Friday, April 19, 2013

The Sewer

If you passed by Book Strings & Things and hung a left into the alley you'd find a door leading to a unique sub shop with an unlikely name ...... The Sewer.

Poor T. Marshall Hahn, always getting harassed
The Sewer was the brainchild of a guy named Garth, along with his merry band of hippie friends who lived commune style out in the Ellett Valley area.   Garth scraped together $350 and proposed opening this place that would stay open way into the night, quite often up until 3 a.m.   At the time nothing else in town was open this late.

Sitting around in the living room of the old farmhouse they kicked around names.  Fellow flower-child Ken suggested "Ditch Works", but when the name "Sewer" was suggested it was instantly accepted.  After all, there was a near constant stream of water running across the floor.  Remember, Stroubles Creek flows under those buildings.

So in December of 1971 The Sewer opened it's doors.  For a mere $1.50 you could get a beast of a hoagie with turkey, ham, salami, roast beef, bologna, american and swiss cheeses, lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise, onion, Italian dressing, salt, pepper, and mustard.  Enough for two meals, easily.

Thanks to the tireless work of Garth, Doug, Ken, Paul, Bill, Joe, Anita and Barbara, there was no such thing as insatiable munchies in the early 70's in downtown Blacksburg.
The only surviving mural left at The Sewer


  1. Is this where Mish Mish was in the late 1980s?

  2. I think at one time Blacksburg Printing was the first door (the little white door in the photo). Then Blacksburg Printing left and the space became a craft shop called The Apricot Tree. You turned left at the end of the alley in the photo to go to Mish-Mish. And I think one of the (balcony?) exits from the Lyric let out back there as well.

  3. You're right about all that, Tom. There was a couple of doors, as well as windows, which have been covered in cinder block. The door showing in the picture is the only entrance at the moment. Further down the left end of the alley is a back entrance to the Lyric (from the left end of the stage).

  4. I think that door to the left was the entrance to the 1st location of Books, Strings, and Things in the 1960s. It was on that alley. The interior was very dark and moody, and there was a sparse cafe/coffee house that served a bit of food. Folk music was the order of the times, and I heard lots of Dylan acts.

  5. It was Mish Mish that did in at least one of the murals that were left from the Sewer. I was in there when one of the employees came from the back and asked if anyone remembered the pig mural -- then announced that it was being painted over.

  6. I loved the Sewer - half Italian sub was my order. And I went out with Ken a few times - I've been looking for him, anyone know where he is?

    1. Martha - Doug said the last he heard Ken was living in Vermont.

  7. At the top of the stairs and around to the left was a place called "Daddy's Money". An electrical engineer wannabe and I would leave Squires after studying for perhaps 1/2 the time necessary and head over there for some "spirit" lifting. After a year of agony, he decided to go back home and sell cameras. Some folks have too much sense to become engineers, yours truly being an exception.

  8. Garth now runs a restaurant and training center on Forest Hill Avenue in Richmond called "Max's Positive Vibe Cafe'". They train, hire and assist with placement, people with disabilities who wish to follow a career in the restaurant industry. Garth is a shining example of Virginia Tech's motto "Ut Prosim". Positive Vibe's website is

  9. Used to drive up from Richmond on Friday after work to the "Funny Farm" or just head straight to the Sewer to make subs ( American or Italian)till about 3am. Then head back to "Funny Farm" for music jams till day break. After a while I just moved up B Burg about the time New River Co.closed and it became 117. I had a wooden sign made with the name "Funny Farm" burnt in with a hot iron at South of the Border,SC. and gave it to them.