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Chain Restaurants of Yore

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Sambo's! I remember them. And, Ranch House. We ate Sunday lunch there once when I was about 7, and my mother was NOT happy about it, but I liked the chandeliers AND my spinach salad, no dressing. Those chandeliers were made from wagon wheels!

I had my first real date (a strawberry ice cream soda with a walk-on-the-beach chaser, and he had 2 hours to get me home) at Howard Johnson's on A1A in Fort Lauderdale. That same young man worked at The Magic Pan in NYC at some point.

I also remember Valle's. I clipped their ad out of the paper one year (OK, I was 12, and I paid out of my own money!) and took my father there for Father's Day. He was such a good sport, I think mainly because they served him a couple of very strong whiskey sours.

What a fun thread!


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And here's a scary one. Tad's Steaks. Gluggg. The one on 14th Street was really dreadfully strange.  :biggrin: You could imagine that Mickey Rourke in one of his more frightening roles *lived* there.

I think there are still a few Tad's around!


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I read a review of Tad's once with the following:

"...you don't need to salt your steak, the chef sweats on it!"

Childs Pancake House.

(proving a house is not a home)

Ditto another poster on the Orange Julius outfit.

how about Schrafts?

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I've seen Orange Juliuses (Juliusi?) in some malls. They don't taste the same though.

I seem to have a vague recollection of a burger chain that delivered your meals on a little choo-choo train. Mom would so rarely take us to those places, so I can't even venture a guess at the name.


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And here's a scary one. Tad's Steaks. Gluggg. The one on 14th Street was really dreadfully strange.  :biggrin: You could imagine that Mickey Rourke in one of his more frightening roles *lived* there.

I think there are still a few Tad's around!

It always seemed to me as if Tad's was not really "real" in some way. Sort of like an alien spaceship had landed during the wee hours of the morning (probably in the only hour that New Yorkers are not out on the streets, between 4:30 after the after-hours close and before 5:30 when people who open coffee shops have to go to work) and little green men with pulsing fragile antennaes on their heads quickly hopped out of the spaceship and built these strange places that served something they knew was called "steak", that Earthlings liked.

Since they were aliens, they never really understood what steak was. As should be obvious to anyone that has ever entered a Tad's "Steaks". It's the trickery of thinking that they actually can get a decent steak for like. . 99 cents or the moral equivalent that makes people *want* to believe that Tad's is indeed a steakhouse and not an alien outpost.

I'm still fairly certain that somewhere in each Tads's there is a spot, a black hole, that if it could be found (maybe it's in the men's room - who would want to go there, anyway) and some mystic rite held (maybe waving a bunch of arugula and citing Michael Pollan at great length) the restaurant would dissolve into a huge ugly puff of greasy, potato-flaked smoke, leaving some valuable Manhattan real estate available.

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And here's a scary one. Tad's Steaks. Gluggg. The one on 14th Street was really dreadfully strange.  :biggrin: You could imagine that Mickey Rourke in one of his more frightening roles *lived* there.

I think there are still a few Tad's around!

We still have one here in San Francisco.

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And here's a scary one. Tad's Steaks. Gluggg. The one on 14th Street was really dreadfully strange.  :biggrin: You could imagine that Mickey Rourke in one of his more frightening roles *lived* there.

I think there are still a few Tad's around!

We still have one here in San Francisco.

Sad. :sad: Worldwide domination may be next.

Someone really should find that black hole and *make* Tad's "of yore". And for goodness sake, do hurry so I can actually be "on topic".

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Gino,s


"Food is our common ground,a universal experience"

James Beard

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Tad's reminds me of Sizzler. There was a boy in our high school whose dad was in the Sizzler business. In the late 70's. Back then there were a slew of chains that hawked what some people called 'fake steak'. But, I only remember visiting Sizzler, they had a salad bar. Some of us used to go with Son of Sizzler to the restaurant for lunch off campus, and we would get comped our meals. The waitresses loved us, because we tipped BIG(easy to do when your meal is free, huh?). I ate a lot of spinach salads, with the ubiquitous 'French' dressing, cherry tomatoes and sunflower seeds! Plus, big servings of fat cut French fries. The guys in back would make you a grilled cheese sandwich if you asked, too, on these really big 'ole hunky slices of bread, all greasy and garlicked. Gee, that was good junk food. What a nice father, to feed all of us kids like that. I don't remember ever ordering the steak.


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Oh my, I remember going to both Mr. Steak and Ponderosa. Both had steak that now I

probably would never consider eating, both had a wonderful soft "texas toast" that I ate

tons of and mediocre baked potato. Mr. Steak had a good cheeseburger too.

In Illinois there were Fred Harvey's in the oasis' above the tollway that we stopped at

enroute to and from Milwaukee. They had these neat vending machines with all kinds

of fun little trinkets and toys that I always had to have one of. Funny, I can't recall

what I ate there though. Probably orange soda with whatever it was. :smile:

I too liked Big Boy, we'd drive to Downer's Grove and sit in the car and eat on Ogden

Avenue, the paper around the namesake sandwich getting all mushy from the famous

sauce. Now that I would eat again! I liked the Big Boy hairdo on the statue! :biggrin:


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In PA and elsewhere in the Mid Atlantic area - Gino's Hamburgers home of the Gino's Giant. And their sister restuarant Rustler's Steakhouse.

There was a time when Gino's restaurants had higher per store sales than McD's and McD's kept out of Philadelphia because they didn't want to get beat up by Gino's.

Edited to note that I just saw that Phifly04 mentioned Gino's first.


Edited by Holly Moore (log)

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Burger Chef with the Burger Chef and Jeff!

Rax (although there are still a few scattered around)

Magic Pan for crepes - great for lunch especially

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Steak & Shake, regional midwest burger chain, of both yore & the present day.

When I returned to my hometown of St. Louis in the 1990s after an absence of c. 20 years, I was astounded to find them still going strong. I figured that they had to have vanished along with the rest of my youth.


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If you're talking about chains that are still around but have grown legendary, White Castle has to be near the top.

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I'm told my first ambition in life, at around the age of 3, was to be a Chock full o'nuts waitress. What I miss is their whole wheat donuts.

Anyway, I just returned from a road trip from Connecticut to Florida, straight down I-95. Every d*** intersection had the same complement of plastic chain restaurants. Very disheartening. The only Road Food place along the way was a barbecue at, I think, Exit 29 in Georgia, but we went by there at 9:30 in the morning. The most exciting find was a very small Florida chain called La Ranja, which serves Peruvian food. At least it isn't Applebees!

I do have a question, though. We saw "Texas toast" on the menu at a couple of places. Someone mentioned it above. What is it?

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I remember La Crepe too, there was one in Manhasset, in what we then called the Miracle Mile. a long line of stores. Can't remember now what the anchor dept. store was, although I remember that Bonwit Teller's was on the other side of 25A/Northern Blvd in that general area. I think I the first time I had "French" onion soup was at La Crepe.

Bagel Nosh. Not bad, not great. Don't know if they made it off the Island (Long Island/NY).

Arthur Treacher's Fish & Chips. Never ate there but he, his wife, and dog lived in the same apt. building as my family in the mid 1960's (some years before the fast food place appeared) so I noticed the place when it opened up.

Was Bill Knapp's in Michigan a chain? I remember eating there as a small child, my mother said it was one of the few restaurants in the area you could take kids to in those days.

azurite

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I'm told my first ambition in life, at around the age of 3, was to be a Chock full o'nuts waitress. What I miss is their whole wheat donuts.

Anyway, I just returned from a road trip from Connecticut to Florida, straight down I-95. Every d*** intersection had the same complement of plastic chain restaurants. Very disheartening. The only Road Food place along the way was a barbecue at, I think, Exit 29 in Georgia, but we went by there at 9:30 in the morning. The most exciting find was a very small Florida chain called La Ranja, which serves Peruvian food. At least it isn't Applebees!

I do have a question, though. We saw "Texas toast" on the menu at a couple of places. Someone mentioned it above. What is it?

[/quote

"Texas Toast" is thick sliced white bread- about tike two slices of wonder sandwich as one. It is often brushed with melted butter and then grilled. "Sonic" uses this bread in their toaster sandwiches, and it generally comes with BBQ around here.

I remember eating at Tads, also ate at some of the others mentioned, but Tads had a mood that was different than the others- almost makes me think of film noir as opposed to father knows best.

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There seem to be a few categories being discussed here: chains that no longer exist, chains that used to be different, and chains that some people think are gone but are actually still around.

One thing I noted, upon reading some of the names being bandied about, is that I can't think of a single chain that has improved over time. Can you? You take any of the old-time places from Orange Julius to Arthur Treacher's . . . even McDonald's and Arby's, and they all used to be pretty good in the 1970s (that's as far back as my memory goes). And now it seems that with each passing year they get worse.


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I just now learned that a restaurant I remember fondly from the 1950's on Long Island, Patricia Murphy's Candlelight Restaurant (waitresses roamed the many dining rooms with warm popovers), was part of a chain! They had branches in Yonkers, Brooklyn, Ft. Lauderdale, and Manhattan. I had absolutely no idea!


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And here's a scary one. Tad's Steaks. Gluggg. The one on 14th Street was really dreadfully strange.  :biggrin: You could imagine that Mickey Rourke in one of his more frightening roles *lived* there.

I think there are still a few Tad's around!

Including several (I believe) in Manhattan. I know there's one on E. 23rd St., between Madison and Park, I believe.

I haven't seen Pizza 'n Brew or Brew Burger (?) mentioned. There was a Pizza 'n Brew on 45th or 46th St. and Broadway when I was in high school (1979-83). I think there was a Brew Burger in White Plains or thereabouts when I was in college, and I think it was a chain and had other branches in other parts of Westchester County.


Michael aka "Pan

 

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In PA and elsewhere in the Mid Atlantic area - Gino's Hamburgers home of the Gino's Giant.  And their sister restaurant Rustler's Steakhouse. 

I was just thinking of The Rustler! I ate there more times than I can remember growing up in North Jersey. Even as a kid I thought their steaks were awful but I loved the chocolate pudding for dessert! Gotta love cafeteria style dining at it's best!

Also, how about Roy Rogers for fast food? I remember loving the horse highchairs! Also, the roast beef sandwiches. :wub:

Here is the story:

http://members.aol.com/jsf0864/page14.htmltory:

Gino's > Roy Roger's > KFC

Rustler > Sizzler


Edited by CherieV (log)

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Oh, I'm loving this topic!

Okay, the following three observations are all on various tangents related to "chain restaurants of yore", but hey, it's the best I could come up with that hasn't been mentioned already. :raz:

Here's a real obscure one: when I was growing up in the suburbs of New York in the 1960s, there was a local fried chicken delivery chain called Chicken Delight. I have fond memories of their jaunty little jingle: "Don't cook tonight, call Chicken Delight!" Pretty decent chicken, too, as best as I can recall.

Oh, and who in the New York metro area can forget Tom Carvel on the airwaves hawking his own ice cream cakes. Oy. he sounded just like my father. :rolleyes::laugh: Yeah, I know Carvel the business is still around, but this would fall into the category of "chains that just ain't the same no more." :smile:

Off in another direction: there's a handful of former A & W Root Beer stands in the suburbs of Seattle that have become Asian-run eateries, most often hamburger/teriaki joints. It always tickled me to see what color the new owners had painted the place, rooftop barrel cutout and all. My favorite Thai restaurant in the Seattle area, Bai Tong, just outside SeaTac Airport, is housed in one such former A $ W. I recall it being painted a tropical green, at least at some point--it's been awhile.

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One thing I noted, upon reading some of the names being bandied about, is that I can't think of a single chain that has improved over time. Can you?

Steak and Shake isn't notably worse, if no better. It's hard to tell through the prism of memory and the acquisition of taste. It' still my first choice for roadfood.

Madison, WI, has a local chain known as Pizza Pit. They are WAY, WAY better than they were when I was in school here in the mid-to-late '80s. Much better crust, much better everything. I credit this to the overall quality of bagged/boxed ingredients coming up over the past 10-15 years.


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Here's a real obscure one: when I was growing up in the suburbs of New York in the 1960s, there was a local fried chicken delivery chain called Chicken Delight. I have fond memories of their jaunty little jingle: "Don't cook tonight, call Chicken Delight!" Pretty decent chicken, too, as best as I can recall.

Oh, my God, Chicken Delight. We had 'em too on the West Coast. Same jingle, I can even remember the tune...................which will now probably be stuck in my head for the rest of the day :wacko:

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Aunt Jemima's Pancake House. I remember thinking that the little silver dollar pancakes were the best thing on the planet when I was five. And the big heavy set lady dressed like Aunt Jemima scared the bejezzus out of me.

Cindy

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