I've posted about this topic before, but it was on the old website, so why not trot out the topic again?:)
The distinctive triangular shape of a long-gone HoJo, like the one pictured, haunts our interstate exit in Middletown, Ohio.
Like a vacant-eyed ghost staring back at a more prosperous past, it eyes passing cars on I-75, remembering the days when it was known for its vast assortment of ice cream flavors and clean hotel rooms. HoJo was the perfect stop for weary travelers on their way to a distant destination, its flaming orange-tiled roof a bright beacon in the night. But times change and so do businesses. They come and go, into our lives and out, and when they close they take a piece of us with them. I wax nostalgic at these businesses that are gone but still occupy a place in my past. There are, by the way, HoJo's still in existence but they are shadows of their former selves, generally run-down, no restaurant, and out-muscled by their better sheet thread-count rivals. Here are some businesses I most miss, in no particular order...some of these may be regional so excuse me if you haven't heard of them:
1) SERVICE MERCHANDISE: When I was a kid I could sit at my grandma's house and spend hours flipping through their catalog. I think a store held on in the west side of Cincinnati into the 1990s, but now the business is on on the web and I don't know how it manages to do even that.
2) RINKS/ZAYRE/HILLS: I lumped these three together because they were all sort of bottom-dwelling discount chains. Rinks was a grocery-store/department store, a Wal-Mart before there was Wal-Mart. They had locations in SW Ohio and I think they were named that because the first Rink's was in an old skating rink. Rink's was the first place I was ever allowed to go by myself. It was within walking distance of my grandmother's, and that first walk to Rink's on my own was my first lurch towards independence as an adult. I think I was 8 or 9-years-old, it was a very different world then. Anyone remember Rink's? Rinks is no more...neither is Zayre, and Hills...ah my Aunt Anna worked the snack bar in Hill's for years in our town, their popcorn was as good as any movie theater's.
3) THE HOT SHOPPE/CAMBRIDGE INN: These were both cafeteria chains...You'd grab your tray, move through the line and order your stuff. Very much like a school cafeteria for adults. It was more sanitary, probably, than the sneeze-guard shielded buffets of today. I just don't think they could compete with the "endless trough" of buffets that began to muscle their way into the restaurant chain world. But I miss these places, both of which I spent plenty of suppers with my grandparents when I was a kid.
4) BURGER CHEF: Your run of the mill fast-food burger joint. But they had locations everywhere, and I consumed plenty of "Super Shef's" when I was a kid.
5) FARRELL'S: This was an old-fashioned ice cream parlor chain which featured waiters and waitresses in pin-striped uniforms and hats and I think a massive sundae called a "zoo?" It was a very festive place, that's for sure.
I could go on, these are just some that come to mind. Do you have any long-gone businesses that occupy a sentimental spot in your heart? If so, what are they?
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).
We had a Carroll's here. I still have the Pepsi glasses they gave out. I liked their burgers better than McDonalds
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.
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.
I remember going to Service Merchandise, and eating at Burger Chef.
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.
Thank you, Jo...I take it was Joseph-Beth?
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!
Ah, Mel, glad someone else remembers those places....gone, but definitely not forgotten...Ah, and Bill Knapps another shuttered classic:(
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.
Ah, the tin roof...loved it!:)
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!
Good memories, nice to see you on here, Beth!
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!!!
Maybe "Bob's Big Boy"?
We bought my engagement ring and our wedding rings at McDades, which was just like Service Merchandise. I loved Chicken Unlimited, maybe a Chicago area chain, they had the worlds best cheeseburgers! Would get one after school several times a week to eat on my way home. Zaire’s was my go to for sewing supplies!
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.
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.
Bill Knaps was awesome! Au gratin potatoes like no other! Win Schuyler’s in Michigan was awesome! Fantastic cheese spread and bar schips (seasoned Melba toast to go with the cheese spread!)
Have not heard of Schuyler's but, yes, Bill Knapp's was amazing...I still miss them, yes, the augratins were amazing,,,thanks for reminding me of them!
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.
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.
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.
I remember Bonanza!!
Me too...that brings back some memories...I think there was one downtown in my hometown...
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
Welcome Lisa, and - SIGH - you just brought back some good food memories!
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 🙁
Ah, good to see you on here, Jessica, I've missed you!
Ugh...that should have said the *thing* I miss most.
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!!!
I remember BURGER CHEF & SERVICE MERCHANDISE, but none of the others......burger chef had great hamburgers too.....wonder what happened ????
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.
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.
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......
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.
I also miss the A & P grocery store!
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!
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. 🙁
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!
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...
A couple more things that I enjoyed growing up in small town Mid-America.
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.
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.
Linda, good to hear from a News-Tribune reader...we miss our Tacoma readers, but welcome to you here!
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.
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.
Boyd, welcome, we have a couple of other Amish Cook fans in San Antonio, nice to have another!:)
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
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!
Yep, Bonnie, I think they rang a bell and beat a big round drum, they definitely called attention to one's gluttony!:)
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!
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 ....
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.
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!
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.
A Farrell's ice cream parlor recently re-opened in Sacramento, CA
After cruising Broadway on Saturday night we enjoyed Hasty Tasty or Frisches , both had car hops to take your order..
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
SIGH, you really can't go home again....
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!!
Thanks for the comment, Dee...man, I miss Zayre..it later became Ames, I think? SIGH, those were the days...
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
I think there was Maggie, But I am not certain
I meet my Dear husband at Zayres, He was a manager at the time and I was hired to work in the one of the depts. he was managing at the time. We got married 3 years after I started and went to work for Kmart. Because manager were not allowed to date the help, unless you were the store manager, but that's a whole other story back then in the 70's. I should say I got him at Zayres and were still married.
Thanks for sharing, Christine, neat to hear that in some way the Zayre legacy lives on at least through your marriage!
Does anyone remember J.J. Newberrys? I used to sit at the soda fountain and have a cherry coke -- we were soooo cool! LOL
Ah, Cherry Cokes at Newberry's....a nice slice of nostalgia!