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Kevin

Hi, my name is Kevin Williams and I am owner of Oasis Newsfeatures and editor of The Amish Cook newspaper column.

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65 Comments

  1. Karen Gervais

    I remember SERVICE MERCHANDISE. Did you ever hear of Carroll’s? I think that’s how you spell it. It was like McDonald’s. They had burgers, fries, soda, shakes. The last time I saw one still open was 40 years ago (WOW!! that was a long time ago).

    Reply
    1. Christine

      We had a Carroll’s here. I still have the Pepsi glasses they gave out. I liked their burgers better than McDonalds

      Reply
  2. Margie Peeno

    I remember Burger Chef. During my senior year I went there for dinner every day after the library and before work from January through June. but this was 36 years ago and it is long gone.

    Reply
  3. Margie Conrad

    I loved Service Merchandise, purchased a lot of items from them.
    I remember when Rinks was one of the only stores open on Sunday afternoons. A Burger Chef was on the west side of Hamilton, really good sandwiches.

    Reply
  4. Barb W.

    I remember going to Service Merchandise, and eating at Burger Chef.

    Reply
  5. Jo ann Boyce

    I read the Amish Cook every week. We met you and Lovina and Joe at a book signing in Cinci. in 2008. I enjoy it very much.

    Reply
    1. Kevin

      Thank you, Jo…I take it was Joseph-Beth?

      Reply
  6. Mel

    I’m from Cincinnati, so I remember all of those! I loved going through the Service Merchandise catalogu and shopping at the store. We used to stop at Burger Chef for lunch on our way to my Grandparents’ in Indiana- what a treat! Oh, and Farrell’s! That’s where we had my birthday parties and celebrated good grades. We got the ‘Zoo’ a few times and I could polish off a ‘Gibson Girl’ (meant for 2 or 3 people) all by myself (I love ice cream). I miss that place the most!

    Reply
    1. Kevin

      Ah, Mel, glad someone else remembers those places….gone, but definitely not forgotten…Ah, and Bill Knapps another shuttered classic:(

      Reply
    2. elaine janis

      I loved Farrells, I seem to remember the big ice cream dish was the Pigs Tough, it fed a number of folks. The Tin Roof was my favorite.

      Reply
      1. Kevin

        Ah, the tin roof…loved it!:)

  7. BethR

    I totally remember Burger Chef. There was one behind my Jr. High and we’d go there for lunch on half-days. They were the first place I remember that had a “works bar” – tomato, lettuce, etc. We also had a Service Merchandise by us – wow, that is a blast from the past!

    Reply
    1. Kevin

      Good memories, nice to see you on here, Beth!

      Reply
  8. Joyce from So. Hutchinson

    Oh I loved Service Merch! We bought our first wedding rings there and many other things for our home! And Bill Knapps-wow, haven’t thought of them in years!! I really missed going to the one in Columbus, OH when we moved out to Kansas in the early 80’s! Ah and Burger Chef too-and I think was it Big Boy something or other that had the huge statue out front? Those were the days!!!

    Reply
    1. BobJ

      Maybe “Bob’s Big Boy”?

      Reply
  9. Linda from KY

    There was a Rink’s then a Zayre’s in my part of KY, too. I remember shopping at Zayre’s in particular when I was in my early 20s with a small daughter.

    I miss Burger Chef! I remember their kids’ meals and the works bar.
    My husband and I bought our wedding rings at Service Merchandise.

    Another store that I miss is Richter & Phillips. They had locations in Cincinnati and Northern KY. My parents bought a watch there for my 24th birthday. At the time they, my older sister and I all worked downtown. The downstore was where my parents bought the watch. They presented it to me during our lunch hours. That is a good memory.

    Oh, yes! Bill Knapps! I remember that restaurant well. We went to the one on Beechmont Road. Their food was so good. Everything there was delicious. I remember they had those meal deals where you could get a four-course meal which included dessert for a very reasonable price. I took my oldest sister there once when she was in town, and she was very impressed. I was so sad when they closed their doors.

    Reply
  10. Nancy LaLiberte

    No one makes AuGratin Potatoes like Bill Knapps…. it was an outstanding restaurant. The employees were trained well and the food always looked and tasted great. A nice place for a family celebration. The Big Chef’s at Burger Chef were really good, also. It was inexpensive, and we frequently stopped there for a quick meal. They never seemed to make the same splash as McDonald’s, but we liked their food. Probably loaded with salt…. something we didn’t give thought to in those days.

    Reply
  11. Theresa

    I remember Service Merchandise. That is also where we bought our wedding rings as well as a set of Royal Doulton Old Country Roses for one of our anniversaries.

    Reply
  12. Sara in IN

    Shopping on Sunday at Rinks, Grandma though it rather sinful, but convienent. Oh yes, the Ohio blue laws back in the day : the only things open on Sunday were the bakery, a couple of drugstores, and a grocery. It could be a challenge finding an open filling station in some area that did not have an interstate or tourist trade.

    Zayre’s – ran into those in Illinois in mid 70’s – can’t say I was ever that thrilled by them.

    Burger Chef, or “booger chef” as most of the dorm had named them. Yes, they were cheap, but the food was much better walking a few blocks further to Roy Rogers for ‘roast beef’ sandwiches, speaking of another blast from the past – Rax. Used to lots of Rax in Illinois and Ohio. Last Rax I saw was in Lancaster, OH. I can’t recall if it was open this last December or not.

    Hornsby’s was another pre-Walmart discount chain, mostly in Illinois, I think. Venture was another pre-Walmart chain that died in the 80’s, early 90’s in the Midwest.

    I remember HoJo’s when they ran the plazas on the Ohio Turnpike. One aunt particularly liked eating her local HoJo’s near I-75 on Friday for their fish. Being a kid I was mostly interested their ice cream. Remember Arthur Treacher’s Fish and Chips ? Lancaster, OH still had one of those as of a couple of years ago. I’m beginning to wonder if Lancaster, OH is in a time warp.

    Reply
  13. Tom

    We still have several things we bought at Service Merchandise, what a great store! A Super Shef or a Big Chef were always my favorites at Burger Chef, and I loved the Double-R Bar burger from Roy Rogers. Also miss Bonanza steak house.

    Reply
    1. Jessica

      I remember Bonanza!!

      Reply
      1. Kevin

        Me too…that brings back some memories…I think there was one downtown in my hometown…

  14. Barbara Weber

    Half the things in my home came from Service Merchandise I remember when they upgraded to the computer, they had a stand where you could order stuff.. I was so impressed and yes the one on the west side of Cincinnati was one of the last ones to go.
    Swallens was the other store I always went to.
    What about Sandys? We had one almost next door to us in Cincinnati.
    The last time I looked, Richter Phillips, was still in downtown Cincinnati.Of course I don’t remember the last time I looked.

    Reply
    1. Linda from KY

      I haven’t been to downtown Cincinnati for years. It’s not as much fun as used to be, nor do I have as much money as I used to.

      Reply
  15. Barbara Dierksheide

    I remember all the stores you mentioned but not some of the regional ones other readers mentioned. I graduated from Archbold High School and I remember when there was no McDonald’s in Archbold. Read your column online and each week again in The Farmland News. Enjoy the column and especially the recipes! Thanks for all the hard work!

    Reply
    1. Kevin

      Barbara, so nice to hear from from a Farmland News reader!!! I gave a talk in Archbold once and the Farmland News is a long-time customer…Please don’t be a stranger!

      Reply
      1. lisa baker

        I loved going to Burger Chef.I remember the hamburgers came in a baggie type wrapping they were always warm and good:) I also miss Ponderosa Steak House, the salad bar and rolls were always fresh and yummy.

      2. Kevin

        Welcome Lisa, and – SIGH – you just brought back some good food memories!

  16. Jessica

    Being in San Antonio, I think some of these didn’t make it down here. I remember Service Merchandise. What I miss is Winn’s. I’m not sure how widespread those were. I’d go there with my grandparents all the time and get Icees (I’d mix the cherry and the coke flavors). There was also Eckert Pharmacy (I think they’re all CVS now) that my grandma got her prescriptions at.

    I guess the think I miss most down here is when we had a variety of grocery stores. We used to have Albertson’s, Kroger’s, Handy Andy, etc. and now it’s pretty much H-E-B, unless you shop at Walmart or Sam’s Club/Costco. All the competition’s gone 🙁

    Reply
    1. Kevin

      Ah, good to see you on here, Jessica, I’ve missed you!

      Reply
  17. Jessica

    Ugh…that should have said the *thing* I miss most.

    Reply
  18. Mary

    Burger Chef….I worked there in Jackson, MI in my senior year. I was usually responsible, during the lunch rush, for taking care of the Works Bar and we had salad bars also. We also had a Rinks store and would stop there after school (jr. high) to buy pantyhose, etc!!! Boy we thought we were pretty cool. The Service Merchandise catalog was always a major dream book.

    Once again Thank You Kevin, for bringing up a blast from the past!!!

    Reply
  19. Mona G.

    I remember BURGER CHEF & SERVICE MERCHANDISE, but none of the others……burger chef had great hamburgers too…..wonder what happened ????

    Reply
  20. Jan Landwehr

    Rember Woolworth’s and Kresge’s (which became K-Mart)?
    The one I miss the most is Swallen’s. I could buy almost anything there. Wealso had Dow Drug Stores, which had lunch counters with the best boiled ham sandwiches.

    Reply
    1. Nancy

      I remember both of those and their lunch counters. Down here in St Pete, we even had a movie filmed at my favorite Woolworth’s.

      I also remember Service Merchandise and Burger Chef. When I was a senior in high school, we would rush down there on our lunch break.

      Zayre’s was a brain child of L.S. Ayres department store. I don’t know if Ayres was a chain or not, but it was one of the top department stores in Indianapolis.

      Reply
  21. Diann

    We bought a lot of stuff at Service Merchandise. Sure miss having them around. Loved Burger Chef! Also Western Sizzlin’, Red Barn (hamburgers), London Bobby and Arthur Treacher’s. I heard Cassano’s is bringing back London Bobby. There’s supposed to be one in the Cassano’s on Stroop Rd. in Dayton. Will have to try it! Also remember Hill’s, Rinks, Goldman’s Bargain Barn, Kresge’s, Woolworth’s, Mc Crory’s, Gold Circle and Value City. I could probably come up with a lot more……

    Reply
  22. Cheryl

    I miss my service m. They had neat stuff. I bought my luggage and a regular size ping pong table….among other large items. Loved dollar days @ zayres. Good place for yarn and other craft items.

    Did Bill Knapps in Michigan few times.

    Reply
  23. Cheryl

    I also miss the A & P grocery store!

    Reply
  24. Jill

    I remember we did most of our shopping when I was growing up in the 70’s at Gold Circle, Hills, and Woolworths. I loved going to Gold Circle, because I knew I could get a cherry Icee at the snack bar! I also remember Service Merchandise, we shopped there and I loved looking through their catalog over and over, and circling everything I wanted for Christmas! 🙂 We used to go to the old A&W rootbeer in Fairborn, the best floats anywhere!

    Reply
    1. Diann

      My husband loved the homemade vegetable soup at the Fairborn A&W. Sure hated it when they went out! Now there is a home remodeling place there. 🙁

      Reply
  25. Tiffanie

    I grew up in Portland, OR, the original Farrell’s location. Yes, it was called the zoo! We always had that for birthday parties. The good news? They are making a comeback, only in California so far, I think. But there are 3 new locations and we just went about 3 weeks ago. They still beat the drum and make the birthday person stand on a chair while they sing!

    Reply
  26. Tiffanie

    Oh, I used to miss A&W and Drive-in theaters, but we have them here in our little small town. There are a few good things about California…

    Reply
    1. Nancy

      A couple more things that I enjoyed growing up in small town Mid-America.

      Reply
  27. Dianne

    I remember all those places, another one was PoFolks, I loved that place. The seafood gumbo I ever ate. Minnie Pearl’s Chicken and Kenny Rogers chicken. Nice little trip down memory lane.

    Reply
  28. Linda

    Out West here, (the Seattle-Tacoma area) we had Farrell’s, too. When our two boys were small, we always went there for their birthdays. The servers would come out banging on a big bass drum and stand at your table singing. My oldest son once dove under the table because he was scared at all the commotion. (His son in now a drummer in the school band.)
    We also had A&P stores, where I had my first job at the age of 15. I miss Sprouse-Reitz stores, which was a true “dime store”–you could get all kinds of things for just a dime. That’s where I did all my Christmas shopping for my family when I was a kid.

    Reply
    1. Kevin

      Linda, good to hear from a News-Tribune reader…we miss our Tacoma readers, but welcome to you here!

      Reply
  29. Christine

    I also liked shopping at Service Merchandise. The only one around here was in Lancaster, PA. Loved Rax but could do without Arther Treachers, I didn’t care for the flavor of the coating. We had a Stop and Go fast food, liked that one too, before McD’s. One I wish that would come to my area is a Steak and Shake. Love their milkshakes and hubby likes the chili. When we visit Toledo we make it a stop everytime.

    Reply
  30. Boyd

    Oh yes I remember Farrell’s and Burger Chef when I lived in Detroit,l also remember Bill Knapps as my mom used to takes us their occassionally. We had Service Merchandise here in San Antonio. Also from my Detroit days were the Food Fair grocery and Chatham stores and the local A&P store. The Kroger chain came and went in San Antonio, couldn’t compete with our local chain HEB, but to me now it’s the best in the world and I would be lost without it.

    Reply
    1. Kevin

      Boyd, welcome, we have a couple of other Amish Cook fans in San Antonio, nice to have another!:)

      Reply
  31. Jolene Demoret

    I’m glad a couple people mentioned A&W drive-in! I miss that place, the root beer and the root beer floats in a frosty mug! There are a few around, but not in line with the destination. Jolene in KS

    Reply
  32. Bonnie P.

    I remember Service Merchandize, Farrell’s, and HoJos. Didn’t they ring some kind of bell if you ate the whole Trough? I remember ordering it once with three friends. Burger Chef was my first real job after school. Memories!

    Reply
    1. Kevin

      Yep, Bonnie, I think they rang a bell and beat a big round drum, they definitely called attention to one’s gluttony!:)

      Reply
  33. Pam

    I remember Burger Chef and Service Merchandise. I believe Burger Chef was the first fast food place in our town so it was pretty popular. Do you remember Tastee Freeze? They had good ice cream and a sandwich similar to a Big Mac but wrapped in pretty colored foil. Loved that!! I still have my Tasty Dog puppet from there!

    Reply
  34. clk

    Service M was my favorite!
    I remember going to Bill Knapps for a lunch stop when we would travel to Michigan …
    very good steaks…
    yes, we lost A&P stores…..and also Kroger’s …there is a Kroger’s store in Plymouth, Indiana… 2 hour drive east from here…I believe in South Bend, Indiana too…we have a Food 4 Less… which is own by Kroger’s ….

    Reply
  35. Joe Goodwin

    We had Service Merchandise and Burger Chef in Huntsville, Alabama, at least until the early 1980s. In Muncie, Indiana, we had both Burger Chef and Zayer into the mid-1980s. We didn’t have Arthur Treacher’s in Huntsville, but I remember seeing one in Washington, D.C., in 1987 or 1988.

    Reply
  36. Joe Goodwin

    P.S.: We had HoJo’s in Huntsville, and there was one in Bloomington, Indiana, until 1982 or later. Besides 30+ flavors of ice cream they had great fried clams!

    Reply
  37. BobJ

    A lot of great old memories on this site! I remember quite a few of the stores, shops, and restaurants/fast food places from my younger days. I like the site and the comments make me feel like I should know some of the folks on here. I still love A & W Root beer and floats. We still have a couple A & W’s here in Las Vegas. Last time I was back east or midwest was in 2003 to Melvin, Iowa for my wife’s reunion. Other than that trip, I was stationed in Wichita, Ks and Presque Isle, Me.

    Reply
  38. Alva

    A Farrell’s ice cream parlor recently re-opened in Sacramento, CA

    Reply
  39. Carol

    After cruising Broadway on Saturday night we enjoyed Hasty Tasty or Frisches , both had car hops to take your order..

    Reply
  40. Vicky

    Farrell’s has made a comeback here on the west coast, BUT, it’s not the same. The ambiance and prices are not up to par. Of course nothing is as good as it used to be

    Reply
    1. Kevin

      SIGH, you really can’t go home again….

      Reply
  41. dee

    remember all but one and thats Burger Chef. I worked at the Zayres back home in Wheaton, Md. Those where the days of cash, checks and sometimes a credit card. They were kinda in competition with Kmart. In Maryland we also had a Roy Rogers(fast food burger joint) and a Mighty Mo. Miss those places!!

    Reply
    1. Kevin

      Thanks for the comment, Dee…man, I miss Zayre..it later became Ames, I think? SIGH, those were the days…

      Reply
  42. Maggie

    Was there ever a Rink’s, near Deerfield, Ohio. I think that is the store my husband has been trying to remember the name for a while now. Before I close this , just want to say hows

    Reply
    1. Kevin

      I think there was Maggie, But I am not certain

      Reply

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