This month's Spotlight is
The Peanut Bar.
Jimmie Kramer, the child of Russian immigrants
who came to America in the early 1900's, father and grandfather of the
present - day owners and operators of The Peanut Bar, began his business
81 years ago in the resort community of South Mountain in Wernersville,
PA. The year was 1924; the era was Prohibition; and the establishment,
which still stands today, was known as The Green Terrace Hotel.
is unclear just how long Jimmie operated at this or any other of the many
locations which his business occupied from 1924 'til he opened at 332 Penn
Street in 1933. It is certain however, that this colorful and enterprising
young man was continuously on the move during these years. The "dry's"
would raid, close his place down and quickly he would reopen at another
location. It is definitely known, for instance, that in the mid-twenties
he owned and operated a white tablecloth "speakeasy" on the north side of
Penn between 4th and 5th Streets. With its black onyx dance floor, hat
check girls in brief costumes and dance bands such as "Charlie Keller and
His Hot Shots", The Central Cafe must have been quite the rage. With the
repeal of Prohibition in August of 1933, "Jimmie Kramer's" The Olde
Central Cafe was legally born. Records indicate that in March, 1934, the
first legal liquor license was issued at the 332 Penn Street address.
And as for the peanuts….Jimmie introduced them in 1935, insisting his
customers toss the cracked shells on the floor; well, they became part of
our trademark.. In the same year, another event took place which was to
change forever the face of the business. Annie "Mom" Kramer arrived and
with her brought her pots and pans. Soon The Olde Central Cafe was serving
soups and hot platters along with such delicacies as lobster tails at 35
cents, breaded haddock at 10 cents, and, of course, those much
sought-after crab cake platters at 25 cents.
Since those early days, two generations have followed. The daughters, Edie
and Beatie married, bringing their husbands into the business. Under
Harold's (Beatie’s husband) able leadership, the now renamed Jimmie
Kramer's The Peanut Bar, grew and prospered. He brought retail experience
and proper accounting principles into play, thereby guiding the Peanut Bar
into the mid 1950’s and paving the way for the third generation to join
Today under Michael's management, the front of the house thrives with new
marketing ideas and special events. The back of the house, or kitchen, is
managed by Executive Chef Michael Geary, who leads the talented kitchen
staff through preparation of the tried and true, as well as, the
ever-evolving, eclectic cuisine.
The staff now includes 60 dedicated people. The dining room has grown from
an 8 table area in the rear to a three building restaurant seating
approximately 225 people. The atmosphere is still that of an old time bar
room complete with excellent service, innovative cocktails and succulent
dishes. The melting together of the old and new is what truly gives the
Peanut Bar its unique character and flavor.
The Peanut Bar • 332 Penn St. • Reading, PA
610/376-8500 • 800/515-8500email: