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Frank Gray

Frank Gray | The Journal Gazette
Vicki Statler, left, and Teresa Pflueger are two sisters who own and run the Fountain inside the Linclon Tower building, along with their brother and mother.

Eatery gets special patron

Lincoln Tower café owners delighted by bishop’s visit

The Tower Fountain is a tiny little eatery just off the lobby of the Lincoln Tower on Berry Street.

It’s been there for decades, selling sandwiches, soups, drinks from its ancient soda fountain, but there’s no sign in the bank lobby so it’s easy to miss.

But for years lawyers and judges and others have been dropping in. The place was run by one man for 37 years, and in 1985 sisters Vicki Statler and Teresa Pflueger and their brother Danny Roach took over the place with their mother.

Some famous folks have shown up there. Mariel Hemingway and David Carradine dropped by when they were shooting a movie in the bank tower. They have photos of them.

And there are ordinary people.

“We get people in here going to court,” Statler said. “They’ll give you their life history, what they’re going to court for,” whether they want to hear it or not.

One man who had been shot by police and was going to court showed off his wounds. They didn’t really want to see that, Statler said.

You aren’t allowed to carry cellphones into the Courthouse, so people will leave their phones at the Tower Fountain while they’re in court. Hey, it brings people in, and when they come to pick up their phones, maybe they’ll buy something, Statler says.

“One guy left his phone and never came back,” Statler said. “I don’t think he had a very good day.”

But not everyone has dropped in at the fountain.

The other day the two sisters were talking to Superior Court Judge Stanley Levine. They are devout Catholics, and they mentioned that the bishop, Kevin Rhoades, had never had lunch there.

That isn’t unusual. John D’Arcy was bishop for 25 years and he never ate there, either.

But Levine, who is Jewish, vowed he’d get the bishop in there for lunch. He approached Jerry Henry, whose father ran Catholic Charities for years.

“He wasn’t the first I asked,” Levine said. “I asked some prominent Catholics and they couldn’t pull it off. I had to ask Jerry.”

But what do you know, one day last week, who appeared but the bishop, ready to have lunch with Henry and Levine at the Tower Fountain.

It was a pleasant lunch, what I saw of it. Henry told a joke. Levine told a funny story about his family. The bishop, who said he normally just goes home for lunch and has some cereal, ordered a sandwich named after someone, and the sisters prepared the meal. I left before they ate.

“I loved it,” Pflueger said. All she did was serve him, but it meant a lot to her.

“It was neat, even though we didn’t get to talk.” They were, after all, busy feeding other customers.

So it was sort of Levine’s Christmas present to the sisters, through Henry, and the bishop’s gift to them.

Frank Gray reflects on his and others’ experiences in columns published Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. He can be reached by phone at 461-8376, by fax at 461-8893, or by email at You can also follow him on Twitter @FrankGrayJG.