Friday Column Reprise
Note from Dan: While I’m on vacation, I’m treating you to some oldie-but-goodie columns from the past. This one, published March 22, brought as much reader reaction as just about anything I wrote all year. VDOT hasn’t yet torn down the building, but that’s scheduled to happen soon, to make way for Roanoke’s second traffic circle.
Roanoke will lose a piece of its history later this year.
It’s doubtful to raise the ire of any Roanoke Valley preservationists when a nondescript building along Wise Avenue in southeast Roanoke (most recently the home of Vinton Roofing) is demolished to make room for the city’s first traffic circle.
However, in years past the two-story block, brick and stucco structure was one of the most newsworthy and notorious in Roanoke.
Back in the 1960s, it was Papa Joe’s, a beer joint reputed to be the first topless bar in the Bible Belt. Its fame — or perhaps infamy — stretched for hundreds of miles.
The proprietor was George “Papa Joe” Christofis, an Egyptian-born Greek who had a mind for business and an outrageous flair for publicity. On the side of his building, he painted in large letters, “The place that made Roanoke famous.”
That was not much of an exaggeration. Read more »