When I was a kid some of my best memories are of those rare occasions when we would get to go to a restaurant and grab some grub. Not much has changed now that I am an adult cause I still love the grub. It does however, make me pretty sad reminiscing about some of the restaurants that I can’t eat at anymore. Thought I would share and see what you think
My dad used to work for an old style pizza place in Indianapolis called Shakey’s Pizza. When my mom would drive to pick him up I would tag along and roam around the empty store while he closed the place down. I have few memories of that place but the ones I have are pretty cool. It had the first game room I ever saw it had a wild sand pit type game where you controlled some bulldozers in some sand for a quarter. There was also an old style film projector that my dad would pull down from the ceiling some nights and I would watch giant spider movies while we waited. Shakey’s is still “shakin” its just no where in TN or Indianapolis.
As child we lived in an apartment complex in Indianapolis. Behind the main buildings was a pretty busy roadway and across that there used to be a great burger joint you may remember called Burger Chef. I loved the little kids meals they used to have. I remember it was a real treat when mom would walk my brother and I across that street and grab a snack. Burger Chef was actually founded in Indianapolis where I lived as a young child. Sadly it went the way of the Dodo and the last restaurant owned independently at the time closed down in Cookville Tennessee, which as luck would have it is where I live now.
Shoney’s Big Boy was a super place to get some grub. I VIVIDLY remember this restaurant for many reasons. This was the very first salad bar I can remember eating. It also had SUPER hamburgers. The plastic and metal Big Boy statue out front has to be one of the most recognizable icon /logos EVER. Apparently the guys that owned the Big Boy logo and the guys that owned the Shoney’s name had a falling out and they have now split, so you have a sparse few Big Boy restaurants up north and way too many sad excuses for them called Shoney’s down here. Shoneys I am sad to say is a shadow of its former glory days.
Steak. Steak is to men what mothers milk is to little babes. My very first REAL steak restaurant experience came from a restaurant called Western Sizzlin. It had a great salad bar also but alas nothing lasts. While the chain is still kickin. They no longer have any in middle TN where I live.
The first real smorgasbord type restaurant I ever ate at was a place called Duff’s Smorgasbord. My grandmother loved this place and I can recall that they had some of the BEST fried chicken I have ever to this day had, well cept maybe for Popeye’s. I can’t find much info about this chain other than it faltered and went under a long while back. Seems there is only ONE left in all of the world and its in Pigeon Forge. UPDATE 03/8/2016 It closed now also.
UPDATE 09/17/2017 I figured out that there are still quite a few independent sites still up and serving. They have different names but the spirit of this chain lives on.
Here’s one in Daytona Beach! http://duffsbuffet.com/
Few things in life make me as happy as the memories I have from an 80’s era marriage of the new technology of video games and one of the best foods ever, pizza. Music, video games, and pizza all collided at Showbiz Pizza Place. It breaks my heart to think that the ONLY functional showbiz restaurant left in the world is all the way over in Dubai.
While we are on the subject of pizza I always wondered what happened to a great little pizza place that seemed to vanish from the town where I live called Pizza Inn. Seems the chain is still in great standing BUT the closest one is all the way in Clarksville near the Fort Campbell Army Base. >Cries<
Last but not least, living in the south you would think that I get all the southern food I could ever want. While you may be largely right, I never had as much fun as a kid as when we all went to PoFolks, a southern themed restaurant that served drinks in real mason jars instead of glasses. It had white trash red neck decor on the inside and again i guess I loved it so much because my late grandmother really enjoyed it to. Now the remaining few can only be found in Florida, a long, long drive from TN.
Hope you enjoyed my list. I really enjoyed making it. Never take anything in life for granted cause when you blink, it could be gone. Cheers!