When the Town Square Grog Shop opened in 1970 in the new shopping center, it was clear from the beginning that the owners had taken the “heritage” flavor of the Town Square development to heart. No plaster here. Nor drywall either. Rather, the owners, Bill Mertens and Ron Salm, planned their business for months and started by making a trip to a nearby Cook County Forest Preserve.
On Bode Road, west of Schaumburg, they found an abandoned, late 19th century barn that was soon to be torn down by the Forest Preserve District. With the District’s permission they gathered eight men and demolished the barn in an oh-so-careful manner on a late summer day. Fortunately, the wood was soft and came off easily.
They managed to preserve 3000 square feet of exterior walls and interior timbers. The wood was then bleached and allowed to air dry in Mr. Mertens’ backyard for six months until it was used to create the interior walls of their shop. Because there wasn’t quite enough for the construction, they purchased an additional 800 square feet of distressed lumber from a dealer in Barrington. Pete Florio of the Resco Design Center in Niles created the store’s design and the business did the construction.
The heritage design was also carried through in some of the store’s equipment. An antique wine press, 12 wine barrels, and various crocks and tubs were scattered throughout the store. Even the small office came with a barrel window and door. And the vinyl-coated walnut floor was planked with pegs to enhance the rustic look.
When the store opened on Saturday, March 14, 1970 the antique look was complete. And it stayed that way until its closing in late 1995. With its Roselle Road visibility, it is my supposition that it was the longest operating store in the shopping center. It’s quite probable that the unique design and interior helped to attract attention. Thanks to a 75-year-old barn and the foresight of the owners.
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library
(The details of this posting were taken from a March 10, 1970 issue of The Herald. It was just too interesting to be ignored!)