I’m sure the man in this picture looks very familiar to you. He’s Jim Pepe, owner of Hodge Wine & Spirits. Last night, while looking for a hardy red wine for our first snowy winter evening, I overheard the most fantastic story. The story seemed so unreal, that as I stood at the counter, I asked Jim about it and this is what he said…
“Look at the ceiling. This is the original location of Hodge that my grandfather, Anthony, opened in 1933. Same location! You know, Hodge was the first liquor store in the country to open after the Volstead Act was repealed in ’33!”
Here’s the story: In 1919, the Volstead Act was passed that provided law to enforce the recently passed 18th Amendment, prohibiting the manufacturing, sale or transportation of alcoholic beverages in the US. Prohibition, as this period was called, lasted 14 years and was finally repealed in 1933 because it was found to be “unenforceable.” December of 1933 finally brought about the ratification of the 21st Amendment, voiding the Volstead Act.
Six months prior to the ratification, establishments, including Hodge, anticipating the repeal of dreaded Prohibition, began to prepare for the opening of their new businesses. Local wineries that had been making grape juice for US distribution, geared up production of wines which they had only been distributing to Canada. Distilleries reopened. Bottle makers ratcheted up manufacturing as did all of the various supporting businesses.
On December 5th, 1933, Jim’s grandfather, Anthony, opened Hodge Liquors, one day before December 6th, which was to be the national opening day! Thus, to the best of his knowledge, Jim’s story is that Hodge Wine & Spirits is the longest continuously run liquor store in the USA!
I loved this story! It’s another tale that is so fascinating on so many levels, as many Buffalo stories are. I love the fact that the original building still remains, albeit in a modified way, but by looking at the pressed tin ceiling tiles, you’re able to see the original space. I love the fact that grandpa Anthony’s portrait is respectfully hung in a prominent place for all to see (above Jim in the accompanying photo). I love the fact that Hodge has been a continuously opened FAMILY run business for 72 YEARS! No easy task.
So thanks, Jim, for sharing this fascinating story with us.
We look forward to your 75th anniversary in 2007.
Hodge Wine & Spirits
463 Elmwood @ Hodge
The Volstead Act