Shrank’s Cafeteria Torn Down
The main portion of the former Shrank’s Cafeteria is no more. The building at 85 West Michigan Avenue in downtown Battle Creek was razed on Tuesday afternoon. The “R.F. Hoffmaster” building was home to a favorite downtown meeting place and lunch spot since 1932, when it was opened by Roy Shrank. The building was built by Rillie F. Hoffmaster in 1899, and became part of what was known as the “Hoffmaster Block”. The Hoffmaster family worked in the dry goods and mercantile business. Hoffmaster built a three story structure next door, to the east, later known as the Jury-Rowe store.
Roy Shrank’s daughter, Rita DeVore, eventually took over the cafeteria and ran Shrank’s until 2007, when she and her husband, Steve, relinquished control of the business to Becky and Stephen Schnorr. But the Schnorrs returned the business to the DeVores in June 2010. Costs to get the old building up to city code were too high, and signaled the end of an era.
180 Urban took possession for a while, but as city leaders became impatient with a lack of progress, Battle Creek Unlimited (BCU) took ownership of the vacant property in November. BCU says a mixed-use development with both residential and retail could be a good fit.
City leaders say extra care will be taken to remove the old building. Several years ago when the old Jury-Rowe Furniture building at 83 West Michigan was removed, not enough care was taken to support the adjacent wall, the east wall, of Shrank’s. Crews have been instructed to take extra care to make sure the existing structures to the west are not disturbed and that the structural integrity of the wall is preserved.
Once the Jury-Rowe buildings were razed, the spot referred to as “Horse Park” flanked the Shrank’s building, until a roadway through the park was build a few years ago.