In another Dope thread, store lunch counters were mentioned. In the past, it seems most department stores and many other retail outlets would have a small restaurant on site for customers. (Outside restaurants onsite, like McDonald’s at Walmart or Little Caeser at KMart are not what I mean.) My hometown actually had a lunch counter in the local pharmacy well into the nineties;it got converted into a soda fountain and is still around. The food was about as good as you’d expect from a small town drugstore, but at least it carried a full menu. So have you ever eaten at a lunch counter, and where and when? What do you remember about the food?
Yes. Growing up in northern New Jersey in the 70s, we had a S. S. Kresge (5 and 10) that had a lunch counter. It was always a treat when my mom let us eat there for lunch. I remember grilled cheese sandwiches and ice cream sodas.
Not only did I eat at one, I worked at one also. A Woolworth’s in the King of Prussia mall in Pennsylvania. This was a large one with a number of tables, but basically the same food found at the smaller counters. It was mostly burgers, dogs, and club sandwiches along with soda fountain fare. When I was very young and lived outside of DC I loved to eat at the People’s Drugstore lunch counters. They had a chili dog meal I liked, though I had to pick the beans out of the chili. These counters were much like a small traditional diner.
Yes. It’s one of my favourite memories going that far back. I was treated to hot dog and coke at a Woolworth’s lunch counter by my aunt and uncle.
Yep. We had a Kresge with a lunch counter.
There was also, in a nearby city, a Lazarus (think Macy’s) department store with a full restaurant in it.
Yes - at the Walgreen’s in Gainesville, FL. I worked at Chestnut’s Office/Art Supply and would eat at the Walgreen’s lunch counter occasionally. Tuna melts and a Coke.
This would have been around 1979 - 1981.
Not since I was a kid in the early 70’s, but back then the Norman Rockwell dime store lunch counter was a real treat. Mom, a club sandwich with chips, an olive or pickle slice, and a chocolate malt. Great memories.
The closest thing to this that I’ve ever personally experienced “in the wild” is the deli counter at Cabela’s that serves sandwiches made from game meat - boar, venison, elk, and so on. I was cautiously intrigued by the idea the one time I found myself in the store, but I wasn’t very hungry.
In the '70s, what passed for a big city in our area had a Kresge, which later became K-Mart, and a Woolworth’s. They had lunch counters but I don’t recall actually eating there.
I do remember eating at the Automat-syle cafeteria in the basement of Chicago’s Museum of Science & Industry, though.
We used to eat at the Woolworth’s when we were with my grandmother shopping downtown. I love that. Such a fun treat! This would be in the 70’s.
Also as a kid in the '70s at Woolworth’s. And, come to think of it, as a high schooler in the early '80s at McCrory’s. I think it was called McCrory’s. In downtown Brooklyn.
These still effectively exist in some places. Ikea stores often (if not always) have a lunch area. Macy’s in downtown Chicago has multiple eating venues, which although they are branded (like Frontera Fresco, for example) are all apparently run under one big staffing arrangement. I eat there at least a few times a month. There’s also a more cafeteria style lunch set up in the basement at that location.
Growing up in Peoria, IL, in the very late '70s/early '80s, I remember eating at ones at K-Mart and at Venture (another discount department store). There was also a restaurant at Bergner’s (a department store more along the lines of JC Penney), but I think that was a sit-down restaurant rather than just a counter.
I have eaten at quite a few department store lunch counters but not recently. The last one I can recall eating at is Newberry’s which closed around 1997.
Yup…Woolworth’s, and several others whose names escape me at the moment…maybe Ward’s? Something like that. One of them had an open-face roast beef sandwich that was pretty good.
I remember being puzzled by the little half-cans of Campbell’s soup on display–thinking this would have been at Grant’s. Seemed so forlorn to me even as a kid.
Higbee’s, in Cleveland, used to have some sort of birthday special, and so Mom would take my sister and I on all of our birthdays. They gave out a toy stove made of folded cardboard.
I’ve eaten at a few. The Woolworths were the only place I ever knew to serve phosphate sodas.
The Rexall drug store used to have a counter too. The one in Plymouth, WI charcoal grilled their burgers and served them on a hard roll. Outstanding!
BLT sandwiches were just the best. Amazingly delicious! Yum! Yum! Yum!
Mmmmmmmmmm, hot dogs down by Prange’s lunch counter! Yum.