ROSCOE, Ill. (WTVO) — The antique neon sign that adorned Der Rathskeller, at 1132 Auburn Street, for 90 years has been sold to a private collector.
The sign was recently listed for sale at a lot at the Roscoe Woodstock Antique Mall, at 890 Lake Avenue in Woodstock.
Rockford native Ted London, who owns the antique mall, said he acquired the sign from the Rathskeller’s owners to “rescue” it. London spent several thousand dollars repairing the neon, and put it up for display in mid-January.
It attracted attention once it was posted on social media, London said. Recently, he was able to sell the sign to someone who promised to keep it in the Rockford-area.
“It needs to stay in the area,” London said. “Because it’s the only one [of its kind].”
Der Rathskeller was opened in Rockford in 1931, by Merill, Wisconsin native Fred Goetz upon returning from World War I.
Starting out as a sausage shop and delicatessen, the business eventually expanded to include the basement restaurant.
Rathskeller is a German name for a bar or restaurant located in a basement.
In 1976, the restaurant changed hands to Dick and Betty Giesen.
The restaurant was nearly destroyed by a kitchen grease fire in 2000. Following the renovation, a outdoor beer garden was added in 2009.
The Giesens put the business up for sale in both 2007 and 2015.
Giesen’s son, Mike Dupre, took over and unveiled an updated menu in 2016.
The restaurant was closed in 2019 after being in business since 1931, but new ownership took it over again during the pandemic.
It closed for good in 2021.