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The Hub Cap Cafe opens at America On Wheels

Authentic 1953 soda fountain to offer floats, ice cream, other treats

America On Wheels volunteer Gordon Barry, Discover Lehigh Valley President Michael Stershic, state Sen. Pat Browne and AOW Board Officer Alan Gross mark the opening of The Hub Cap Café.

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ALLENTOWN, Pa. – America On Wheels celebrated the opening of The Hub Cap Café on Dec. 3 with ribbon-cutting help from state Sen. Pat Browne, R-16; Discover Lehigh Valley President Michael Stershic and more than 200 guests at the museum’s annual Midnight Memories Gala.

The $200,000 project, funded by a Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development grant obtained with assistance from Sen. Browne, includes an authentic 1953 Bastian & Blessing soda fountain acquired from the former Weber’s Pharmacy in Lyons, Indiana and reconstructed on the second floor of the museum’s administration wing – the former headquarters for the Arbogast & Bastian Meat Co.

“This is a piece of Americana, a real time capsule,” said Alan Gross, second vice president of the AOW Board of Directors, who helped cut the ribbon. Gross thanked supporters and volunteers who were instrumental in finding the fountain and bringing it to Allentown.

The 23-foot long fountain includes the soda bar; back bar, grill and shelving; as well as the original stools, tables and booth seats from the old pharmacy. Gross said the equipment had been dormant since the pharmacy went out of business in 1963 but everything had been covered and protected.

Browne also thanked supporters and praised the museum for its success and its role as a keystone for redevelopment along the Lehigh River in Allentown.

“I always thought that this was a perfect place for a museum of over-the-road transportation,” Browne said of the location at Front and Hamilton streets. “This site has been a transportation center in the Lehigh Valley for 400 years, including the river, the Lehigh Canal and the streets, roads and highways that have sprung up around it. It is a great catalyst for the redevelopment of the riverfront in Allentown.”

The Hub Cap Café will be open during all normal museum hours and available for private parties during and after normal hours. The menu will include sundaes, milk shakes, ice cream floats, ice cream, hot dogs and pizza, said AOW Executive Director Linda Merkel. The Hub Cap also features a juke box with 1950s music to add to the atmosphere.

W2A Design Group, Serfass Construction Co., Orlando Diefenderfer Electrical Contractors and MBI HVAC Inc, all of Allentown, served as architectural and construction contractors for the fountain’s installation and rehabilitation of the once-vacant second-floor of the old A&B headquarters building.

Meanwhile, the museum also offers “The Train Time Charity Holiday Exhibit” of model trains in all of the galleries and several other rooms in conjunction with its second annual partnership with the U.S. Marine Corps reserves and several other partners in the 2010 Toys for Tots collection.

Visitors can also enjoy the exhibit called “The British Are Coming!,” which runs through the end of the year. In addition, America On Wheels will host a special art exhibit titled “Trains, Planes and Automobiles” featuring the works of renowned artists James Doddy and Charles Vlasics.

Numerous other special events are scheduled throughout December for children, adults and enthusiasts of all ages. Please go to for the most up-to-date listing of the events dates and times.

Easily accessible to a half-dozen other renowned cultural institutions in Allentown, AOW celebrates our nation’s love affair with motorized and non-motorized over-the-road transportation and its permanent exhibits range from the Nadig – one of America’s first automobiles, produced in Allentown – to the massive Mack Trucks that helped America become the most powerful nation in the world.

AOW also offers hands-on playtime exhibits and learning centers for the children and a souvenir shop for race fans and anyone with an affinity for our automotive legacy.

America On Wheels is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Ticket prices are $9 for adults, $6 for senior citizens and students ages 13 to 16. Children 12 and under are admitted free for this special holiday exhibit.

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