Loop Back: Record-Holding Retailer
Built in 1884, the building at 224 North 1st Street was long associated with the city’s fur and hide industry, starting with two major firms: Berman Brothers and John Mack and Company.
But from 1945–when Isaac Ribnick and his son, Burt, began their business here–until the end of 2021, the facility was in the Ribnick family, a 76-year run that is far and away the record holder for a retailer in the North Loop.
Historic photos show a period in the 1970s and early 80s when the building was painted in a garish shade of mustard yellow. Third generation owner Bill Ribnick says he can’t remember how or why that happened. “It was hideous,” he said. “It makes me cringe when I see those photos.”
In 1987, the Ribnick family bought the property next door, which was then home to Shanus Trucking. They tore that business down and built an addition to their store in 1988. City leaders insisted that the new building have design elements that blended in with the historic structure, although they didn’t want it to be an exact match.
Bill Ribnick has been told that when the original building went up in 1884, it was built as a fishery, with underground tunnels leading to the Mississippi River. According to the stories he’s heard, boatloads of fish would be delivered to those tunnels and then delivered to the fishery. Those tunnels no longer exist.
In 2022, Chef David Fhima and his family gave the building a multimillion dollar transformation, reopening it in 2023 as Maison Margaux restaurant and event center.
We have several more pages of neighborhood history in our Historic North Loop section.
By Mike Binkley, North Loop volunteer