Art Cunningham, pictured above behind the counter at the Hurry Back, a pool hall and lunch counter at 105 West Third Street in downtown Winona, died this past week at the age of 93.
Art and his brother Frank came to Winona to go to State Teachers College, but soon found that their entrepreneurial spirits were leading them in a different direction. They were responsible for not only the Hurry Back, which Art bought in 1964, but another downtown restaurant, the Steak Shop, which Frank started in 1931, and the Royal Cab Company which Art and Frank started December 2, 1931.
The Hurry Back and Steak Shop are legendary. Ask any oldtime Winonan. The Hurry Back was sold and the new owners closed it a few years later. The Steak Shop and cab company building on the block now occupied by the Wells Fargo bank downtown, were the victims of urban renewal in 1976. The Steak Shop is now a catering business. The cab company has evolved into Yellow Cab.
The Cunninghams built their cab company up to a fleet of twelve, which were housed in the Park Hotel Garage on the corner of Second and Johnson streets. In an interview with the Post in 1981, Art Cunningham recalled his very first fare driving cab "” Florence Preston, whom he picked up at the East End Beauty Shop at 577 E. Fourth and brought to the Congress Cafe downtown.
They also owned and operated the town ambulance. In a 1985 interview, Frank Cunningham said that most of what should have been ambulance business was done by cab, because it cost $5.00 to ride in the ambulance but only 25 cents to take the cab. Drivers carried many a fare down to their cabs from their second story lodging on chairs, because they couldn't walk on their own.
Art Cunningham and his brother Frank will long be remembered for their impact on life in Winona and the institutions they began that have become part of Winona's history.