Anagnostis Sakelliadis, “Liquor Violation”, 5 June 1948

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On the summer evening in 1948 when the police raided liquor establishments across New Castle following the death of Anna Grace Robertson earlier in the year, fifteen people were arrested. Among them were Elizabeth Miller, a bartender at the Rex café, and Anagnostis Sakelliadis, who ran the Square Deal café on West Washington street, which was the last place that Anna Grace was seen the night she died. Anna Grace’s mother worked there, but was elsewhere on the night of the raid.

Anagnostis—who eventually changed his name to James Sakelson—had come to New Castle in 1910, from the Aegean island of Karpathos, and had run restaurants in town ever since. He bought the premises for the Square Deal in 1941, taking over from an unsuccessful grocery store, the Orange Car, which had sold nothing but fruit from the proprietor’s own citrus groves in Florida. He installed modern kitchen equipment, two thirty-foot-long formica-topped bars and all-new fixtures and fittings. By the time it was raided, the Square Deal was one of the most popular lunch counters in the city.

The police charged Anagnostis with selling liquor to visibly intoxicated persons and to persons of known intemperate habits, and the State Liquor Control Board shut the café down for seventy-five days. It survived the temporary closure, but nothing could save it from the decline of downtown New Castle.

From the middle of the fifties, the Square Deal suffered regular robberies—crates of liquor taken from behind the bar; hundreds of dollars lifted from the till. Fights—with knives, razors and guns—became quite common. In 1964, the year before Anagnostis’s wife died, there were three break-ins and a stabbing. The streets around the café had become dilapidated, most of the stores abandoned. Anagnostis sold the Square Deal to Buzz Panella, who ran it for only a few years until 1967, when the building was condemned. It was torn down the following year, along with every block in the surrounding nineteen acres, to make way for the Towne Mall indoor shopping plaza and a Sears, Roebuck store.

Anagnostis moved to Florida to live near his sons. He died there in June 1968, at the age of sixty-eight.

Sources: New Castle News (6 Dec 1929, “Greek Americans Elect Officers”; 17 Nov 1939, “Orange Car Advertisement”; 9 Dec 1942, “Grand Jury Reports”; 7 June 1948, “Fifteen Facing Liquor Charges”; 23 June 1948, “Proprietors Of Liquor Places Held For Court”; 15 Feb 1949, “License Suspended”; 21 Oct 1952, “Deaths Of The Day”; 20 Feb 1954, “Café Burglarised; About $175 Stolen”; 27 April 1956, “Vending Machine Thieves Hit Twice In City Today”; 2 Jan 1957, Thieves Take $45 From Restaurant”; 27 Feb 1958, “Whiskey Reported Stolen From Café”; 22 Jun 1961, “Two Charged”; 27 Dec 1961, “Lock Tried”; 27 Aug 1962, “Whisky Stolen”; 22 June 1963, “Local Man Charged With Gun Violation”; 24 Aug 1963, “$186, 7 Bottles Of Whisky Stolen In 3 Burglaries”; 17 June 1964, “Police Check Burglary, Vandalism”; 29 Sep 1964, “Window Pryed”; 12 Oct 1964, “Tavern Burglarized”; 28 Oct 1965, “Deaths Of The Day”; 7 May 1966, “Two Treated For Stab Wounds”; 2 Dec 1966, “Square Deal Café Advertisement”; 25 April 1967, “Planners Ask Grant”; 2 Jan 1968, “Public Sales”; 24 Oct 1968, “Property Transfers”).

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