The Delta Diner sits on the locally historic site of the former
Delta Store. According to “Growing Up in a Country Store”,
the 2006 book published about the Delta area, the Town of Delta
and the Delta Store were created about the same time. The Delta
Store was built in 1923 and the Town of Delta was formed in 1924.
The Delta Store was originally built by the Bayfield Land Company,
a subsidiary of the Edward Swift Company of Chicago. Walter and
Ruth Hafner were the first store keepers. In 1925 Bill and Olga
Meyer purchased the Store and would own it for twenty-two years
until it was purchased by Bob and Irene Sikes in 1947. There would
be two more owners of the Delta Store prior to the day in 1972
when it tragically burned to the ground. The only building left
standing was the cobblestone garage to the west of the main store.
The Delta Store was the center of the universe for Delta. It
services included a general store, bar, restaurant, Post Office,
ice house, gas station and train stop for the Duluth Atlantic
and South Shore Railroad. The Store and its owners were a cohesive
catalyst for those who lived in Delta and those who visited
the area. The Store was the gathering spot for mail, news,
and provisions for all who frequented the area for nearly 50
years. For the 30 plus years that the Delta Store site remained
vacant after the fire, there was an apparent void considering
how vibrant that piece of land had once been.
Nothing like the Delta Store could ever be recreated … times
had changed, the post office and railroad had long since disappeared,
and the world of the Delta Store era had passed by. However,
this important piece of land seemed to be calling for a future
to go with its storied past. In 2003 the future was revealed
in the form of the Delta Diner.
To those who know the history and character of East Coast roadside
diners, it is ironic that a diner would be erected on the former
site of the Delta Store. Diners are great equalizers. At the
counter you will find folks from all backgrounds. They will
no doubt be having a conversation and bridging stereotypes
with regard to people from different walks of life. A social
dynamic happens that brings diverse groups of people together
in a unified experience. The Delta Store functioned much the
same way for so many years.
So here we are four years into our chapter of
the history of this site. We can only hope that our little diner
can have a fraction of the impact on future generations that
the Delta Store had in the past. If you are interested in learning
more about the Delta area, we highly recommend Pat Sykes Musil,
Billy Meyer, and Zoe von Ende Lappin’s recently published
book, “Growing Up in a County Store”, “Memories
and History of Delta and Ino, Wisconsin.” Thanks to the
publishers for sharing information used in this brief history.
This book is available at the Delta Diner.
Todd & Nina 2007