Ethnic Heritage Museum honors four local businesses

Businesses representing ethnic groups that settled in southwest Rockford recognized Sept. 12

The Ethnic Heritage Museum, 1129 S. Main St., honored four local businesses with backgrounds representing ethnic groups that settled in southwest Rockford on Sunday, Sept. 12. Displays will remain for the month of September.

Businesses honored this year are: The Canaan Restaurant, the Polish Deli, Boves’ Auto & Truck Service and Gaffney Bolt & Nut Co.

The Canaan Restaurant, 330 College Ave., formerly the Campus Diner, was started by the Rev. Lorenzo Thurman at his church, in partnership with Rev. Clayborn Salter. When Thurman died and Salter retired, the diner was taken over by Rev. Theodore and Patricia Robinson. The location was changed to the old Tower supermarket, which was remodeled to become the Canaan Restaurant. Patricia Robinson has been the cook since its inception, and the restaurant specializes in soul food.

The Polish Deli, 3002 Charles St., is owned by Mirek Podczaski. It features pastry and a hot food buffet, sandwiches and soup for take-out.

Boves’ Auto & Truck Service, 1118 Ferguson St., is owned by Joseph Bove. The place has been in business for more than 40 years and has enhanced its southwest Rockford neighborhood by landscaping the entire block.

Gaffney Bolt & Nut Co. was originally founded in 1862 as Rockford Bolt Works. Ted Gaffney acquired the company from the owners in 1931 and changed the name to Gaffney. In 1958, Michael A. Gaffney graduated from Georgetown University and joined the firm then owned by Ted and Ray Gaffney. In 1962, Michael’s brother, John Patrick, joined the firm. In 1967, the company was sold to Keystone Railway Equipment. Michael Gaffney stayed with Keystone, but John Patrick didn’t. In 1971, Keystone left for Pennsylvania, and Michael went along. In 1974, Michael left Keystone, returned to Rockford and started it all over again himself. In 1984, his older son, Michael P., graduated from Creighton University, came back to Rockford and founded Forest City Bolt. In 1987, the two companies merged. This Irish-American family has kept it going since 1931.

Ethnic Heritage Museum hours are Sundays, 2-4 p.m., otherwise by appointment. Call 962-7402 or 877-2888.

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