The Delta Diner sits on the historic site of the 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. Services included a general store, bar, restaurant, Post Office, icehouse, 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 a void considering how vibrant that piece of land had once been.
Nothing like the Delta Store could 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 regarding 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 fourteen years (2017) into our chapter of the history of this site. We can only hope that our 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.