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Forgotten regional chains

Dan

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I was reading a thread on roadfood.com about long-gone regional restaurant chains, and thought it might make for some interesting discussion over the weekend.

When I was a kid growing up, there were several local restaurant chains that are now no longer. The one old coots seem to look back on in fond reverence was Deco, which had about 50 locations in the City of Buffalo itself; they were mostly an eat-in short-order place. The chain's heydays were during the 1940s and 1950s; the last one closed in 1979. A disproportionately large number of the chain's locations were in neighborhoods that later evolved into Buffalo's ghetto.

There was also Your Host, which slowly faded into oblivion through the 1980s. Most Your Host customers were bluehairs, most employees were bluehairs, the interiors were relics of the 1950s and 1960s, and the food was passable. Still, they were open 24 hours. Your Host gave way to the bevy of independently owned greek diners that flooded Buffalo in the 1990s.

The Maryland Fried Chicken outlets in Orlando looked like remnants of what might have been a larger national chain. The outlets all have a "no capital improvements since 1962" look about them; even the logo is an intact 1950s style design.

What else was around when I was a kid ... Henry's Hamburgers, Lums, Sambos, Carrol's, and Red Barn.
 

nerudite

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I'll probably have to think about this for awhile... an obvious one for me to remember though is Sambos...



I think the Kenny Roger's Roasters that my mom raved about all the time went bankrupt in the US. I think there are still some in Canada that are operating though.

Otherwise... I can't really think of any off the top of my head.
 

boiker

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hmm

reastaurants....

lums just closed its last two places in Peoria, IL..

anyone from Rockford Illinois will know....Beef-a-roo!
 

Cardinal

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Did Sambo's really go away, or did they just become Denny's?

What about Brown's Chicken and Hardees (both almost gone)?
 

nerudite

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Michael Stumpf said:
Did Sambo's really go away, or did they just become Denny's?
I think they went away, although some of the restaurants were probably purchased by Denny's.... but I don't know for sure. The original Sambos in Santa Barbara is still there and operating.
 

Dan

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Michael Stumpf said:
What about Brown's Chicken and Hardees (both almost gone)?
Hardees outlets are relatively common around here (Kansas City), and there were quite a few in Florida. Now, though, they're Carls Jr. clones.

Beef-a-Roo?

There's a Deco restaurant tribute on the Buffalo History Works Web site.
 

nerudite

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I remember a great chicken chain... it was put out of business by KFC, but it was so much yummier. It was called Pioneer Chicken and there were tons of them in So. Cal.
 

Chet

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Burger Chef - the long lost bastard step cousin of Burger King

Arthur Treachers Fish & Chips (although I hear they are still in somer parts oif the US)

Montgomery Ward
 

nerudite

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The Irish one said:
I remember their chicken skin being orange -good stuff

Yeah it was orangish (kind of like how buffalo wings are reddish/orangish)... it was really yummy cold the next day. I would usually get it the day before I wanted to eat it and put it right into the fridge. They also had really yummy biscuits. Mmmm mmmm.
 

Jen

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Mmmm foood

There was a Lum's in Hollywood Fla! at SR 7 and Hollywood Blvd. Red and white western style logo, red dining booths?

I also remember Zayre's Dept stores the Treasury and Luria's showcase. We alsways used to get chocomilk eggs and icecream from the drive up FarmStores, still one of those in South Miami by airport. Loved Sonny's Barbecue and Char Huts.
And what 's with the cult status of Krispy Kreme anyway?
 

nerudite

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Jen's mention of barbeque reminds me of another chain in So. Cal that has bitten the dust: Love's Barbeque. I remember it being big in the 70s/80s... We didn't eat there often, so I can't say I miss it much.
 

BKM

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When I was a kid in Indiana, my parents used to always take us to H. Salt Esquire, Fish and Chips. Long gone from the midwest, but I was amazed to find a couple outlets (very 1960s) out here in California in a couple of the aging Bay Area strips.

Arthur Treachers was in Fort Wayne, too.
 

Mud Princess

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NYC department stores

* For a treat, my grandmother used to take me to Gimbel's East on 86th Street. I loved getting clothes there.

* Korvette's. THE place to buy records - when they were $3.99

* Alexander's (or does it still exist?). Grand Concourse, 1970s: Crowded, cooled with tall noisy electric fans, lots of women's underwear in bins
 

Repo Man

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Treasure Island - a K-Mart competitor, but crappier
Zayre - Replaced Treasure Islands, even crappier yet
Mainstream records - they used to rule the Milwaukee market for music now I think they are all but gone.
Woolworths
 

biscuit

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I remember eating at both the Maryland Fried Chicken and Po Folks while growing up. The Maryland Fried Chicken was a take-out/drive through that closed when I was six or seven years old. The Po Folks stayed around till about the late 80's. I always got a kick out of eating at Po Folks because they used Mason jars as tea glasses.

As for retail shops...Whatever happened to Roses, TG&Y, Sky-City? I vaugely recall those department stores from back in the day.
 

H

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WhataBurger!!!

For sure in north florida and dispersed through the south & south west, but think it is from texas, (as painful as it is to commend something from texas), I don’t drive by one without stopping!!

Plus growing up in ATL, Chic-fil-a was a regional chain, now I think it is national. Maybe?, at least a bigger region. They have one in the county building for Miami-Dade, I get one every time I am in there (about once a week), it reminds me of home. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…

My eating habits aren’t as bad as this makes them look, I stay healthy but do have a few weaknesses.

White Castle is another, but probably only because they have never had one where I lived, so that make it taste better I am sure.
 

Seabishop

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Child World toy stores. Church's fried chicken. JC Fox Dept. stores.

Soon every chain in the world will be on this list except for WalMart, your lord and master.
 

donk

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For retail, Eaton's, Simpson's and to a lesser extent the Hudson's Bay Company. All dpeartment store chains that no longer exist as they once did. I think Simpson's was bought by the Bay, Eaton's went bankrupt and is now owned by Sears.

The Bay is just not the same as it used to be and not nearly as accessible as it once was.

Coles Book Stores. With the introduction of Chapters and Indigo (online and big box book stores) the small mall book store is gone.

Then there was Sam the Record Man and A&A Records. Gone to HMV and Music World.

For restaurants, Mr. Sub - lost out to Subway and a reduced importance (on the come back though) of A&W Rootbeer.
 
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Cardinal

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Huston said:
White Castle is another, but probably only because they have never had one where I lived, so that make it taste better I am sure.
As a kid I used to get a kick out of White Castle, maybe because of the size of the burgers. They were not on the north side, so I remember eating there when we would go to a mall that eventually colsed. Great Chicago, I think it was called. It had an indoor amusement park.

I now stay far away from White Castle. Their burgers taste like greasy cardboard (about the same thickness) on a bun.
 

BKM

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White Castle

Speaking of White Castle, my hometown and some nearby places (Michigan) has a chain of 1940's slider-style burger joints called "Powers' Hamburgers." Still there. I went there with mom when I visited last year. Yum! Where are the artery-cleaning nanobots? :)
 

Tranplanner

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donk said:
For retail, Eaton's, Simpson's and to a lesser extent the Hudson's Bay Company. All dpeartment store chains that no longer exist as they once did. I think Simpson's was bought by the Bay, Eaton's went bankrupt and is now owned by Sears.

The Bay is just not the same as it used to be and not nearly as accessible as it once was.

Coles Book Stores. With the introduction of Chapters and Indigo (online and big box book stores) the small mall book store is gone.

Then there is Sam the Record Man and A&A Records. Gone to HMV and Music World.
Yeah, I miss Simpson's. Especially the bargain annex in the basement of the Queen Street store. And their toy department was second to none! The Bay is alright, but I never really shopped there until they bought out Simpson's.

Coles is actually part of Chapters/Indigo. There are actually one or two Coles bookstores still around, used to augment the big box stores in malls where there is enough traffic to warrant it (Eaton Centre, etc.). I miss WH Smith. They were far superior to Coles...

Others:

Woolco - retailer bought out by Walmart when they entered the Canadian market

Fran's - Toronto's original all-night diner. Great when it was the only game in town, but couldn't compete once others entered the marketplace.

St. Hubert's chicken - mostly gone, though one or two still remain. I think they're still fairly strong in Quebec.

Kresge's/Kmart - gone now in Canada. Good riddance.

The Firepit - AWESOME steak on a kaiser, fries, and other greasy fare...sigh.
 

plannerkat

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One word: BISCUITVILLE!

As far as I know they are only in central North Carolina & south central VA. The best damn biscuits & country ham outside of my grandma's kitchen!
 

biscuit

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plannerkat said:
One word: BISCUITVILLE!
Now that sounds like my kind of place! I imagine that's where all the beautiful people hang-out and eat. ;)
 

biscuit

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Planderella said:
Wow. I didn't realize that there are so many of them. They pulled out of the metro N.O. area around 15 years ago.
I had always thought that "Fuc*ruckers," as we called it in high school, was a regional chain in the South. Never had a clue that it's a nation-wide franchise. I love thier build-your-own burgers. To bad the closest one to me is three hours away in Gathersburg, MD. :(
 

SGB

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Mastiff said:
Does Freindly's still exist? It's been awhile since I've seen one...
Friendly's is still around in NY and New England. My 3 yr old son loves it - primarily because the waitresses always spoil him!

Edit: Actually, they are all over the eastern U.S. still.
 

Maroon

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It seems that Po' Folks is still around, though in many fewer states.

Is Flakey Jake's still around? Another hamburger toppings-bar place, with fresh-baked buns and good fries.

I have extremely found memories of shopping at 3-D, which apparently stood for Danner's Discount Department Store. Much better than K-Mart, at least in Logansport, IN in the early 80s.

Jerry's Restaurants seem to be declining.
 

Dan

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Maroon said:
I have extremely found memories of shopping at 3-D, which apparently stood for Danner's Discount Department Store. Much better than K-Mart, at least in Logansport, IN in the early 80s..
I've seen 3D stores before. Any still around? The list of dead discount department store chains is staggering ... Kings, Venture, Ames, Hills, Caldor, Bradlees. I think the only chains left in the US are Wal-Mart, Target, and Kmart, and in a few places, Meijer, Fred Meyer and Shopko.

There's also a dying discount department store chain in the West called Gibson's; it's something of a sub-Woolworth's in quality.

I wonder if Alco is growing, shrinking, or just limited to tiny Midwestern farm towns.

No more Sam the Record Man or Mister Sub? Tell me that's a joke.
 

donk

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Sam's went bust during the dot com era (bad online division), his son ran the company into the ground the only store remaining is the original on on Yonge Street. It was probably a way to avoid paying inheritance taxes and to shift ownership from one generation to another.

i have not seen a TV ad for Mr. Sub in about a year, there probably are some floating around, just not on the East Coast. (we have Ed's Subs, and Capt. Sub)
 

jmf

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Dan said:
No more Sam the Record Man or Mister Sub? Tell me that's a joke.
Nope, no joke! Sam's still has a couple of stores, one in Halifax even but Sam Sniderman is probably one the greatest promoters of Canadian music (http://www.cbc.ca/lifeandtimes/sniderman.html )

Mister Sub was far superior to Subway - there aren't any around eastern Canada anymore.

On the other hand, A&W seems to be making a comeback. We are getting a new free standing one near our home.
 

Tranplanner

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Dan said:
No more Sam the Record Man or Mister Sub? Tell me that's a joke.
Yeah, I think there are only a few Sam's around. The flagship store is still there, and I think is still enough of a draw to survive...but who knows. It's sitting on some very valuable land.

As for Mr. Sub - there are tons of them around Ontario. They actually seem to have been multiplying! I much prefer them to Subway.
 

Jeff

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There just aren't any establishments around anymore where I can get a good "Butter Burger."
 

H

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Zoning Goddess said:
Maas Bros. Dept stores in FL; I think they got sucked up by Burdines
And now Burdines has been sucked up by federated (seen here as Macy’s which was sucked up by Federated in the 80’s):)
 

Bear Up North

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Opening an old thread to add a few comments.....

Toledo, OH, had its' share of national and regional chains pull out:

Foodtown was the king of groceries for about thirty (30) years, all through NW Ohio. Purchased by a distributor of groceries with no retail grocery experience, Foodtown slipped and fell and then passed away. Kroger picked up most of the closed Foodtown's, remodeled, and became the new king in this area. I believe that Meijer's is second around here.

SS Kresge was my favorite place to buy baseball cards.......at Westgate Shopping Center, circa early 1960's. Of course Kresge became K-Mart and one (1) of the very first K's is on Central Avenue, in western suburbs area, still open.
The Westgate Kresge died when K came on.

Other Toledo "long gones":

Arlans, Woolco (and Woolworth, which was downtown), Ames, Hills, Arthur Treachers (which people who liked "food" referred to as "trecherous"), Taco Boy, Cookers (just lately).

T-Town had a local chain called Bargain Barn.....and the original, on North Detroit Avenue, really was just an old barn. It expanded during the "baby" years of discount retailing and became Bargain City, with a bunch of stores. It was purchased by a group called Rink's and eventually died. My wife, Katie, worked at one (1) when she was in high school.

One (1) of the giants of Toledo retail was called The Lion Store. It was Toledo's version of a Macy's or Marhsall Fields, and it was very successful for years. It's gone, too.

Toledo never had "sliders"....as in White Castle burgers. Within the last year a White Castle opened, near downtown. There was a chain called White Tower, with tiny, well-lit places that held about ten (10) people at a counter. This Bear was a regular to the White Tower in the Colony area (west Toledo), usually in somewhat of an inebriated :b: state, two (2) AM and giggling. Needed a big breakfast and :c: :c: :c: .

T-Town had some Church's Chicken outlets and I think they might all be gone. Adrian, MI, had one (1) that we used to stop at to pick up a bucket. The last time we went in there they said, "Can I help you?"....."Yes, a bucket of chicken, please."....."Sorry, we don't have any chicken today. Can I get you something else?" :-c :-@ That store is closed now.

The Big Boy chain in this area has been called Frisch's Big Boy for years and it was a very popular place. The changing of lifestyles, the deaths of many of their customers, a menu that hadn't changed in eight-million years......I gotta believe that they will die. Some have closed and at least one (1) closed and the building is being remodeled into a brew pub.

Bear
 
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Omaha had a couple of national chains that pulled out of the market in the early 80s then show up 20 years later.

Winchells- what happened? I preferred them over Dunkin Donuts and Krispy Kreme any day.

A&W - I'm starting to see them pop up in the Baltimore metro. My grandmother used to treat my brother and I to root beer floats on payday. I remember I used to be fascinated when I would see the order ticket be spun around that thing. The only A&W in north Omaha became a used car store which then became a Walgreens.

Kroger's a traditionally southern grocery chain has infiltrated the Omaha market, and they are awful.

I wish they would have Sonic's in Maryland, but they probably require too much real estate.

I love Godfather's Pizza. Maybe some of our midwestern brethren can testify on its behalf. I have only seen one Godfathers here in the northeast. It was exit 183 (I think) on I-81 in Pennsylvania. A 4 hour drive from Baltimore.
 
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