Thursday, January 12, 2006

Breaking the chain

Scrubbles linked to this fun page, which discusses (and shows some pictures of) restaurant chains that have vanished (or almost vanished...apparently Arthur Treacher's lives on).

Burger Chef was a big part of my Minnesota childhood, primarily because I was a picky kid who didn't like mustard, and they would let you order burgers plain and dress them yourself at their condiment bar.

We also had Arthur Treacher's Fish and Chips, which was about the only chain I knew about that offered fast-food fish. The one near our house turned into a Winchell's Donut shop when the chain started to vanish.

I've heard of Sambo's, but I don't remember ever going to one, and Bob Greene's wonderful memoir "Be True to Your School" is full of memories of he and his friends going to the Toddle House, which was another chain we never had. The other chains are new to me. Minnie Pearl sold chicken? Did she leave the price tags on it?

13 comments:

Toni said...

I LOVED Sambo's as a kid. The author was right, the "Sambo" character in the restaurant was not black. I didn't know that Sambo was supposed to be black until I was an adult. I loved the painting of the tiger on the wall. When I was a kid, we went to Sambo's ALL the time, so, since I live in California, I am going to make a day trip out to Santa Barbara and check out the original.

Anonymous said...

Hi Gael -

We did have a Sambo's in Spokane. Despite what the website says about the owners Sam and Bo, ours was decorated with scenes from "Little Black Sambo" in the mid-70's. They did paint over the murals a little while before it became a Denny's. Just FYI!

Kim said...

That ominous-looking restaurant on Aurora Ave at about 90th--I think it's called "Traveler's" now?--has gone through several iterations, but it was a Sambo's when I was growing up, and I think my family went there close to weekly. (Yikes.) I belonged to some sort of birthday club where you got a sundae or something on your big day.

I also possessed a squishy, squeaky rubber doll of the Indian Sambo cartoon character. He wore a turban and had pointy curled-up Aladdin-y shoes. Nope, no stereotypes here! Move along! Heh.

SeaBoy said...

I grew up in small-town Indiana (kinda like John Mellencamp), for most of my childhood, we only had a Burger Chef! I loved that place. Oh, and we also had a Pizza Hut. Now, the Burger Chef is a car wash, and the town has a McDonalds, a Wendy's, an Applebees, a DQ that's only open in summer, and a couple of Subways. Two of my favorite chains are now defunct: Rax Roast Beef and Noble Roman's pizza.

Anonymous said...

Noble Roman\'s pizza is not defunct. A few months ago I had Noble Roman\'s at a little food court in the 4 Queens Casino in Las Vegas. http://www.nobleromans.com/

I fondly remember Sambo\'s in Champaign IL in the 70s. It was a couple of blocks from my apartment, and as a broke student I would go there on the weekends to get the 10 cent coffee with free refills. As a bonus, the newspaper machine in the Sambo\'s chronically malfunctioned, so when I bought the Courier I often got enough from the coin return slot to pay for the coffee.

Dimestore Lipstick said...

We had Minnie Pearl chicken franchises in the two nearest cities to where I grew up. It was great fried chicken, but the business end of things was a huge scam, and all the locations went under pretty fast. The unethical practices of the owners ended up driving some groundbreaking franchising legislation.

I also remember Burger Chef, Henry's Hamburgers, Sambo's and HoJos, from local locations to stops on our long family vacations (in a station wagon, naturally!) in the 1960's.

DrBear said...

When my wife and I were in Canada a couple of years ago we stopped at chain called Harvey's (canadian only, I found out) which broils the burgers and then puts the lettuce, ketchup, etc. on them in front of you to your order. Wasn't bad!

Dharmabumstead said...

I see that besides the many locations in Florida and scattered throughout the midwest, Arthur Treacher's is opening a new restaurant in the financial black hole / money launderer's paradise of the Cayman Islands. With a P.O. box listed as the address. Hmmm....

Anonymous said...

There was a Sambo's in Cottage Grove, MN that lasted until the mid 70's, I'm guessing, when it was bought out by some local. I don't have much memory of it either then going there once. Nice to know that there's still one there.

roughmagic said...

Burger Chef! I actually remember their jingle: "Fif-teen cents: a nickel and a dime. At Burger Chef you eat better ev'ry time!" It runs through my head whenever I'm really tired. Or if I see something that costs 15 cents.

Michele said...

I LOVED Arthur Treachers. We still had one in Milwaukee, WI in the 80's. My friend Kim & I stopped once a week on the way home from our Catholic all girls high school. Oh the memories! I could go for a hush puppy right now.

Gael said...

Michele: Another Upper Midwest Catholic girls' school product here (hail Derham Hall!). Did you go to Divine Savior Holy Angels?

Anonymous said...

yeagh i can remember author treachers fish-n-chips, pappa/momma/babay burger baskets from a&w,churches chicken, the taco stand in downtown mpls, and clarks submarine sandwiches, all were the best