Martin Leixner started a tailoring business in Sonoma in 1919. He was among a group of Viennese immigrants to settle the area. In 1923 he joined with another Viennese tailor, Herman Weghofer, to enlarge the business, which was located “in Fetters Springs, on the Highway, opposite the Hotel.”
In 1924, Leixner took on another partner, a Mr. Nimpfer, and another business, that of chauffer. The next year we read in the Index Tribune that “Mrs. Putnam, two children, maid and chauffer of Commonwealth Avenue, San Francisco, spent the last week end at Leixner’s Resort, one of the attractive places of the Springs. Mr. Leixner has utilized the rocky formation of the hillside where his resort is situated for rustic stone stairways, and made it otherwise very artistic.” This is undoubtedly the same site at which his tailoring business was located. At some point, Mr. Nimpher’s name appears on the resort in place of Leixner’s.
The new facade is dated 1933
Herman Weghofer went on to open his Vienna Coffee Garden just a few hundred feet south of there, a few years later.
On Friday, September 10, 1937, the Index Tribune tells us, a large group of tailors “visited their friend, Herman Weghofer, at Vienna Gardens, in Fetters Springs… This was a veritable tailor’s convention and Mr. Weghofer, who formerly tailored for the City of Paris, was very happy.”
Index Tribune, January 1, 1954-“Death Claims Mrs. R. Nimpfer, Long Time Resident of Fetters”…..She and her husband, Gottfried, who survives her, were proprietors of a Sonoma bakery form 1924 to 1929. The later became proprietors of a grocery store and resort directly opposite the Fetters Hot Springs Hotel, which they operated for nearly 20 years, until selling to Mr. and Mrs. Raymond Roy (Rohr, actually).”
In 1945Leixner and Nimpfer “branch” out.
At some point the grocery was renamed Roy’s.
1970 IT archives
1970 IT archives
Fire at Roy’s Grocery, 1970 (Index Tribune photos courtesy of the Sonoma Valley Historical Society)
In later years the buildings housed various restaurants. In 2019 a photo posted on the Facebook group “You know you’re from Sonoma when..” elicited some memories:
The building on the left that has the “Grocery” sign on the front eventually became my mother-in-law’s Mexican restaurant, Mi Tienda. (see photos above.)
Oak Tree Cantina! Mmmmm!
We use to dine on the roof and watch Juanita throw people out of her establishment!
The big one with the garage, my dad and mom leased for 5 years, it was a bar called Ev’s Stop. Lots of good times there, early 60s I think.
I spend a lot of time in Roy’s grocery watching my mom and dad play cards in the back of the the store and sometimes I would go upstairs and watch TV. And if I got bored I would walk home I lived on Hillside Ave.
Yeah we got on that roof also. So cool to have a birds eye view. Great just to hang out there.
Was that in the area of Roy’s Sharon and Shorty rented there when Brian was born.
Roy’s was the building with the two shutters sticking out.
Loved the Oak Tree!
I worked at the Oak Tree in the 80s…I miss that place!
Before Oaktree it was the Hashery.
After. It was the Oaktree first then the Hashery.
What a great memory, the Greyhound. Doesn’t look like it changed much from the 30s to the 70s.
Close-up showing fragment of Mexican restaurant sign, 2018.
April 2018. Dilapidation increases. How long can these buildings stand?
December 2018. New windows and new paint give hope!
About my first sight of these buildings: Long before I moved there (from San Francisco) I happened to take a drive down Highway 12 from Calistoga Rd. to the town of Sonoma. The setting, these buildings, and the place names, Agua Caliente, Fetters Hot Springs, Boyes Hot Springs, El Verano, immediately and permanently enthralled me. I remain enthralled.
photo collage/painting by Michael Acker
All photos by author or from his collection, except where noted. Newspaper clippings courtesy Sonoma Valley Historical Society.
Newly discovered photo of patrons relaxing at Vienna Garden Cafe.