Old Newspaper StoriesPhoto Du JourWindsor

Elmwood Casino – Part III

The first incarnation of the Elmwood Hotel, which was fined several times for liquor violations was destroyed in a $50,000 fire, December 19, 1943. The owners at the time seemed to flout any rules openly, and were constantly under scrutiny. They started building the “new” Elmwood in 1944, and were in trouble for building with steel despite a war time embargo against steel use due to the war effort, as stated in the article below from September 8, 1945.

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The new Elmwood Hotel, slated to be the super-roadhouse, of this district, is under investigation today by authorities of the Construction Control office of the Department of Munitions and Supply at Ottawa. A complete check-up on the unfinished building will be made to ascertain if the owners have completed further construction in contravention of the control office’s order. Above is a view of the hotel taken when the government issued a “stop work” order against its owners in May, 1944. Since then they received permission for a few necessary additions to the exterior and the heating system, but Ottawa authorities now are probing reports that more than the permitted work has been completed.

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BANKRUPTCY HITS ELMWOOD

Windsor Star – December 30, 1974

The Elmwood Casino which has been featuring top international stars for nearly 30 years is bankrupt, it was confirmed Sunday. A news release, concerning the status of the Elmwood is expected to be issued today by Samuel Helfenbaum, who has been appointed receiver.

Al Siegel, owner of the Elmwood, declared voluntary bankruptcy in a Lond court Friday, according to Jerry Friedman a bankruptcy trustee from Toronto.

Mr. Siegel, was a driving force in, the establishment of the Windsor Raceway in 1965 and was president for about five years. He lost control of the raceway in a bitter proxy battle that saw control turned over to a Montreal group, headed by Jean Louis-Levesque.

For years the Elmwood drew large crowds to hear performers like Tony Bennett, Vic Damone, Ella Fitzgerald, Xavier Cugat, Eddie Fisher, Milton Berle, Rudy Vallee, Sammy Davis jr., Sid Ceasar and, Jimmy Durante.

The popularity of Las Vegas with its super-hotels and super-fee’s for entertainers, had largely priced the Elmwood out of the top star market by the early 1970’s. Tom Jones for example, was one of the last big stars to appear at the Elmwood and collected a fee of $100,000 for 10 days in 1972.The cover charge alone was $10 for each patron.

In the last few years, Mr. Siegel made an effort to maintain the solvency of the club by changing, the format and the name to that of a dinner-theatre club. The change hasn’t been as successful as anticipated.

In recent months Mr. Siegel has been unable to settle agreementswith waiters and waitresses in collec-(unlegible smuged line).

The Elmwood has been closed since Dec. 21 and there were no plans to open for the traditional New Year’s Eve celebrations that have been featured each year at the club.

Mr. Friedman said it is hoped the club will eventually reopen but when is unclear. Frankly we’re spending our time now trying to determine the exact financial position of the club. “We hope to sell it. It would be better if it was still operating but that may not be possible.”

Mr. Freidman said a more critical cash flow situation will develop if the doors are re-opened now that bankruptcy has been declared. He said vendors will almost certainly will (sic) deal with the club on a strict cash only basis.

Mr. Friedman said creditors will meet Jan. 20 at which time there may be an indication as to whether the club will re-open.

Mark Brown, manager until receivership was ordered Friday, said it was a very shocking surprise. We were really kept in the dark about this: he (Mr. Helfenbaum) walked in and took over the keys, and that was it.

Mr. Brown said Mr. Helfenbaum is acting as representative of the Toronto firm of (smuged line – unreadable) whom he understands arc chartered accountants.

About 80 employees were involved in the Elmwood operation. Some will be kept on to service the Cantonese Room, a dining room, the Beachcomber Bar and Lounge and the Elmwood Motel, all a part of the big Dougall avenue complex.

The Ambassador Room will remain closed. Mr. Brown says “it seems there will be a definite curtailment of operations.” He added “they can lock it, sell.it, or operate it, I don’t know.”

Mr. Brown says he understands holders of mortgages are the principal creditors, and a meeting of creditors is planned shortly.

Mr. Brown has been with the Elmwood, almost since its opening 30 years ago, working up from bus boy, waiter and Maitre de (sic) to the managerial post. He says he has no immediate plans for the future, other than “to rest awhile.”

Mel Louis catering manager, another ‘veteran’employee, whose services were ended when the big Ambassador showroom closed Jan. 21, has taken over as manager of Mike Drakich’s downtown Top Hat.

Ken Brown, business agent for Local 743 Hotel and Restaurant worker (smuged line again) Elmwood employees, said he hasn’t been contacted by the company and doesn’t know what its plans are.

He said if the Elmwood continues to operate under trusteeship, “our people will continue to work under their collective agreement.”

If only the Elmwood’s Ambassador Room is closed, It will probably mean about 25 unionized employees will be laid off.

The employees have been working under the terms of a contract which expired last July. On. Dec. 19 Mr. Brown said the union had no intention of calling a strike in the near future.

Mr. Brown said there is no shortage of hotel workers in Windsor at present, “but none of our people are on layoffs.”

Local 743 has about 450 members in Windsor.

January and February are traditionally poor months for hotel business in Canada and few hotels do any hiring at this time of year, said Mr.Brown.

He said business would improve if there were more hotel rooms available in Windsor because more conventions could be brought here.

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Windsor Star – December 2, 1983

OUT WITH THE OLD…

THE “WOOD” IN THE NAME is the only similarity between what was once the Elmwood and is now Brentwood. Brentwood, the recovery home for alcoholics, is moving over from its overcrowded Sandwich Street headquarters to the venerable Elmwood Casino building on Dougall Road. A $750,000 renovation project is in full swing, changing the building from a hall geared to serving booze into a centre for battling alcoholism. Working on the rooftop sign Thursday were Brian Ives (left) and Joe Strasburg. The Brentwood organization is planning a fund drive for early in the new year to help pay for the renoations. It will be several months before they move.

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Quite a long and interesting history on this place, another part of Windsor’s colourful past.

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