Soda Fountains and Tea Rooms

Nelson’s Caterers postcard, ca. 1920. Object ID: 1995.057.004; Copyright Royal Gorge Regional Museum & History Center

Dolan’s Tea Room, ca. 1932. Object ID: 2005.046.006; Copyright Royal Gorge Regional Museum & History Center

The two photos above, taken years apart, look strangely similar despite being two different businesses. These two businesses both occupied the same address at different times: 609 Main Street. Nelson Brothers Bakery (later Nelson’s Caterers and Confectioners and Nelson’s Cafe) opened in 1908. A.P. Nelson got his start in the grocery business and decided to open a bakery with his brother Clyde Nelson. The business moved away from baking toward confections and on June 20, 1918, the Cañon City Record reported the business had “gained an enviable reputation for high quality ice cream, candies and fountain beverages.” That same article also noted that the employees were wearing uniforms of black dresses with white collars, aprons, and cap which added elegance.

The business sat in the Harrison Block which was expanded in 1920. The Fremont County Leader published an article on April 23 about the expansion. Nelson’s gained 600 square feet allowing them to expand their dining room quarters and put in a modern kitchen. During the expansion, the café was thoroughly remodeled.

By 1931, Dolan’s Tea Room was listed in the City Directory, having taken over the 609 Main Street location. As seen from the photos above, the interior was changed very little. The dining room of Dolan’s can be seen in the photograph below of a Women’s Club Banquet on May 12, 1931. According to the information on the photograph, 92 women were present!

Women’s Club Banquet at Dolan’s Tea Room, May 12, 1931. Object ID: 1986.043.734; Copyright Royal Gorge Regional Museum & History Center.

Dolan’s Tea Room Menu, 1931. Object ID: 2005.046.004; Royal Gorge Regional Museum & History Center

Dolan’s was only open for a short time and by 1934 the Silver Grill had taken over the property.

The information presented in this article is compiled using research conducted by the Royal Gorge Regional Museum and History Center.

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