Frohlich Building

Saint Lawrence Commons

What is now the cornerstone of a busy Midtown intersection started out as two modest storefronts facing Virginia Street. The year was 1926, and the Memphis-based Piggly Wiggly grocery chain was eager to open a second Reno store. Constructed here especially for that purpose was a single-story brick structure with two storefronts, 711 and 713 South Virginia. Piggly Wiggly originally occupied just the northern half of what was commonly referred to as the Frohlich building, after property owner (and one-time Reno mayor) August Frohlich.

At the time, a wood frame house long owned by the Stiner family still stood next door, on the corner of Saint Lawrence Avenue, which was then called Steiner Street. It was the Stiners who had platted out the three blocks extending west from Virginia Street back in 1907 (the misspelling of Stiner when naming the street was likely a clerical error).

In 1934, Piggly Wiggly expanded into the second storefront. By then the two-story Giraudo Apartments had been built next door, boasting two ground floor commercial spaces. In 1936, all area Piggly Wiggly stores, including this one, were bought out by the Nevada-based Sewell’s chain, which operated in this spot for the next five years.

Big changes came to the intersection in 1941. The old Stiner house on the corner had been moved in order to widen Steiner Street, and a new storefront was added to the north side of the grocery. In March 1941, it opened as Heric’s Doughnut Shop (really a full café). The new addition largely matched the appearance of the original brick building, with a few distinct touches—most notably, the beautiful black and red tile beneath the large plate glass windows flanking the corner entrance.

That same year, Sewell’s moved out, to a new building constructed at 445 South Virginia. Taking its place here was the Mount Rose Market, which eventually built a rear addition for selling appliances. The market closed in the late fifties, as large supermarkets began to push independent groceries out of business. Heric retired in the mid-sixties, closing his café and moving to Arizona.

From 1965 through the early 2000s, the corner spot was occupied by a series of nightclubs that eventually took over the remaining commercial spaces—first, Club-a-Go-Go, followed by the Peppermint Lounge, Del Mar Station, and Coco Boom. In 2009, the entire building was purchased, completely renovated, and divided into six separate storefronts. It reopened as Saint Lawrence Commons, housing retail, food, and a local theater.

Images

Outside Heric's Restaurant, 1940s

Outside Heric's Restaurant, 1940s

Pauline Granata and her sister, Tisha Blair, flank an unknown woman at the corner entrance to Heric's Restaurant. The houses in the background, on the east side of Virginia Street, demonstrate how residential much of the street still was in the 1940s. Image courtesy of Joe Granata View File Details Page

Piggly Wiggly ad, 1927

Piggly Wiggly ad, 1927

The Piggly Wiggly at 711 South Virginia Street was the third in the area. The first one opened at 142 North Sierra Street in 1925, and the second on B Street (Victorian Avenue) in Sparks earlier in 1926. All had very similar appearances. 1927-1928 Polk's Reno City Directory View File Details Page

Reno Tent & Awning, 1926

Reno Tent & Awning, 1926

The initial tenant of 713 South Virginia Street, the southern half of the building, was Reno Tent & Awning, a business formerly located on Stevenson Street. Image courtesy of Reno Evening Gazette View File Details Page

Heric's grand opening, 1941

Heric's grand opening, 1941

Heric's opened as a bakery and traditional soda fountain with comfortable booths, offering breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Its official opening was March 6, 1941. Image courtesy of Reno Evening Gazette View File Details Page

Snowman outside Heric's, 1943

Snowman outside Heric's, 1943

A frozen version of Jack Heric welcomes customers to the entrance of his restaurant in 1943, two years after it opened at 703 South Virginia Street. Image courtesy of Joe Granata View File Details Page

Coco Boom, 2010

Coco Boom, 2010

Years of operating as a nightclub had left the building in a state of neglect and disrepair by 2010. | Creator: Ravo Y. Nov View File Details Page

Saint Lawrence Commons, 2016

Saint Lawrence Commons, 2016

In 2016, the buildings' six storefronts included a theater called Good Luck Macbeth, a vintage boutique called Dressed Like That, Dreamer's Coffee House, Wedge Cheese Shop, a bakery called Creme, and Copper Cat Studio. | Creator: Alicia Barber View File Details Page

Jonathan Bascom, 2016

Jonathan Bascom, 2016

Owner Jonathan Bascom stands inside Dreamer's Coffee House, which he moved into the corner space of the Frohlich building in 2012. | Creator: Patrick Cummings View File Details Page

Audio

Moving into the old Del Mar Station

Interviewed in 2016, Jonathan Bascom talks about moving his Dreamer's Coffee House into the old Del Mar Station. View File Details Page

Street Address:

701 South Virginia Street, Reno, NV [map]

Cite this Page:

Alicia Barber, “Frohlich Building,” Reno Historical, accessed June 26, 2017, http://renohistorical.org/items/show/135.

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