ANAHEIM’S
OLD SALOONS
From the October 3, 1996 Anaheim Bulletin

Anaheim was home to a half dozen saloons in the late 1880’s – but Roman Wisser’s bar was everybody’s favorite.

Marion Wisser Harvey knows about her grandfather’s bar, The Favorite Saloon, through old photographs, bits of city history
and lots of family stories.
“This was a saloon town,” said Harvey, holding a faded photo of her father and grandfather standing stoically behind the
brass-railed bar.  “The people were German and they drank beer. A lot of beer.”NapoleonHartsSaloonc1900-429x297
Her grandmother operated a restaurant and bar in rented
spots in downtown Anaheim for 20 years before building
The Favorite Saloon in 1906 at 169 W. Center Street.
Wisser and his future wife, Emelie, both emigrated to the
United States in the mid 1880s.  They lived in two small
French farming villages, a few miles apart, but never knew
each other.
Initially, Wisser wanted his new family to live above the
saloon, but Harvey’s grandmother said, “No way.”
Eventually, they built a family home a block from the
saloon on Lemon Street.
The Favorite Saloon had two entrances – one for men and
another for woman.
“The men would smoke their cigars and talk men talk and get all
rowdy,” said Harvey, 75, who lives in Downtown Anaheim.
“A lady didn’t go into the saloon.  They’d come in their bonnets and get a glass of wine.”
Children were also regulars at the bar. Parents sent their children to the saloon with a greased lard pail and some money for
draft beer. The lard kept the beer from getting frothy during the shaky walk home.
“Their fathers wanted a full bucket of beer instead of a half bucket of foam,” Harvey said.
The bar’s facade changed several times through the years – each time Center Street was widened, a piece of the Favorite’s
front was chopped off.
Pete Wisser, Harvey’s father, returned to Anaheim after serving in the army during World War I. Soon after, he married Edna
Nichols, Harvey’s mother.ExchangeSaloonCirca1908-429x296
The younger Wisser took over the family business after his
father died.  Prohibition forced the saloon to close in 1919.
A year later, the Wissers opened a sporting goods store in the
old bar.  The switch was a natural for her father, who was a
hunting and fishing enthusiast.
One thing remained constant during the transition from shot
glasses and draft beer to sleeping bags and shotguns.  Antlers
lined the walls of both establishments.
Harvey and her two brothers, Edwin and Allan, worked in the
store after school and on weekends.  In his spare time, her
father ran for and served on the City Council from 1950 to
1958.
The three children took over ownership of the sporting goods store in 1958 when their father retired because of failing vision.
In 1978, redevelopment forced Wisser Sporting Goods out of downtown.  The store was moved to a temporary location near the
present day police station.  Within a few years, the store closed for good.
“We decided to go fishing instead of outfitting fishermen,” Harvey said.