We made a trip up to watch my daughter play at Purdue this weekend and had to take a detour due to a bridge closure. Ended up we took the way we used to go from my childhood home. What I remembered the most is we used to take this route to go to a “fancy” restaurant called Morris Bryant. It was a buffet. It was in West Lafayette. In Indiana. Something tells me it wasn’t as fancy as I remember it, but we used to have to get dressed up before piling into Dad’s Old’s 98 and driving an hour to get there. Turns out it burned down and was rebuilt back in the 90’s… only to be leveled by a tornado and never came back.
We also went past a building right at the exit with a big clock on top which I commented to my wife is where I ate before my prom. I was called Mountain Jack’s. A few blocks later my wife pointed out a building with a Mountain Jack’s sign. So either they moved or my memory isn’t so good after all these years (I was on my prom date so my mind probably wasn’t focused on the architecture if you know what I mean).
We also used to have a local small burger chain in my home town called Scottie’s which had a Big Scott way before the Big Mac ever hit the market. It unfortunately is also long gone.
Anyone else have fond memories of eateries gone by?
The Ground Round, a local chain, was the place to go when I was a kid. Baskets of peanuts on the tables and shells all over the floor, a movie screen showing Our Gang shorts on the wall, and video games in the dining room were the features I remember.
I spent the late 70’s as a young kid in Madison, Wisconsin. I remember two Mexican restaurants on/near State Street from that time: Dos Banditos, and Taco Grande. My parents and us kids all liked them, so we went there on a fairly regular basis. I go back to Madison on a fairly regular basis these days, but of course those restaurants aren’t there anymore.
I grew up in northern Virginia. We had Ground Round, I didn’t realize it wasn’t a national chain. I thought the 1/4 chili cheese dog was the height of sophistication when I was a kid. They also had a great game room with really good pinball machines.
Zaberer’s was a seafood restaurant not far from Atlantic City. They had an enormous billboard (with a steamed lobster on it) atop the legendary Steel Pier, where you couldn’t miss it. I saw that billboard often, in the pre-gambling days at Atlantic City.
we went there once. The place was huge, and displayed plans of it getting bigger. All men had to wear jackets and ties in the dining room. Of course, most people going to the beach, or coming back from a day there, aren’t going to have fancy dress with them. So the coat room was prepared to rent or loan you a jacket and tie (these days, with T-shirts the norm, they’d have to rent you a shirt, too. But back then most guys still wore button-down shirts.)
For the life of me, I can’t recall the meal, except that it was pretty fancy.
It wasn’t a chain but when I was a kid, Chinese food meant we would go to certain restaurant near by. It wasn’t fancy or expensive but it was huge inside with dark lighting and Asian artwork on the walls. The china was all Asian themed. It was always a treat.
The restaurant took up an entire wing of a strip mall when I was kid. As the years went on, the restaurant got smaller as they remodeled to make room for more stores. Little by little the place changed and shrunk until finally it was just name on a greasy take out place that had a few small chairs. I miss that old place sometimes.
There used to be a chain of pancake restaurants in the Chicago area known as Golden Bear. I actually didn’t know it was a chain since, as a kid, we only went to one of them (in Downers Grove) but when trying to find any information on them I came across this trivia:
Another one was Mama Leone’s in New York City, at 261 West 44th Street. It was a cavernous place, the walls covered with wine racks, and the place filled with marble statues. You got the full Italian dinner there – Antipasta, Pasta or soup, main course, and dessert
Not so local… they were part of Howard Johnson’s. According to Wiki there are still 30 locations in 13 states. None by me though as far as I know. I remember them also giving you popcorn along with the peanuts. I did really like them at the time.
The old movies reminds me of the early Noble Roman’s. They had great deep dish Sicilian pizza. We used to go there all the time in high school in the 70’s. They had a brief comeback locally, but now only seem to be “take and bake” places.
Another good but extinct (as far as I know) place was Victoria Station. They had old train cars as part of their exterior. I may be confusing things but I think they also had peanuts in the shell.
I’m actually very lucky that one of my early memories is of travelling down to Indianapolis and stopping at one of the first Steak-N-Shakes on the way. That same restaurant is now in walking distance of my house. I’m sure it has gone through tons of changes over the years, but I still feel like the I’m 5 when spinning on one of the red stools at the counter.
We had a Ground Round in my town but not until the mid-90s. And it wasn’t as people always fondly describe it - it was more like Applebees except their bar was a distinct other room. No video games or peanuts on the floor, and they didn’t seem to really specialize in steak.
HOWEVER, my friends and I went here all the dang time and they had a club sandwich on marble rye that knocked my socks off. And their peanut butter pie was magnificent!
So I miss Ground Round, too. But a different one than everyone else misses
There was one as far south as Kokomo Indiana… it took over the Sambo’s pancake house. At least it didn’t have the “little black” before the Sambo, but there were murals of the black kid being chased around the tree by the tiger.
Younger Dopers are probably scratching their heads right now.
I was in Vegas recently and it seemed like all of the B-grade casinos on the Strip and Fremont had a Noble Roman’s in their food court. I didn’t eat at any of them (since I’d already gotten my fill from Secret Pizza), but they were definitely serving hot slices and pies to go.
I think we also had The Ground Round in the St. Louis area. And there was a local (I think) chain that was similar, called Jacks or Better. I think they also had the peanut-shells-on-the-floor shtick.
When I was a kid, I remember thinking Noah’s Ark in St. Charles, MO was the fancy restaurant closest to our house. (see here and here and here). I think I only went there once. Would have been about 1980; I guess I was 7 or so. My dad and some of his coworkers got together with their families there. I don’t remember why now. I think they had come into some extra cash somehow. Anyway, it was a place we would not have gone to otherwise. My memories of it are very vague. It started to fall into disrepair in the 90s and was demolished in 2007. They were famous for their clam chowder.
Jahn’s Ice Cream Parlor was always our go-to place when I was in high school in the Bronx. The big attraction was the infamous Kitchen Sink Sunday, which could be a challenge even for a table of teenage boys. Most locations have closed, the only one left being in Queens.
Just thought of another one, the ill-fated* Brookdale Lodge in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The restaurant had a brook running through it and the bar (which had some great rock/blues/bluegrass acts) had a “Mermaid Room” with windows into the Lodge’s swimming pool.
*there was a bad fire and the place was sold to an unscrupulous new owner who didn’t bother following health and safety codes and got busted for insurance fraud.
Sounds like Farrell’s, and I think there was another but I can’t remember the name. It looks like Farrell’s is trying to make a come back and has a few locations out west…
One of my favorite High School stories involved one of these places. When they served the Kitchen Sink or the Whole Hog or whatever it was called, they had flashing lights, sirens, horns honking… you name it. It was a big ceremony when they brought one out.
I wasn’t there, but a guy I knew went there with a bunch of high school friends after a night of over indulging in a bit of spirits and maybe a little bit of illegal smoking substances. Somebody ordered one of these things. To make a long story short… someone went home with a very wet pair of pants and a bunch of buddies who couldn’t stop laughing.