Stores or restaurants you used to go to in your youth

I think I’ve seen a sign for that on I-43, which is what I take when I drive up to see my parents in Green Bay. Once I’m able to start going back to Wisconsin again, I’ll have to stop there!

Do that. You can also see part of my farm from I-43, so wave as you go by. Or let me know when you plan to go through, maybe I’ll be able to meet you at Mary’s.

Now that would be cool!

I’m originally from northern NJ, and although someone upthread said Buxton’s were also in northern NJ, I’ve never seen one or heard heard of Buxton. Then again, I wouldn’t think of places like Morristown and Princeton as north Jersey.

I wanna come too!

I’m just a mile or two off I 80 in Nebraska. Surely that can be worked into the itinerary.

Not too far off the route, at all! :wink:

I live about 300 miles from where I spent my youth (Clifton, NJ) and I haven’t swung by that way in a few years. Some of the local stores and restaurants I went to are gone, and some are still there, but I haven’t been to them in ages.

Supermarkets: I worked a few of my teen summers at the Grand Union a few blocks from my house, but mom would never shop there or at the other supermarkets in town (A&P and Foodtown). Instead, she would go to the next to shop at Shop-Rite. Even after moving to upstate NY (no Shop-Rites), she would make sure to stop at a Shop-Rite on every trip she made back to NJ or PA.

Oddly enough, the other grocery store, she would stop at was a local place that grew out of a produce stand at the Paterson farmers’ market into a supermarket with an expansive produce section and groceries specializing in Italian, Hispanic, and Middle Eastern product. Corrado’s Market kept adding additional stuff to their Clifton location (Hardware/Garden Center, Wholesale Market, Pet Store, Gas Station, Beer & Winemaking Center), and have apparently done so well that they’ve expanded into a NJ chain.

Shop-Rites have great prices and are wonderful for pantry items and dairy. Problem is they’re notoriously poor for produce & meats. So I tend to use Shop-Rites for bulk items but do my weekly shopping in smaller, nicer stores. Acme was my mainstay and now it looks like Stop & Shop will be. (I recently moved.)

By the way, Shop-Rite is a little different from other supermarket chains, in that the stores aren’t corporate owned. Instead they’re franchised. In the New Haven area, for instance, the same guy owns five stores in different towns.

On that note:

ShopRite has grown into the largest retailer-owned cooperative in the United States and the largest employer in New Jersey.

Our local is Saker and they have 31 stores in Central Jersey.

Sounds about right. Mom would load up on canned and pantry goods and go to the above mentioned Corrado’s for produce. I don’t remember meat being an issue. Our neighbor was the head butcher at the Shop-Rite, but that was ages ago, when a supermarket butcher was a well-paying union job.

We shop the Pig around here. The tiny villages closest to me each had their sole mom & pop grocery stores affiliate with the Pig long ago.

But even longer ago (1960’s), we used to go to the big City of Sheboygan to shop the major grocery store, Krambo. It eventually changed into Food Queen.

I grew up in northern New Jersey, land of the shopping mall. I certainly spent enough time in them in my youth, but I didn’t go to all of them. The favored mall was Willowbrook Mall in Wayne, which was the biggest enclosed mall in the US when it was completed. Literally next door (you could walk across the parking lot) was the much smaller West Belt Mall. WB wasn’t much of a mall, but the anchor stores were JCPenney and Korvettes, which were two of my Mom’s favorite department stores. Fortunoff eventually replaced Korvettes. I had to go to JCPenney to buy all my Cub/Boy Scout equipment. The anchor stores at Willowbrook were Sears, Bambergers, Sterns, and Ohrbachs/Steinbachs.

Most of the actual shopping was at JCPenney or Sears. I remember Bambergers (I’m pretty sure it was Bambergers, thought it could have been Sterns) having a pretty good book department and toy/game department. That’s were I got my first copies of The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Chronicles of Narnia, as well as my first D&D books. Those departments eventually got downsized and then eliminated but by then I was old enough no wander the mall myself and go to Waldenbooks and Kay.Bee Toys & Hobby.

We’d usually stop at Friendly’s, but just for Ice cream. If we ate a meal at the mall, if was usually at a department store restaurant. Years later, Mom told me we did this because she could charge it on a store card. JCPenney had a basic diner/cafeteria type place. Bambergers had a fancier restaurant, with a salad bar and cold buffet where I could sample exotica like pickled herring. I was a member of the Bamberger’s Birthday club, so every July the waitstaff would bring out a piece of cake with a candle and serenade me and then let me choose a toy from the treasure chest.

In the other direction from Clifton were the malls of Paramus. We didn’t go that was as often, as my parents didn’t like driving on Route 4 with its stop-and-go streetlight traffic. Garden State Plaza was the main mall. It’s the biggest mall in the area now, but that’s because it’s expanded over the years. When I was a little, GSP was still an open-air mall. We rarely went there because it was a pain to get in an out of. I don’t think I’ve ever been to the Paramus Park Mall, the other big Paramus mall.

Though smaller, Bergen Mall was closer and was where we shopped when we went in that direction. Bergen Mall, one of the oldest malls in New Jersey, was rather atypical. The anchor stores were Sterns, Ohrbachs, and Newberry’s. There was a long pedestrian overpass over the parking lot and Route 4 to a shopping center across the highway. We would hike the overpass because my mom wanted to shop at the Korvettes (later Caldors) on the other side. When I was little, my parents would take to children’s matinee plays put on by the community playhouse (How many malls have one of them?) and then Wolfie’s Deli-Restaurant, which put out a container of homemade kosher dills gratis.

However, what made the Bergen Mall distinct was the basement. No, not a lower shopping level with more retail stores but an actual basement level (OK, it was ground level if you parked behind the mall.) built alng a long corridor. There was a large open space used for exhibitions (My dad would drag me along to fishing/outdoors exhibitor shows there), and several non-mall type businesses, such as a bowling ally, a barbershop, doctor’s offices, a post office branch, and a chapel. The stair case to thus basement level was kind of tucked away, and you could walk around the mall and miss it.

However, the main basement attraction for me was the Village Mall, a mini-mall of about 30-40 tiny stores tucked away down there. The stores were about 500 square feet each, and were really more like flea market booths with their own walls and doors. The decor was kind of a Victorian/Gay 90s, with faux gasps and wrought iron fixtures. There was tiny restaurant/cafe with a small seating area fence off with wrought iron railings.

Bergen Mall was not my Mom’s favorite mall, but from sixth grade until my friends and I were old enough to drive, I used to beg her to take me (and sometimes my friends) to the Village mall at least once a month. That was because in the early-mid 80s, The Village Mall was nerd collector heaven.

You see, in 6th grade I rediscovered comics and then discovered that comic book stores existed and there were comics you could only buy in comic book stores and not from the spinner racks at the newsstand or the drugstore. And The Village Mall had the first comic shop I knew of(and the only one I knew of for several years). The Village Mall also had the first/only specialty RPG games store I knew of. There was also a small bookstore that only sold paperback fiction, and had a decent SF/fantasy selection despite the small size. There was also a baseball card shop, a coin/stamp store, a dollhouse furnishings store my kid sister liked, and several small artsy-crafty shops.

As for restaurants, we ate at a lot of local restaurants that no one who didn’t live in the Clifton area would no or care about, so I won’t bring them up for the most part. The main things of note were really good diners and hot dog places with distinctive styles. Although Clifton has practically every major NJ highway running through it, there were only two chain restaurants in town proper: a Dairy Queen that we never went to and White Castle that we did. White Castles are obviously still around, but not where I live now. However, New Jersey is the place that loved White Castle so much that it inspired knockoffs that were around for decades and were better than White Castles, so I was happier when my Dad came home with a sack of burgers from Blue Castle in Passaic (gone) or White Manna in Hackensack (still there and still amazing).

I found out years after the fact that our local Chinese place: Lee’s Hawaiian Islander was actually one of several locations, and although the one in Clifton closed years ago after a fire, the original is still in Lyndhurst. Lee’s was a type of fancy-decor Chinese restaurant you don’t see anymore: a holdover from the Hawaiian/Polynesian boom of the 60s. It had tiki totems and a waterfall outside and Hawaiian decor and a tiki bar inside (We usually did takeout, though). The speciality was the Pu-Pu Platter, with aa sterns can and everything.

I liked Mexican food in my youth (still do), but options were somewhat limited in NJ in the 80s. Also, my family didn’t really care for Mexican, so we didn’t go for Mexican unless I got to pick the restaurant (basically on my birthday). My place choice was El Torito, which was much better than Chichi’s. I later found out it was chain when I drove by a second location past the Willowbrook Mall, but the NJ locations I knew closed down and I thought the chain was gone until I went to live in Japan and a friend in Tokyo took me to a Mexican place he found called…El Torito. The chain still exists, but only on the West Coast.

Shakey’s Pizza and Mister Donut are two US chains that I went to when living in Japan, but have never seen in the US. I also ate at a Quizno’s in Japan years before I saw one stateside.


Shakey’s was pretty widespread in the U.S. in the 1960s and 1970s (I went to the one in my home town of Green Bay regularly in the late '70s), but they’re now down to a few dozen U.S. locations, mostly in southern California.

Mister Donut was also fairly widespread in the U.S., but in 1990, they were bought by the same company which owned Dunkin’ Donuts, and most of their U.S. locations changed over to the Dunkin’ name in 1990 or soon after. The Wikipedia article on Mister Donut says that, as of 2017, there was still one Mister Donut store in the U.S., in southern Illinois.

Shakey’s was actually pretty big in Japan when I was there. They got into the Japan market early in their heyday and beat their competition. Shakey’s was best remembered in Japan for its pizza buffet, which I don’t think was their thing in the States.

Lots of expats and exchange students short of cash went to Shakey’s to get their fill of pizza only to find it garnished with topping such as tuna, corn, mayonnaise, squid, squid ink, potato, and so on.

Mister Donut is HUGE in Japan, with hundreds of locations. There was one next to the subway station near my apartment. It had donuts , but also a lot of savory pastries such as fried roast pork buns and curry bread. They also had hand pies in the McDs apple pie style, but they also offered savory fillings like chili shrimp or bulgogi. Looking at their menu now, they also have spaghetti, fried rice and some Chinese dishes, which I guess helps them with their evening business.

I love that there’s a used bookstore in an airport (brilliant bit of retail placement there), but I do miss the old bookstore.

Imagine the most crowded book shop, where you have to sidestep between four-foot high stacks of books in all the aisles, none of which were straight… (nor were the shelves under the weight of thousands of ancient, smelly hardcovers). As a teenager, I got lost in there once.