Last year in October I tried to eat my lunch in Bergner's break room, which I found out from Austin Simpson is the old Skandia restaurant that was located on the second floor of the department store in Sheridan Village. I hadn’t been in there since I was a little kid, so I thought it would be fun to do one of my awkward, “Can I Eat My Lunch In Here” episodes. Well, it didn't go too well and I was told that the corporate offices would have to okay any photos in the store, so I did what I usually do in a case like this, I wrote up an angry rant and then went somewhere else. You can read that post right here.
I figured I would try it again sometime down the road and then at the beginning of this year it was announced that the Bergner's in Sheridan Village was going to close down. I felt bad that an iconic Peoria store and landmark was closing and even worse that I might never get to eat lunch in the old Skandia restaurant. So I called the store, got an email address to their corporate offices and sent off an email telling them I really wanted to document the break room since it was going to be closing forever. It took a couple of emails, but I finally got an okay to go and take photos. So let's go see the old Skandia restaurant and say goodbye to Bergner's in Sheridan Village.
I didn’t want to show up to Bergner’s break room empty-handed, so I got a couple pizzas and some mozzarella sticks to share with whoever happens to be there. I got the pizzas at Monical’s Pizza but didn’t take any photos inside because we were just there yesterday! Okay, we’re off and there’s Sheridan Village just ahead.
Here’s a trifecta of photos of the back of Bergner’s and...
Here’s a couple of the front of the store. That store closing sign is pretty sad but let’s suck it up and go inside.
This is Miller, who’s the manager of the store. He’s standing in front of the PJ Star article announcing the opening of Bergner’s in Sheridan Village. It’s one of three framed articles that’s in his office. And I’m proud of myself for not saying, “It’s Miller time!” when I met him because I’m sure he’s heard that well over a million times!
And here’s all three, they’re from a 1957 supplement celebrating the grand opening of this new department store in Sheridan Village.
Here’s some close-ups of the articles that are dated, March 21, 1957. Miller told me that they were thinking about donating these framed articles to the Peoria Historical Society and I think that’s a great idea.
And now here’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for, the Associates’s Lounge, which used to be Skandia Restaurant here on the second floor of Bergner's!
It’s kind of like taking a trip back in time walking in here and the booths and tables are from back in the day when this was Sheridan Village’s swankiest restaurant. The windows and view are fabulous and that’s Jeff eating his lunch at one of the booths. He told me he’s worked here at Bergner’s for 34 years. He said he wasn’t sure what he was going to do when it closed.
More nods to the past via an actual phone attached to a wall and a Star magazine celebrating Oprah’s wedding which rumors have been swirling about for years.
I took out the food I brought, a sausage pizza, mozzarella sticks and a cheese pizza.
The first two people to show up for this make-shift pizza/going away party were Kineta and Linda, both of whom have worked here since the ‘80’s. Kineta was also the Bergner’s Talking Christmas Tree for a couple of years. If you’re not familiar with the infamous Bergener’s Talking Christmas Tree, click here for a fun article about it by Phil Luciano.
Soon other’s showed up and we had a nice afternoon eating the pizza and sharing memories of Bergner’s and growing up in Peoria. The mood was definitely bittersweet and we talked about how people are sad about Bergner’s closing, but the store has seen a definite drop in shoppers in the last few years. My friend Cheryl, who works at Bergner’s put it the best in a comment on the MBIP facecrack page last Sunday: “It is just this simple...if one didn't shop there, then he or she can't complain that it is closing. Without the support of customers, what did Peoria think would happen?”
That’s so true and I hope that the closing of Bergner’s reminds us all to try and shop local whenever you can. Thanks to everyone at Bergner’s for letting me take photos of the break room and for sharing memories and stories. I wish you all good luck after the store closes and another Peoria landmark vanishes.
4125 N. Sheridan Road