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The New Strand Barbeque: Serving the Customer and Serving the Automobile

“Opening of a modern block three businesses Thursday marks ‘the coming of age’ of the State and Bay shopping district in Northwest Saginaw.”

-The Saginaw News, January 12, 1949.

Note: This link will take you to last week’s post about the New Strand Barbeque

While you don’t need to read last week’s post to understand this story, we strongly encourage you to do so.

When John Coenis opened what would become the New Strand Barbeque on the southeast corner of State and Bay Streets, the site was at the northwest edge of the city. To the north and west of it was mostly a vista of farm fields. His choice of location was influenced by growth in the city. To the north, the former Union Park racetrack and its pasture were being transformed into residential neighborhoods. However, even more importantly, the site was perfectly positioned to serve people who were out driving – simply for recreation.

Above: 1936 and 1950 Sanborn Maps

The New Strand Barbeque was designed to cater to people in automobiles. As Saginaw’s population grew, the State and Bay area was no longer on the edge of the urban area Coenis adapted his business to meet the changing needs of the customers and the neighborhood. When the Daniel Theatre opened April 5, 1942, an advertisement in the paper announced, “Live and Play at State and Bay, Saginaw’s newest business district.”

In 1949, the district was further transformed by the construction of a new shopping center. At that time the history of the area was described.

“Earliest business in the area was a neighborhood grocery store moved to Bay from Bond in 1897, [Harold] Wagar says.*

Information that Bay was to be paved and a trunkline highway (State Street paving was already underway) led Wagar to choose the location near the intersection for his store.

Henry Koehen, who has operated the grocery store, later moved it from Bay to State adjoining his drug store. A meat market addition was built operated by George Koehn. Later the grocery business was sold to A.C. Rentner. After Rentner’s death, both thr grocery and meat business were taken over by Arthur L. Rupprecht, who still operates them.

Other businesses who established themselves early in the State and Bay area were Fritz Passow, who ran the first gas station at the intersection, and John Coenis.

Coenis started with a refreshment wagon, selling popcorn, ice cream cones and soft drinks, not long after Wagar established his drug store, He later built a stand which he expanded gradually into the present Strand Barbeque drive-in.

Last major additions the shopping district before the present expansion came in 1940[sic]when the Daniel Theater was built by Harold Bernstein of Bay City. The Saginaw News, January 12, 1949.

*Wagar built the block of businesses and operated his own pharmacy at the location as well, the Wager-Granger-Nitz Pharmacy.

The 1949 shopping center added three new businesses: Miller Home Bakery, Moeller’s Dairy Bar and Geyer’s. With these additions to the district the New Strand Barbeque published an advertisement “There is plenty stirring out state Street these days and we, too are bidding our new neighbors a Hearty Welcome.” Recognizing the regional nature of this shopping area, the business association facilitated the construction and promotion of a large, shared parking lot.

Although the expansion of the area, meant additional competition—In 1949 at least two other places within a block of the New Strand Barbeque were serving similar menus; the location provided a growing clientele and the New Strand Barbeque thrived:

“‘Members of the Coenis Family were proud to be recognized as proprietors of a good, clean orderly place noted for its tasty variety of sandwiches, take-out dinners, soft drinks and malted milks.

Miller received a generous assist on his Strand Barbeque column from a fellow Saginaw News staffer, Ray Minard, who had been a frequent visitor during his high-school days.

Minard called the Strand ‘\a way of life for a generation of Saginaw’s younger set.’

‘The Strand was the place’ he informed Miller in his notes.

He added: ‘For those of us in Fuerbringer-Stone School area, it was a pleasant pause on the way home from Arthur Hill High School.

‘All you needed was a quarter in your pocket and you were all set to sip a tall, cool Coke and listen to the latest chitchat. In the background, the Detroit Tiger ballgame on the radio always could be heard in season.’” (From: Tom McDonald, “Looking Back, A Memory Maker.:” The Saginaw News, September 26, 1996.)

The Recipe: In Tribute to The New Strand Barbeque: A Chocolate Soda

Although we do not have a true New Strand Barbeque recipe, this version we found online is probably quite similar to what was served,


Vanilla ice cream: You can use chocolate ice cream if you want (that's a double-chocolate soda) but vanilla gives a chocolate soda a lighter flavor and feel.

Club soda: You can also use plain soda water if you have access to it.

Chocolate syrup: It's always been Hershey's for us.


  • Tall soda-type glass, or any tall glass

  • Iced tea or other long-handled spoon

  • Straw


Drop one scoop of vanilla ice cream into the bottom of a glass, Pour about 3 tablespoons of chocolate syrup on top. Use a soda spoon to mash and mix the ice cream and chocolate syrup together, until they have become a sort of chocolate ice cream slurry. Add a splash of club soda if the ice cream is too frozen to stir. The chocolate-ice cream mix should take up about ⅓ of the soda glass.

Now comes the tricky part: Using the soda spoon, slowly stir the ice cream-chocolate mixture with one hand, while at the same time very slowly pouring the club soda into the glass with your other hand.

Continue adding club soda until the glass is about three-fourths full, give or take. (Don't fill it all the way or it will overflow.)

At this point, taste the soda to make sure it’s chocolaty enough for you. (If not, just stir in a little additional chocolate syrup.)

Add another scoop of ice cream to the club soda mixture.

Finally, mount a second scoop to the rim, sidecar style. (This is optional; it can get messy!) Top it off with one last splash of club soda, pop in a straw and enjoy

What about Whipped Cream and Sprinkles?

Personally, I prefer my ice cream sodas au naturale; however, you can zhuzh yours up with whipped cream, maraschino cherries, and sprinkles to your heart's delight! Enjoy!


Club Soda: You can use tonic water; however, tonic water contains trace amounts of quinine, and give it a pronounced bitterness. You can also use plain seltzer water, but we find it doesn't have as much carbonation as we like in our sodas, and doesn't stand up to the ice cream well enough.

Chocolate syrup: Sub in any syrup you want to flavor your ice cream soda.


NOTE: After you make your chocolate ice cream sodas, take them to your car. As you enjoy them, pretend you are sitting in the parking lot of the New Strand Barbeque on the corner of State and Bay on a perfect autumn afternoon – ignore the blowing leaves. After you are done eating, remember not to drive away with your special car tray. Also, it is handy to have a roll of paper towels.


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