Lately, people have been asking about the history of the “Rose Garden” (2621 Link Road) in the Heights so the following is what I know to be true. First of all, the Rose Garden wasn’t always “Rose Garden”. To start at the beginning, we have to go back about eighty years or so. That’s when my grandparents, Wallace and Rosie Mozdenski, moved from Chappell Hill to the Houston Heights. The year was 1936 and they bought a house on Aurora Street just off of North Main.
My grandfather Wallace had always wanted to own and run a tavern, so in the late forties (1948 or ‘49) he bought a piece of property at the corner of Link Road and 26th Street. It was just a vacant lot then with a small two- or three-room house or “shotgun shack” as my mother (Lillian Sechelski) remembers it. There he built his tavern, named it “Wallace’s Drive-In“, and opened for business. My grandparents moved from the house on Aurora into the “shack” temporarily so they could take care of the business. They later tore it down and built the house that still stands next to the tavern today.
Back then neighborhoods were dotted with small taverns, lounges, pubs, beer joints or whatever you want to call them. Sometimes they just sold beer and soda water, and sometimes they sold a few groceries too. There was “Ted’s Place”, a stones throw down Link Road, the “White Rose” was just around the corner on Airline (What’s the deal with all these roses?), the Chappell Hill Inn was a few streets over, and down on North Main was Malinowski’s, Sap’s Place, the Peppermint Lounge, and the C&F Drive-In. No matter where you were, the only time you couldn’t get a beer in five minutes was before noon on Sunday.
Now Wallace was a fiddler and on weekends he’d get some musicians to come out and play. Man, this was the place to be! People spilled outside into the parking lot and the adjacent yard. Of course the neighbors didn’t think too much of all the cars, drinking, and loud carrying on. Wallace’s Drive-In was soon pretty popular and he realized he needed a bigger place. So he expanded another ten or so feet to the north (and probably should have gone bigger still). If you think it’s small today, you should have seen it before that!
Wallace got his drive-in going but he also soon got tired of running it. Even with family helping, he had to be there every day and that got old. He decided to go back to a regular day job but he also wanted to keep the tavern. After all, it was a pretty popular place now. So he started leasing the tavern to various individuals who wanted to try their hand at running it…and there were dozens. Each operator who leased it added their own personality, their own customers AND their own name to the place. When one operator got tired of it, there was always somebody else waiting to take over…customers came and went.
In the seventies it was almost lost in an electrical fire that happened late one night. No one was in the building at the time. Most of the damage was made by the firemen who cut a hole in the roof to pour water inside. It took a while but the place was cleaned up, repaired, and business resumed.
Rose Faterkowski took over the drive-in in the early Nineties and she named it “Rose Garden”. It was around then that it was almost “zoned” out of existence by the city zoning controversy but finally allowed to remain under a “grandfather” clause which saved it. My mother sold the property to Rose, shortly thereafter, and she remains the current owner.
The Rose Garden is alive and well in the same building where people have drank and enjoyed themselves for sixty-five years.
Here’s to the next sixty-five years….Na zdrowie!