Olle and Lillian Olsson’s Bad day

Olle Olsson giving Calais Lion Frank Frost an Award. Calais Advertiser editor Jay Hinson can be seen over Olle’s right shoulder.

Olle Olsson, who after 18 years in the Swedish Merchant Marine, settled  in Calais in 1948 and not only became a successful restaurateur, but one of the most popular people in Calais. He’s shown above giving a Lion’s Club award to Frank Frost. Cheerful and always a genial host, Olle rarely had a bad day – notice we didn’t say never.

St Croix Hotel Restaurant and Interior

Olle leased and, with the able assistance of his wife Lillian, ran the St Croix Hotel Restaurant from 1948-64. In the early days, coffee was a nickel and a slice of homemade pie was a dime.

Restaurant Angelholm

In 1961, the Olssons bought the Williamson fish market next to the A and P and renovated the building to open the restaurant Angelholm (being the name of Olle’s hometown in Sweden). They operated both the St. Croix and the Angelholm for three years before concentrating on the Angelholm, which became the most popular eatery in town. 

The Tee Hee Restaurant, directly across the street from the St. Croix Hotel

Still, Olle knew there was a lot of business at the other end of town – the Greyhound buses continued to stop at the St. Croix Hotel – so in 1967 Ollie opened the Tee Hee Restaurant across the street from the hotel. 

The Wickachee in the early days and after the Olssons rebuilt

Their final venture was the Wickachee, which is shown above: an old, established and venerable Calais institution which had fallen on hard times, but which Olle and Lillian completely rebuilt and reopened in 1974.

The new Wichachee was considered by both Olle and Lillian as the “high point” of their careers. A state of the art kitchen could serve 160 people.

The windows in back looked over the river and it was from one of these windows that some customers in 1977 noticed a couple of suspicious characters leaving the back parking area in Ollie and Lillian’s brand new car. The police were alerted and the chase was on.

Bangor Daily News article about theft of the Olssons’ new car

We’ll let the Bangor Daily tell you the rest of the story:

Stolen automobile slams into Calais restaurant

By Herb Cleaves NEWS Machias Bureau CALAIS

A high speed getaway attempt by two Saint John NB men ended abruptly when the stolen automobile they were operating rammed a Main Street restaurant here Sunday afternoon. Calais Police Chief Clinton Hayward said the automobile was being operated in reverse and at a high rate of speed prior to the collision with the business establishment.

The stolen car struck one other vehicle before careening over the Main Street sidewalk and striking the front of the Angelholm Restaurant.

Calais businessman Bror Olsson and his wife Lillian were double losers as a result of the incident. The Olssons own both the restaurant and the 1977 automobile which received an estimated $1500 in damages. The vehicle struck by the stolen car also sustained about $1500 in damages.

Chief Hayward said Brothers Wayne D Carr 18 and Melvin P Carr 20 will appear in Washington County District Court at Calais Wednesday April 27. Both were charged with theft (Class B) of the automobile valued at about $10000. Both were released from Calais jail Monday after posting $1000 bail. Chief Hayward said the bizarre incident began about 2:15 pm Sunday when patrons at the Wickachee Restaurant noticed the Olssons’ vehicle being driven from a rear parking lot.

The Wickachee also owned by the Olssons is located on River Road south of the Calais business district. An all points bulletin was issued for the Olsson car in the greater Calais area and several off  duty Calais police officers were called in Hayward said. After several reported sightings Patrolman Grady Dwelley who was driving his own vehicle at the time sighted the stolen car on North Street.

 Dwelley followed the vehicle onto Main Street where the operators of the car became trapped by heavy traffic. With the officer closing in the Carr brothers attempted to make a getaway by backing the automobile at a high rate of speed west on Main Street.The reverse direction chase ended about one block later Hayward said when the vehicle hit the Angelholm Restaurant.

Although the two Canadians fled from the wrecked car they were apprehended a short time later near Main Street. Participating in the chase and eventual arrest were several patrolmen including Dwelley, Richard Mayo, Kevin Stevens and Lt Gregory Burcham who is now heading the investigation. Chief Hayward said the Olssons have been the victims of several criminal incidents recently including a March 31 looting and near burning of the Wickachee Restaurant   

Some may recall the incident but we didn’t until we came across an article from April 1977 in the Indiana Gazette headed “Victims Twice Hit By Thieves”.

One of the abbreviated versions of the story published nationally

The remarkable coincidence and very bad luck of Lillian and Olle were national news and reported in many newspapers. Of all the restaurants owned, operated or built by the Olssons, only the Wickachee continues to operate under its original name. The Angelholm is now Jo’s Diner, while the St. Croix Hotel Restaurant…

…was demolished in 1983. The Tee Hee lasted only a short time but the building is located in what seems to be constituting itself as “restaurant row” across from Triangle Park. The Historical Society is pleased to see these brick blocks being renovated and becoming homes to local businesses.

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