Sponsored By
An organization or individual has paid for the creation of this work but did not approve or review it.



Michaels restaurant auction items spark recollections

When IBM offered him a job in 1963, Austin Jorgenson and his wife celebrated by having dinner at Michael's Restaurant. Jorgenson remembers having a 'birdbath martini' and was a bit shocked at the cost of $1.

Sometimes a glass is more than just a glass.

Most of the people wandering Michaels restaurant Tuesday to look at almost 2,000 pieces of artwork, dishes, chairs and more slated to be auctioned off had memories and stories about the iconic restaurant.

"Those frosted tall glasses remind me of coming here with my dad. He'd always order a Tom Collins, and they'd serve them in those," said Tammy King, as she looked at the tables filled with pink-tagged vases and glassware.

King's family visited the restaurant on many special outings. "The only gift certificates we ever gave to each other were for Michaels," she said.

Under the ownership of the Pappas family, Michaels was the go-to spot in Rochester for 63 years until it closed on New Year's Eve.


The restaurant will be demolished to make way for a new development, and the Pappas family has been preparing for Thursday's auction for months.

"We won't get a break until after Thursday," said George Pappas, who managed Michaels kitchen for much of his 41 years at the restaurant. "It was a great run. It was a lot of hard work, but it was great fun, and there are so many great people who worked here."

While they will get a breather after the auction, the Pappas are working on plans for a new, sleeker version of Michaels.

"We're not going to sit still. We still have it in our blood," said Michael Pappas as he pushed a cart piled with personal keepsakes and belongings that he is keeping from his office.

However, it wasn't the future that people were thinking of as they strolled through the dining room, "library," kitchen, bar and even basement filled with everything imaginable tagged with lot numbers for Thursday's auction.

Chuck and Jill Cathelyn grew up in Rochester and have been eating at Michaels "for a very long time." During those many meals, they admired the many eclectic paintings on the walls.

"The artwork is fabulous," said Jill Cathelyn as she clutched a list of paintings they plan to bid on at the auction.

Rochester City Council President Randy Staver was on hand to preview the items and remember his own history at Michaels.


"I remember there was a piano over there. We had my bachelor party around that piano back in 1978," he said.

Judd Grafe, owner of Grafe Auction, said he told his team that stories like that are why this sale is different.

"This one is special," he said as prospective bidders walked around and reminisced. "Michaels needs to go out with a bit of a party, with a bit of flair. I told them, 'We're selling kitchen equipment, art, antiques and memories.' "

For those antiques and memories, the Pappas family has asked Rochester auctioneer and longtime friend John Kruesel to work with Grafe on the auction.

People will be able to bid on keepsakes such as menus, steak knives, signs and toothpick holders, as well as huge pieces of antique furniture. Many attending the preview signed up in person for auction bid cards. Others plan to pre-bid online as well as during the live auction on Thursday.

Also on the auction block will be the massive, unique bronze doors that so many locals, visitors and even celebrities passed through over the years.

Michael Pappas explained that people will not see the many autographed photos of famous sports, movie and TV celebrities at the auction. However, copies of all of the photos eventually will be available because many photos included local families.

The plan is to eventually scan all of the photos and post them on the restaurant's website. Copies will be available for order at cost, according to the Pappas family.


"They are history, Rochester's history," he said.

What To Read Next
Get Local