In German, the name Schuler means “scholar” or “student.” It’s a common name, and, ironically, one that the first generation of Marshall Schulers chose, rather than inherited. Albert Schuler, Sr., or “Bert,” was seven years old when his mother died and his father left him with neighbors and moved on. An itinerant butcher named Schuler took in the boy, and, while not formally adopted, Albert later took the name as his own.
As a youth, Albert Schuler worked as a delivery boy in the local grocery store. Lacking a trade, he became a cigar maker—ironically the line of work his biological father was reported to have pursued. Cigar-making appears to have been a popular vocation in this small Michigan community. An early Marshall business Gazetteer lists over 50 types of cigars that were produced locally.
In 1909, Albert started a cigar store, and soon added billiard tables, a bakery, and a lunch counter. As an additional venture, he purchased the Garrick Café in 1917, which he operated with a partner. The specialty of Albert’s 30-seat eatery was a 25-cent blue-plate dinner.
In 1920, he purchased a hotel with a small dining room on Main Street, and named it The Albert. By 1924, with $5,000 in savings as a down payment, Albert was ready to expand his business, because “you can’t raise four kids on the salary of a deputy sheriff”—an office to which he had been appointed while operating the Garrick Café. He sold the hotel on Main Street, purchased the larger Royal Hotel and Restaurant, and immediately changed the name to Schuler’s.
In his capacity as deputy sheriff, it wasn’t unusual for Albert to be summoned to attend to matters of the law. In such cases, the restaurateur/hotelier-turned-peace officer would take off his apron and was out the door. Minutes (or hours) later, his apron was back on and it was business as usual.
Perhaps more than anything, Albert loved to cook. He noted later that he “always set a good table” for his family. That love of cooking carried over to the restaurant—and in many ways was passed along to his sons.