RE: Mr. Steak Restaurants...
This is my first post to this very interesting website and was truly delighted to find this thread regarding Mr. Steak Restaurants. That was my first real job in high school and I worked my way up to a company-trained assistant manager & trainer. I hired on at Mr. Steak #1 at 1709 West Littleton Boulevard, Littleton Colorado in late 1965 or early 1966, and continued to work there until I left for the Marine Corps in Jan. 1968.
I saw the piece on Wikipedia that was repeated in one of the above posts about the early history of the company, but it does not quite match my own personal memory.
The company officers that I can remember and personally knew to some degree were Jim Mathers, President, former Navy Lt Cdr, lived behind Littleton Senior High School; the Schiffo brothers, Lew & Tom, Vice Presidents, both very dynamic former Marine Corps Captains (my inspiration for joining the Marines); and Mr. Leavinson, Treasurer (don’t remember his first name).
My understanding from them was that the first unit was opened in Rockford, IL, but then the Littleton unit opened shortly thereafter. Originally it was a metal tables & chairs on brick floor affair and you went through a line with your tray to order your meals. They soon remodeled into the full service family steak restaurant that we all remember, with waitresses in red uniforms, white pin-in colors and white caps; cooks with red Mr. Steak shirts, white waist aprons and black slacks; and the manager in a red Mr. Steak blazer. I thought I had truly “arrived” when I earned my red blazer! Man was I proud!
I think the Rockford unit may have soon closed, not sure, but the Colorado Springs unit didn’t open until a year or two later. There must have been 5-6 units in the Denver area, and “Colfax” was always the real money maker. It was the only unit that also served breakfast.
As I said, I was assistant manager, and I attended “The Mr. Steak College of Restaurant Knowledge” (hoaky name, but truly great training) out near I-25 & Arapahoe Road. We would get a new franchisee every two weeks at our company unit #1 and would train him to go out and open his own store. When I left for the Marines in 1968, we had just under 400 units either fully open or under construction.
Someone asked about the sign. It was a very large cartoon-like Hereford bull’s head with a large white Mr. Steak chefs hat, slightly crossed eyes, and his tongue hanging out to one side.
Another person asked about a Continental. Mappelli-Lindner-Sigman (sp) was our meat source and the Continental was a proprietary double-patty affair that had some great cheese and mushrooms sealed inside, served on grilled french bread. Our “finger” sandwich sold very well, as did our french dip, and our Reuben. We also offered a very basic hamburger called a “Mr. B.” Our best selling steak was the “Frontier,” basically a filet mignons. I think we called our New York strip a “Mr. Steak Sirloin.” Our garnish was a lettuce leaf with two slices of red beats. We made our own bleu cheese dressing.
Mr. Steak #1 eventually relocated to the corner of Littleton Boulevard & Broadway, but the original building still stands today as some kind of mortgage or title company.
Sorry to write a short book, but all this brought back a flood of pleasant memories.
All good wishes,
Loudoun County, VA