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 Five and dime store lunch counters?

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Hepcat

  • Total Posts: 374
  • Joined: 10/6/2003
  • Location: Toronto, Ontario
Five and dime store lunch counters? Wed, 10/17/12 11:50 AM (permalink)
I still have fond memories of the lunch counters at the five and dime stores in downtown London, Ontario. My mother would take me along in the late fifties/early sixties while she shopped at the Kresge, Metropolitan, Woolworth and Zellers stores. I didn't mind as I could peruse Great Garloo and the Aurora monster model kits in the toy department, the goldfish, budgies and little turtles in the pet department and the bulk candies. The coup de grace though was always hitting her up for a bowl of ice cream at one of the lunch counters, usually at the Kresge store but sometimes in Metropolitan. I remember the ice cream being served in a stainless steel dish with a cardboard insert.  
 
The newer Woolworth stores across the street and three blocks away at the Wellington Square Mall not only had larger counters but also featured ice cream sandwiches made with a square of neapolitan ice cream in between two ice cream cone type wafers for fifteen cents! Wow!
 
Unfortunately, all the Kresge and Woolworth stores in Toronto, Hamilton and London closed by the mid-nineties. The downtown Bay store in Toronto still had a basement level restaurant consisting of a multiple U-shaped lunch counter up until about eight years ago. I think it was called the Flamingo or something up until the mid-nineties when it was moved to the other side of the store. That too though is sadly gone.
 
Does anyone else have fond memories of department store lunch counters? What did you like to order? And do any still exist in your neck of the woods, either in department stores or ones with an identical feel elsewhere?
 

 

 

<message edited by Hepcat on Thu, 10/18/12 10:22 AM>
 
#1
    brisketboy

    • Total Posts: 1059
    • Joined: 6/11/2007
    • Location: Austin, TX
    Re:Five and dime store lunch counters? Wed, 10/17/12 11:58 AM (permalink)
    I have the same memories growing up in cChicago's north side. I can't remember what my mom would order for me but hers was always an openfaced turkey sandwich.
     
    #2
      Twinwillow

      • Total Posts: 4900
      • Joined: 4/15/2006
      • Location: "Big D"
      Re:Five and dime store lunch counters? Wed, 10/17/12 12:12 PM (permalink)
      I have fond memories of eating grilled cheese and tuna salad sandwiches with fountain Cokes at Woolworth's in the NYC area as a youngster during the fifties. I sure miss those days. In my opinion, our country's finest decade was the 1950's! Life was so good then.
      <message edited by Twinwillow on Wed, 10/17/12 12:15 PM>
       
      #3
        brisketboy

        • Total Posts: 1059
        • Joined: 6/11/2007
        • Location: Austin, TX
        Re:Five and dime store lunch counters? Wed, 10/17/12 12:52 PM (permalink)
        It was a lot simpler, that for sure. But yeah, the fountain Cokes, I almost forgot.
         
        #4
          ann peeples

          • Total Posts: 8317
          • Joined: 5/21/2006
          • Location: West Allis, Wisconsin
          Re:Five and dime store lunch counters? Wed, 10/17/12 1:36 PM (permalink)
          The Woolworths in downtown Milwaukee was a favorite destination. Great egg salad sandwiches! i dont think our Kresge's had a lunch counter....
           
          #5
            Hepcat

            • Total Posts: 374
            • Joined: 10/6/2003
            • Location: Toronto, Ontario
            Re:Five and dime store lunch counters? Wed, 10/17/12 1:47 PM (permalink)
            Twinwillow
              I sure miss those days. In my opinion, our country's finest decade was the 1950's! Life was so good then.

             
            You never know what you've got till it's gone. That's why I'd like to know of any lunch counters similar to these that are still around today. 
             

             
            Look how mobbed the above Kresge lunch counter in Windsor, Ontario was during its heyday. The lunch counter at the Metropolitan (or was it the Kresge?) store in London did such a thriving business that they operated a satellite fast takeout stand at the front of the store as well which served a more limited menu of hamburgers, hot dogs, french fries, fountain drinks and coffee for the local office crowd. Oh I want to go back so badly!
             

            <message edited by Hepcat on Thu, 10/18/12 10:25 AM>
             
            #6
              rumaki

              • Total Posts: 968
              • Joined: 3/1/2008
              • Location: Minneapolis, MN
              Re:Five and dime store lunch counters? Wed, 10/17/12 1:50 PM (permalink)
              Going to the Woolworth's lunch counter was a ritual when I was a child in the early 1960s.  When I was in grade school (grades 1-6), our first day of class was only a half day. We'd get our school supplies list, and my mother would take me to Woolworth's to get my supplies and to have lunch.  I always had a hot dog on a buttered, toasted, New England-style bun, and a fountain Coke (which was a real treat, because our parents only allowed us, usually, to have one soft drink a week, on Saturday evenings).
               
              One of the department stores in Rochester, NY (where I had my first job after getting my law degree), McCurdy's, had a lunch counter like the one you described. This was in 1979-81; I have no idea whether it still does or not, or whether the store still exists. 
              http://departmentstoremuseum.blogspot.com/2010/11/mccurdy-co-rochester-new-york_24.html
               
              And the old Marshall Fields State Street store (now Macy's) in Chicago (where I went to college) also had one, but not in the basement -- it was upstairs.
               
               
               
              #7
                will_work_4_bbq

                • Total Posts: 401
                • Joined: 1/11/2006
                • Location: Birmingham, AL
                Re:Five and dime store lunch counters? Wed, 10/17/12 2:18 PM (permalink)
                Come on down, Hepcat.  We have one left; it's in a drugstore.  And they serve fabulous  burgers and very good shakes.
                 
                #8
                  Hepcat

                  • Total Posts: 374
                  • Joined: 10/6/2003
                  • Location: Toronto, Ontario
                  Re:Five and dime store lunch counters? Wed, 10/17/12 2:31 PM (permalink)
                  A drugstore! That's fabulous!
                   

                   
                  Which drugstore? Is it right downtown? How old is it? If you had to label it either a soda fountain or a lunch counter, which term would you choose?
                   

                   
                  #9
                    tiki

                    • Total Posts: 4135
                    • Joined: 7/7/2003
                    • Location: Rentiesville, OK
                    Re:Five and dime store lunch counters? Wed, 10/17/12 2:50 PM (permalink)
                    The one in my home town is still kickin and just as busy as ever--i make it a point of going  there everytime i am home   Google images has some great pics of it--LOVE the color scheme--dont know how to post pics--but  goole images of Lord's Dept store in Medfield Ma
                     
                     
                     
                    #10
                      Heartbreaksoup

                      • Total Posts: 409
                      • Joined: 10/13/2009
                      • Location: Atlanta, GA
                      Re:Five and dime store lunch counters? Wed, 10/17/12 3:02 PM (permalink)
                      There's a pretty good lunch counter at ADD Drugs in Athens.  A couple of hundred mils southwest, of course, there's Dinglewood Pharmacy in Columbus, but I don't really believe that anybody actually buys anything there other than lunch.
                       
                      #11
                        Hepcat

                        • Total Posts: 374
                        • Joined: 10/6/2003
                        • Location: Toronto, Ontario
                        Re:Five and dime store lunch counters? Wed, 10/17/12 4:04 PM (permalink)
                        tiki


                        The one in my home town is still kickin and just as busy as ever--i make it a point of going  there everytime i am home   Google images has some great pics of it--LOVE the color scheme--dont know how to post pics--but  goole images of Lord's Dept store in Medfield Ma
                         
                          

                         
                          
                           


                         
                        Looks great to me! I'd stop by for sure.
                         

                        <message edited by Hepcat on Wed, 10/17/12 4:07 PM>
                         
                        #12
                          donw9876

                          • Total Posts: 289
                          • Joined: 3/1/2008
                          • Location: Daytonati, OH
                          Re:Five and dime store lunch counters? Wed, 10/17/12 5:08 PM (permalink)
                          In Dayton, Ohio through the early 1970s was Culp's Cafeteria. It was the same kind of experience, but in a separate restaurant inside a downtown shopping mall called the Arcade. Today, there is a recreated "touristic" version inside Dayton's Carillon Park that is allegedly good.
                           
                          My mother and grandmother loved Culp's and I remember sitting at that counter eating big, sloppy, delicious hamburgers with my mother.
                           
                          All pretty much gutted from the scene today.
                           

                           
                          #13
                            Twinwillow

                            • Total Posts: 4900
                            • Joined: 4/15/2006
                            • Location: "Big D"
                            Re:Five and dime store lunch counters? Wed, 10/17/12 5:31 PM (permalink)
                            In Dallas we still have the Highland Park Soda Fountain with new owners, Gretchen and Sonny Williams. Formally, it was the Highland Park Pharmacy. The lunch counter remains the same size but now, I'm too fat to sit at it!
                            http://www.highlandparkso...m/images/HPSF-menu.pdf
                             
                             
                            #14
                              Twinwillow

                              • Total Posts: 4900
                              • Joined: 4/15/2006
                              • Location: "Big D"
                              Re:Five and dime store lunch counters? Wed, 10/17/12 5:41 PM (permalink)
                              The counter at Highland Park Soda Fountain when it was the Highland Park Pharmacy.
                              http://www.dallasnews.com...s-100.ece?ssimg=551140
                               
                               
                               
                               
                              #15
                                Twinwillow

                                • Total Posts: 4900
                                • Joined: 4/15/2006
                                • Location: "Big D"
                                Re:Five and dime store lunch counters? Wed, 10/17/12 6:05 PM (permalink)
                                Hepcat


                                I still have fond memories of the lunch counter at the Kresge store in downtown London, Ontario. My mother would take me along in the late fifties/early sixties while she shopped at the Kresge, Zellers, Metropolitan and Woolworth stores. I didn't mind as I coul
                                d peruse Great Garloo and the Aurora monster model kits in the toy department, the goldfish, budgies and little turtles in the pet department and the bulk candies. The coup de grace though was always hitting her up for a bowl of ice cream in one of those stainless steel dishes they used at the lunch counter.

                                The newer Woolworth stores across the street and three blocks away at the Wellington Square Mall not only had larger counters but also featured ice cream sandwiches made with a square of neapolitan ice cream in between two ice cream cone type wafers for fifteen cents! Wow!

                                Unfortunately, all the Kresge and Woolworth stores in Toronto, Hamilton and London closed by the mid-nineties. The downtown Bay store in Toronto still had a basement level restaurant consisting of a multiple U-shaped lunch counter up until about eight years ago. I think it was called the Flamingo or something up until the mid-nineties when it was moved to the other side of the store. That too though is sadly gone.

                                Does anyone else have fond memories of department store lunch counters? What did you like to order? And do any still exist in your neck of the woods, either in department stores or ones with an identical feel elsewhere?







                                 
                                This is one of the reasons for obesity in America, today. Note the simple lunch menu. That's how we used to eat before everything became "supersized"!
                                 
                                #16
                                  ces1948

                                  • Total Posts: 1499
                                  • Joined: 8/6/2003
                                  • Location: Port St Lucie, Fl
                                  Re:Five and dime store lunch counters? Wed, 10/17/12 6:13 PM (permalink)
                                  I've seen the Woolworth's menu in the top post several times on the Internet. On that menu the only thing that needed to be cooked was the bacon on the bacon and tomato sandwich. Since this was way pre microwave days I wonder how they cooked it as apparently there was no grill.
                                   
                                  #17
                                    Hepcat

                                    • Total Posts: 374
                                    • Joined: 10/6/2003
                                    • Location: Toronto, Ontario
                                    Re:Five and dime store lunch counters? Wed, 10/17/12 7:55 PM (permalink)
                                    That can't be the whole menu though. I remember items such as hamburgers that had to be fried on the grill and french fries that had to be deep fried at the lunch counters in the Kresge, Woolworth and Metropolitan stores.
                                     

                                     
                                    #18
                                      Hepcat

                                      • Total Posts: 374
                                      • Joined: 10/6/2003
                                      • Location: Toronto, Ontario
                                      Re:Five and dime store lunch counters? Wed, 10/17/12 8:08 PM (permalink)
                                      Twinwillow


                                      In Dallas we still have the Highland Park Soda Fountain with new owners, Gretchen and Sonny Williams. Formally, it was the Highland Park Pharmacy.

                                       
                                      From the pictures it looks as if they still sell some drug store items. Do they still have a magazine rack?
                                       
                                      Twinwillow


                                      http://www.highlandparkso...m/images/HPSF-menu.pdf
                                       

                                       
                                      Cool! Phosphates! That's something I've never seen on a menu in southern Ontario or Montreal. 



                                       
                                      #19
                                        ces1948

                                        • Total Posts: 1499
                                        • Joined: 8/6/2003
                                        • Location: Port St Lucie, Fl
                                        Re:Five and dime store lunch counters? Wed, 10/17/12 9:42 PM (permalink)
                                        I do remember a Rexall drug store lunch counter that didn't have a grill and served the egg salad, ham salad etc. They also had hotdogs but no fries or hamburgers.
                                         
                                        #20
                                          tiki

                                          • Total Posts: 4135
                                          • Joined: 7/7/2003
                                          • Location: Rentiesville, OK
                                          Re:Five and dime store lunch counters? Wed, 10/17/12 9:49 PM (permalink)
                                          Hepcat!!--killer--thanks--going back there again in May amd this is my 2nd lunch stop--the first is the pizza place next door!--I remember going into Pat's Bella Pizza for lunch one day when i was young--maybe in 66--and he said--in broken english-"You gunna havta eat at Lords next aweek--i gotta go Italy and find a wife.---and he did! in  4 days--seems his family there had a dozen prospects for him to choose from! She was a keeper!! and they made awesome pies!
                                           
                                           
                                          #21
                                            mamaduck43

                                            • Total Posts: 184
                                            • Joined: 9/15/2008
                                            • Location: Denmark, WI
                                            Re:Five and dime store lunch counters? Wed, 10/17/12 9:56 PM (permalink)
                                            I worked at a WT Grant store in the early 60's, in the Northern Pittsburgh area...  I was asked to fill in at the lunch counter when they got busy, and to sub if one of the usual workers was not there....  We had a flat top grill, a deep fryer and prided ourselves on a quick turnover of customers... 
                                             
                                            One of the skills that I retained was the ability to put a plate of bacon, eggs, hashbrowns and toast in front of a patron, almost as quick as setting them up with a bowl and individual box of cereal...  I surprised the heck out of my 15 year old grandson when he stopped by on his way to morning band practice...  He had barely gotten his jacket off when I had a plate of perfectly done breakfast in front of him....  He was amazed!!!!
                                             
                                            It was also great practice in having everything get finished at the same time..... 
                                             
                                            #22
                                              Twinwillow

                                              • Total Posts: 4900
                                              • Joined: 4/15/2006
                                              • Location: "Big D"
                                              Re:Five and dime store lunch counters? Wed, 10/17/12 11:23 PM (permalink)
                                              Ahh, the good old days.
                                               
                                              #23
                                                ces1948

                                                • Total Posts: 1499
                                                • Joined: 8/6/2003
                                                • Location: Port St Lucie, Fl
                                                Re:Five and dime store lunch counters? Wed, 10/17/12 11:49 PM (permalink)
                                                I seem to remember some lunch counters having small cans of campbell's soup on display. You picked one and they would heat it up for you, I guess in a sauce pan. Anyone remember that?
                                                 
                                                #24
                                                  FriedClamFanatic

                                                  • Total Posts: 1503
                                                  • Joined: 7/14/2008
                                                  • Location: west chester, PA
                                                  Re:Five and dime store lunch counters? Thu, 10/18/12 12:35 AM (permalink)
                                                  JJ Newberry's on Cape Cod.......known to all of us kids in the 50's/60's as the five and ten, had just one long counter with swivel seats.must have 300-400 of them!  (just kidding..........."kid perspective"...they had maybe 25). The floor sloped up from the street for some reason.
                                                   
                                                  Couple of great old ladies would fix you a burger and fries with a Vanilla shake for about 50 cents, maybe less. The burger cooked on one of those great old Grills and flattened with a big cast iron "smasher"  bun and burger,  The burger would come out about 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick, buttery and greasy.  A limpid Tomato on the side, along with a leaf of lettuce.  And some of the greatest  thin golden French Fries this side of the Cape Cod Canal! A little paper cup of Mayo could be requested, but ketchup and mustard were every 3 seats. Making the shake into a Frappe cost an extra dime foir the ice cream, but it was so much richer as it whirled in one of those metal containers that mysteriously fitted in to the twirling thingy!
                                                   
                                                  But for more fun and greater camaraderie, we'd go to Fenstermaker's pharmacy (for some reason we always called it, Nyal's...previous owner?). It was closer, had better candy and less stools, but nicer waitresses that knew us and fixed us lemon cokes for 10 cents.  The best ones were on Sunday morning when a bud&I would trapse out of church halfway through the family service with all the other kids who were going to Sunday School while the parents sat through the sssssermon (or should that have "z"'s?), but we would turn left rather than right and time it so we were back in time when the service ended.  Alas, they had no fry-o-lator.
                                                   
                                                  By the time i got my license, we had our first shopping mall........Stop&Shop, First National, both a Woolworths AND a Grants, but I don't think either had lunch counters.........but it had..........OMG!!!!!!!! A Friendly's!  They had Booths! as well as stools.  Neat burgers on toast of all things (and slightly thicker than above), equally scrumptious fries......and Awful-Awful's! ( They later got sued to change the name of their Frappe concoction)
                                                  <message edited by FriedClamFanatic on Thu, 10/18/12 12:40 AM>
                                                   
                                                  #25
                                                    Yankeedoodle

                                                    • Total Posts: 15
                                                    • Joined: 5/9/2012
                                                    • Location: Binghamton, NY
                                                    Re:Five and dime store lunch counters? Thu, 10/18/12 5:20 AM (permalink)
                                                    Ahhh The hotdog baskets at Woolworth. I'd go look at toys until it was served while my mother waited. She'd get a turkey club. we also had a McCRory's for banana splits...you'd pop a balloon and and get a slip to pay any where from a penny (never happened to me) to 99 cents (almost always). They also had the grilled dogs on a buttered toasted bun....MMMMMMMMMMMM.
                                                     
                                                    #26
                                                      will_work_4_bbq

                                                      • Total Posts: 401
                                                      • Joined: 1/11/2006
                                                      • Location: Birmingham, AL
                                                      Re:Five and dime store lunch counters? Thu, 10/18/12 8:37 AM (permalink)
                                                      Hepcat


                                                      A drugstore! That's fabulous!



                                                      Which drugstore? Is it right downtown? How old is it? If you had to label it either a soda fountain or a lunch counter, which term would you choose?



                                                      It's a suburban drugstore but old as the hills.  It's been there as long as I can remember - which would be over 50 years.  Green Valley Drugs in Hoover, AL.  It is both a lunch counter and soda fountain.....people flock there, starting around 11am, for hand-formed, beefy burgers and thick hand-made shakes.  They have a counter with stools as well as a few tables.  I recall a few other items on the menu but I've always gone for the burgers.
                                                       
                                                      #27
                                                        pnwchef

                                                        • Total Posts: 2251
                                                        • Joined: 3/16/2011
                                                        • Location: Kennewick, WA
                                                        Re:Five and dime store lunch counters? Thu, 10/18/12 8:55 AM (permalink)
                                                        Great pictures, thanks for the memories. I remember sitting next to my Mom when I was about 4 or 5 yrs old at a Woolworths lunch counter. I had a English muffin with a Hot Chocolate and my mom had a cup of Tea with her English muffin. I have traveled around the world, saw many sites and met a lot of people, this is the memory that stands out the best........Bill
                                                        P.S. IF you look at the pictures, everyone is talking to each other. Today's lunch counter would have everyone texting or watching a movie on a ipad.
                                                         
                                                        #28
                                                          kaszeta

                                                          Re:Five and dime store lunch counters? Thu, 10/18/12 9:53 AM (permalink)
                                                          ces1948


                                                          I seem to remember some lunch counters having small cans of campbell's soup on display. You picked one and they would heat it up for you, I guess in a sauce pan. Anyone remember that?

                                                          Yes, the former "Post Office Fruit Luncheonette" in Manchester, NH still had this in 2003 (they closed several years ago, and the building has been refurbed as the "PO Fruit Diner", but, to my knowledge, hasn't actually reopened yet), with special electric warming mugs that plugged into a little unit. 
                                                           
                                                          The system is actually visible here, although you have to zoom in on it.  When I get home, I'll check my master photo library, I think I have a picture of it:

                                                           
                                                          That place was a perfect 1950s time capsule
                                                           
                                                          #29
                                                            Hepcat

                                                            • Total Posts: 374
                                                            • Joined: 10/6/2003
                                                            • Location: Toronto, Ontario
                                                            Re:Five and dime store lunch counters? Thu, 10/18/12 10:32 AM (permalink)
                                                            tiki


                                                            Hepcat!!--killer--thanks--going back there again in May and this is my 2nd lunch stop--the first is the pizza place next door

                                                             
                                                            Good stuff! Please tell us all about it when the time comes.
                                                             
                                                             

                                                             
                                                            #30
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