Drive-Thru Demolished In Ridgeville Corners
It operated under several names over the years.
Wilbur Wesche, rural Ridgeville Corners, is 90 years old.
“It was there long before I was,” he said
“There were a lot of owners of it. It was a High Speed gas station, operated out of Defiance,” he said.
At one time, the front of the building featured a tall tower or steeple. Also, he remembers that about 15 feet was taken off the front of the building to move it back from the highway.
When he was in school, it “was the first stop for a cigarette after school and at noon hour. Everybody went to the High Speed for a cigarette. It was well known for that,” he said.
Dexter Benecke, who graduated from Ridgeville High School in the early 1960s, remembers Al Sonnenberg running the operation in the 1950s. In the late 1950s, the station was operated by Dave and Al Imthurn, of Evansport.
“When we were in high school, Imthurns used to build hot rods up there. So Wayne Aschemeier and I decided to get into the hot rod business.”
Together, Benecke and Aschemeier built a hot rod.
“Someone drove it over to Bryan, and raced it on the Bryan (dirt oval) track.
“They rolled it over the edge of the track and totaled it,” Benecke said.
“That was the end of our hot rod business.”
Today, the remains of that car still sit in a woods someplace, he added.
In the late 1970s, Bruce Fortier of Ridgeville Corners started Little German Village, a shop specializing in the sale and repair of made-in-Germany Volkswagen vehicles.
So he sold the business, and began thinking about a convenience store. There wasn’t any kind of a store in town at the time.
“I was talking to one of the guys from City Beverage (a beer wholesale firm in Defiance). He got a big smile on his face, and said, “Bruce’s Juices!”
The name stuck.
Fortier operated the convenience store from 1981 to 1995, then sold the business. It operated for five more years after that.
Running the convenience store was a 365-days-ayear, seven-day-a-week, 10-to-15-hours-a-day job, he said.
But it did provide a story or two.
For example, there was a time a wedding reception ran out of beer at 8 pm, but the party was still going strong. Fortier said he stayed open until 1 am that night, as those attending the reception bought out his entire stock.
Then there was the time two buses stopped out front, and students on a class trip went shopping.
“They stationed four teachers inside, and the kids emptied the store. I ran the cash register until my fingers went numb.”
Bruce’s Juices was open 10 am to 10 pm; at times, Fortier said he had to get a second job, from 6 am to 10 am.
He also had a video rental business in the building.
Fortier started a pawnbroker business with Bruce Hesterman in a 16-square-foot wooden building on the same property as Bruce’s Juices.
A pawnbroker loans out money, using personal property as collateral.
In 1995, after Fortier failed in an attempt to rezone the Ridgeville building for a pawn business, Fortier said he sold everything in Ridgeville and moved to a property north of Defiance on St. Rt. 66.
Along with him went the 16 square-foot building.
He and Hesterman parted ways, with Hesterman operating a pawn business east of Delta.
The convenience store continued on under different names, including Skeeters and the Ridge Drive Thru.
Hesterman said his wife and the wife of Roger Miller owned the old building in Ridgeville. He declined to provide the women’s names.
The building was torn down because it was no longer economically feasible to maintain, Hesterman said.
Grass seed will be planted on the lot.
There are no current plans to develop the property.
“It will be just grass for now,” Hesterman said.