Traverse City Record-Eagle


April 15, 2014

Old Hampel's Safe & Lock Shop demolished

TRAVERSE CITY — The old Hampel’s Safe & Lock Shop has been demolished to make way for a family friendly café.

An energy-efficient building soon will be built on the lot, and become home to Elf Café, which stands for Eat, Learn Frolic. The café will have a grab-and-go healthy food menu, seating and indoor and outdoor play areas.

“Basically, you’ll grab your food, get your coffee or juice and you’ll take it to a seat,” said Elf Café co-founder Ellen Fred. “The kids will play, you can see them from the café area, they’ll come back and eat.”

Fred said she and co-founder Melissa Whitman hope to open Elf Café in August.

Neighbor Nancy Vogl is happy to see change in the neighborhood north of Front Street near Sleder’s and the Dairy Lodge.

“(Hampel’s) is an establishment that’s been around a long time, and there’s honor in that,” she said. “We’re excited. It needed to go where it moved to, and it needed to clean up that block. We know they’re going to do some nice things with that property.”

Vogl said Elf Café will complement her child-oriented lifestyle. She’s a grandmother, a children’s book author and has a little free library filled with children’s literature in front of her home.

“The change is good for our street and it’s good for the other establishments that are around,” she said.

Hampel’s moved to the old Myers Printing building on Mackey Drive, a facility with five times the showroom space.

“It’s easier access on and off South Division here than it was on North Division up at Randolph,” said Hampel’s employee Jack Fellows. “The sheer traffic pattern has helped us out there.”

Hampel’s had been in its Randolph Street location since 1919, and opened in the new location nine weeks ago. Fellows said it’s the oldest key and gun shop in the world, and has been owned by the same family since it opened.

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