. Now they are hung on walls throughout the bistro. A few years later in a conversation with the founder of Schmidt Signs, I learned that a man named Lee had designed these very signs for Sam Harman during the 1920s. This historical site continues, through the ages, to be a gathering place for locals and friends.

Amazing works of local artists are displayed at the Bistro, including a mural by Arthur Roburg called “FoodArt”, Pottery by Sidney Smith, “Navajo Women” by Suzanne Tornquist, chalk art by Michael Haswood, “Village Chair” by 8yo Adele Node Lang-Louis, beautiful frames by Scott Gardner. Avenues Bistro on Third is moving into our 5th year, carrying on the tradition from days gone by. We are committed to serving our guests with a bountiful supply of locally sourced, seasonal ingredients. We work with Utah farmers, dairies, ranchers and vendors, and serve fresh produce cultivated from our seasonal urban farm. For more information please visit avenuesbistroonthird.com. Better yet, Come EAT. It will speak for itself! Open Wednesday to Sunday, 9 a.m.-9 p.m.

(Your editor was one of the soda jerks who worked there in the 1950s.)