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From the Historian: An old building resides within Riki’s Restaurant

Bill Poray
A 1960 photograph of the Fairport Lunch and Hotel at 25 N. Main St.

You may have noticed the engraved words high on the facade of the red brick building on North Main Street, the home of a popular village destination Riki’s Family Restaurant. The large rectangular stone panel reads, “Fairport Hotel — 1930.” Many, including myself, have taken the sign at face value and have concluded that the structure was built at that time. As is often the case, it is not that simple. A study of maps, photographs and items from our old newspapers reveals the rest of the story.

Evidence of a smaller wood-frame building on the site exists in two forms: the 1885 Birds-Eye View of Fairport and an insurance map of the same year. The map confirms the presence of a meat market in the building. Newspaper articles identify the market was owned by W.H. Jerrells, a farmer and Civil War veteran.

By 1892, Jerrells moved his market to another location and a hardware store opened on the first floor. The upper level contained a tin shop and billiard hall. The building was purchased in 1910 by H.H. Brydges, who relocated his hardware store from another nearby building. In 1928, Peter, Michael and Christopher Antonakis purchased the narrow, deep wood-frame storefront from Brydges. The brothers previously operated a tiny restaurant known as Trolley Lunch, a few steps south of the hardware store. They worked day and night to expand their restaurant in the former hardware store.

The Antonakis brothers were successful and, in 1930, construction of the new brick building began. The old wood frame hardware store was not torn down, but instead was incorporated into the new building. Evidence of this is found in insurance maps prior to and after the modifications made in 1930. They indicate that the new masonry and brick building was added to the old 1880s structure, which is the north portion of the current Riki’s building.

The grand opening of the Antonakis brother’s new restaurant and hotel occurred in March 1931. The Fairport Herald-Mail provided a detailed description of the facility, including a dining room with capacity for 100 people, 16 stools at a long oak counter, and “toilet and wash facilities” in the basement. In addition, 12 sleeping rooms and two bathrooms were incorporated into the second floor.

With a healthy dose of hometown pride, the local newspaper gushed, “It is no exaggeration to state that Mr. Antonakis’ new place is not excelled by anything of its kind in any town the size of Fairport, and even in the large cities.”

Christopher Antonakis survived his brothers and retained ownership of the building until his death in 1979. Riki’s opened five years later and has been a mainstay in the community ever since.

Bill Poray is historian for the town of Perinton.