Michael’s Café & Catering on the 1600 block of Main is a favorite breakfast and lunch location for a loyal contingent of regulars as well as newcomers to downtown Columbia, and a great place to socialize after hours. The restaurant is located in the historic ca. 1929, Schulte-United Building. Schulte-United was a short-lived venture between two highly successful companies, United Cigar Company, and Schulte Retail Store Corporation.
In 1921, United operated the largest chain of cigar stores in the country with nearly 900 stores, and Schulte its nearest competitor operated 210 stores. The news of a possible merger made the New York Times because of its potential to be one of the biggest tobacco deals in the history of the industry.
The negotiations did not produce results until 1928 when the two companies opened 59 Schulte-United five cents to one dollar stores throughout the country. One year later, United Cigar left the deal just before black Thursday in 1929, the start of the Great Depression.
The Schulte-united building is an unusual architectural design not recognizable as an architectural style although built during a period when Art Deco and Revival style was used extensively in commercial design. According to the 1977 publication “Columbia’s Commercial Heritage, the Schulte-United building is considered “Modernized Classic” in style.
Michael’s is proud to have played a small part in the revitalization of Main Street and the preservation of one of the historic buildings which contribute to Columbia’s rich heritage.