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Schuler’s is a restaurant in Marshall, Michigan.

History

Schuler’s began in 1909 when Albert Schuler, Sr. (1884-1971) opened a restaurant on Main Street that quickly expanded to include a bakery and a lunch counter. By the mid-1920s Albert had sold the property on Main Street and purchased the larger Royal Hotel and Restaurant at the northeast corner of Eagle and Green Streets – whose name was immediately changed to Schuler's. In 1934 Albert turned the management of the hotel over to his sons, Winston and Albert, Jr.

Winston "Win" J. Schuler (1908-93) had a degree in history and was fresh from teaching when he began his work at his father’s 20-seat restaurant. Expansion was key: in 1940 the Frontier Room was added to the Marshall location and the adjacent building became a bowling alley. That didn’t play out the way it had been expected and, in 1946, was converted into the Centennial Room – a dining room with words of wisdom stenciled in Old English script on its ceiling beams. Another piece of the building, a former stable, was renovated in 1948 to become the Charles Dickens Room, described on an era postcard as:

...giant hearthstones around a crackling fire; walls lined with familiar Dickens characters - this is the cozy atmosphere of old-world friendliness...

Bar-Scheeze

A crock of Bar-Scheeze.

In 1952, Win introduced the original recipe for Bar-Scheeze, a spread consisting of cheese, horseradish and Worcestershire – part of Schuler's philosophy to offer guests something delicious as soon as seated.

The company expanded to other locations with similar Old World themes: the restaurant in Jackson also included references to Dickens, and the Saint Joseph restaurant had a decor centered around the life and times of England’s celebrated Dr. Samuel Johnson. Back in the Marshall, the Dickens Room was remodeled in the 1970s and 80s to become the more contemporary Signature Room dining area.

In 1959, Hans Schuler, Win's son, joined the family business and was named Chairman and President of the company in 1970. His son, Larry, the fourth generation member of the Schuler family, joined in 1984. This longevity is unique:

According to the Family Firm Institute (FFI), nearly 70% of family-owned businesses fail before reaching the second generation, 88% fail by the third, and only about 3% survive to the fourth[1].
Schuler's was proclaimed a Michigan Historic site in 1977[2].

Hans Schuler

Hans Schuler, current restaurant president and classmate of Bellairs.

Bellairs worked at Schuler’s in the late 1950s and though his time there was apparently short, it was none the less memorable for some. Ann LaPietra related a story of celebrating John’s birthday at her bookstore, the kids’ place, in the late 1980s and having two older gentlemen argue about whether Bellairs was the best or worst busboy the restaurant ever had[3]. Hans Schuler, who was in the same Marshal High School graduation class as Bellairs, says the future author was indeed a bus boy but “always found it difficult to carry a tray, which was, of course, one of the primary requirements of the job.[4]” College friend Alfred Myers remembers John working there in the summer of 1957 “but as a host in the lobby, wearing a suit and tie. He either didn’t like the job, had a run-in with Win Schuler, or both - but he quit that job in late summer, never to return.[5]"

Dickens Room Postcards

Bellairs was a long-time fan of the works of British author Charles Dickens[6] and its easy to assume his interest stemmed from readings in college.  It could just as well have been helped along with the restaurant's Dickens Room.  His employment as a bus-boy would have been shortly after Win Schuler honored his own love of history and literature by renovating the north side of his popular eatery into the Dickens Room.  The illustrations dotting the room were by noted British artist Joseph Clayton Clarke (1856-1937), who worked under the pseudonym Kyd.  His Dickens illustrations first appeared in 1887 with two published collections appearing shortly after as The Characters of Charles Dickens (1889) and Some Well Known Characters from the Works of Charles Dickens (1892)[7].  Some of these characters were in turn used by Schuler's on promotional postcards.

Card Characters
Schuler's Restaurant Dickens postcard - weller-jingle
  • Mr. Weller, senior; this is Tony Weller, Sam’s father (the “old ‘un”), who is a stage coachman and a stout, red-faced, elderly man, fond of drink and tobacco (The Pickwick Papers, 1836).
  • Alfred Jingle, the strolling player with “an indescribable air of jaunty impudence and perfect self-possession” whose bizarre anecdotes raise a few eyebrows (The Pickwick Papers, 1836).
Schuler's Restaurant Dickens postcard - gamp-dawkins
  • Mrs. Sarah "Sairey" Gamp, who habitually carries with her a battered black umbrella. So popular with the Victorian public was the character that gamp became a slang word for an umbrella in general (The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit, 1843–44).
  • The Artful Dodger (good ol’ Jack Dawkins), who nickname is still commonly used to refer to someone who is good at avoiding responsibility or the consequences of his or her actions (Oliver Twist, 1838).
Schuler's Restaurant Dickens postcard - swiveller-pickwick
  • Richard "Dick" Swiveller, who enjoys quoting and adapting literature to describe his situations (The Old Curiosity Shop, 1840).
  • Samuel Pickwick, the founder of the Pickwick Club himself, who in the text is usually portrayed by illustrators as a round-faced, clean-shaven, portly gentleman wearing spectacles (The Pickwick Papers, 1836).
Schuler's Restaurant Dickens postcard - bardell-buzfuz
  • Mrs. Martha Bardell – “a comely woman of bustling manners and agreeable appearance” – who was Mr. Pickwick’s widowed landlady in Goswell Street (The Pickwick Papers, 1836).
  • Serjeant Buzfuz, the fat-bodied, red-faced, prosecuting counsel in the trial between Bardell and Pickwick (The Pickwick Papers, 1836).
Schuler's Restaurant Dickens postcard - stiggins-marchioness
  • Mr. Stiggins, a “prim-faced, red-nosed man” who is a dissenting minister and deputy shepherd of the Emmanuel Chapel at Dorking and, while preaching temperance, has a fondness for rum (The Pickwick Papers, 1836).
  • The Marchioness, the tiny, wretched and half-starved servant-girl employed by Sampson and Sally Brass, who later is known as Sophronia Sphynx (The Old Curiosity Shop, 1840).

Bellairs Corpus

External links

References

  1. "Schuler's Wins in Downtown Marshall."  Eat It Detroit (Jul. 7, 2011).
  2. MichMarkers.com
  3. Correspondence with Ann LaPietra.
  4. Correspondence with Hans Schuler (2001).
  5. Correspondence with Alfred Myers.
  6. "John Bellairs".  Fifth Book of Junior Authors, 1983.
  7. Wikipedia: Joseph Clayton Clarke

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