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Going out for breakfast? In my town? In 1963? NO!

Going out for breakfast? In my town? In 1963? NO!
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  • Going out for breakfast? In my town? In 1963? NO!

    Post #1 - January 24th, 2018, 6:24 pm
    Post #1 - January 24th, 2018, 6:24 pm Post #1 - January 24th, 2018, 6:24 pm
    Howdy,

    Recently on our Facebook page dedicated to the little group of northwest suburban Chicago towns we grew up in (think Roselle, Bloomingdale, Itasca), a discussion took place concerning places to eat breakfast, several decades ago- when this little area was just farm villages turning into bedroom suburbs. In short, there were zero places serving breakfast. Only taverns, serving lunch and dinner. Restaurants serving breakfast- actual places with menus not covered in spilled beer stains- did not arrive out that way until about 1965 or so.

    Why? Did people not eat breakfast in 1960?

    The general consensus is that breakfast was strictly a home thing back then. Only the wealthy (very few out in our neck of the woods then), who would have to drive some distance for a breakfast in a fancy sit down restaurant in a place like Wheaton or Barrington- or travelers staying in downtown Chicago hotels- or night shift workers in Chicago getting off the job in the morning and stopping to eat bacon and eggs at a 24 hour diner- ate breakfast outside of the home. Not one out of several respondents now in their late 50's to early 70's, could remember ever going out for breakfast with their families- unless they were out on the road, on vacation. For the oldest in our group, only upon reaching an age where we could legally drive a car, did we discover that we could eat pancakes in a place, served by waitresses. Miles away from home. The rest of us had breakfast places in our towns by 1970- but only a very few. It's better out there today of course- one can eat breakfast at many locations in that area.

    Were we simply out of the loop back then, so to speak? Too undeveloped to attract a breakfast crowd? Or was it something else?

    My belief is that breakfast was strictly a home thing for the vast majority of Americans until maybe the 1970's, because women then were mostly home to make sausage and eggs over easy, men mostly stayed married to their wives and ate whatever was thrown in front of them at 7am, and kids ate cereal- which was easy to serve. There was little interest (or spare cash, or time) for eating out in the morning. Even on weekends.

    Look at the fact that in the supermarkets and little town grocery stores in the 1950's and 60's, there were practically no frozen breakfast "TV dinners", so to speak. Maybe none, in fact. And even fast food places, the newfangled way the kids dined out then, only served after 11am by and large. Even McDonald's didn't start serving the Egg McMuffin until what, the early 70's?

    Have I made a case here that American breakfast culture evolved beginning in the 1970's? Or am I way off?
  • Post #2 - January 24th, 2018, 8:29 pm
    Post #2 - January 24th, 2018, 8:29 pm Post #2 - January 24th, 2018, 8:29 pm
    I've always been mystified as to why people in other countries think Americans traditionally eat big breakfasts.

    When I was a kid (in Lake County in the '60s), breakfast at a pancake place was an occasional (once every few months) treat after church. What was the name of that pancake place on Lake-Cook, near where Shaw's Blue Crab later was? The Pancake House? We kids were fascinated by the five or so different syrup bottles on the table. I always picked boysenberry. (Where have all the boysenberries gone, long time passing ...)

    Even at home, pancakes and scrambled eggs and such were occasional Sunday treats. Every other day, breakfast was oatmeal in the winter or cereal in the summer (to this day I still can't stand Quaker instant oatmeal or Kellogg's corn flakes), none of all this eggs and bacon and juice and toast stuff. Breakfast away from home only happened on family trips. And so my dad's fondness for biscuits and gravy was only satisfied a couple of times a year.

    I wonder when IHOP started in business and when similar businesses (e.g., Howard Johnson's?) started trying to draw breakfast crowds.
    "Your swimming suit matches your eyes, you hold your nose before diving, loving you has made me bananas!"
  • Post #3 - January 24th, 2018, 8:32 pm
    Post #3 - January 24th, 2018, 8:32 pm Post #3 - January 24th, 2018, 8:32 pm
    You can look at movies from the 30’s and 40’s to see business folks grabbing toast and coffee in diners.

    Waffle House was founded in 1955. IHOP was founded in 1958. Huddle House in 1964. Cracker Barrel was founded in 1969.

    So perhaps in farm towns there were no diners because there were not businesses or factories with shifts to serve as customers. but definitely there were diners in the south and in large cities that flourished before the 70’s.

    It’s also an American myth that women were not working outside of the home. This tended to be true only for middle-class and upper middle class families.

    Many women worked outside of the home as teachers, secretaries, nurses, stenographers, seamstresses, and housekeepers/cleaners all over the country.
    Ava-"If you get down and out, just get in the kitchen and bake a cake."- Jean Strickland

    Horto In Urbs- Falling in love with Urban Vegetable Gardening
  • Post #4 - January 25th, 2018, 8:20 am
    Post #4 - January 25th, 2018, 8:20 am Post #4 - January 25th, 2018, 8:20 am
    Hey Adipocere,

    I grew up in Roselle. I'm at the young side of the age group you're talking about. I don't remember going out for breakfast with the family (except on vacation) until probably about 1970. That was a pretty rare after church treat. Can't remember the name of the place, but it was on Irving Park by the "new" train station. (I remember when it was a bit west of the current location.)

    It was more common for my dad to pick up sweet rolls or a coffee cake and some potato bread from the bakery. I think it was a couple of doors down from the place we'd go for breakfast. I'll have to ask my parents about that.
  • Post #5 - January 25th, 2018, 8:32 am
    Post #5 - January 25th, 2018, 8:32 am Post #5 - January 25th, 2018, 8:32 am
    Katie wrote:When I was a kid (in Lake County in the '60s), breakfast at a pancake place was an occasional (once every few months) treat after church. What was the name of that pancake place on Lake-Cook, near where Shaw's Blue Crab later was?

    I think it was Golden Bear -- but that was much closer to Waukegan.

    My earliest dining out memories are Skokie, some of which were after we moved away but my grandmother was still on the same block. IHOP on Skokie Blvd. was more of a brunch/lunch on a weekend, with Walker Brothers on Green Bay for *very* special occasions, and never before 10:30AM, I think. Same for Desiree (lost, lamented at Niles Center and Oakton), and the pancake place on Oakton between Niles and Skokie Blvd which I think is still there, but I can't be certain it's kept the same name.
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang
  • Post #6 - January 25th, 2018, 8:41 am
    Post #6 - January 25th, 2018, 8:41 am Post #6 - January 25th, 2018, 8:41 am
    knitgirl wrote:Hey Adipocere,

    I grew up in Roselle. I'm at the young side of the age group you're talking about. I don't remember going out for breakfast with the family (except on vacation) until probably about 1970. That was a pretty rare after church treat. Can't remember the name of the place, but it was on Irving Park by the "new" train station. (I remember when it was a bit west of the current location.)

    It was more common for my dad to pick up sweet rolls or a coffee cake and some potato bread from the bakery. I think it was a couple of doors down from the place we'd go for breakfast. I'll have to ask my parents about that.


    Hello fellow Rosellian!

    The place you're thinking of was Piper's, which has since changed hands and names several times. But it's still open! The bakery was (I think) named Liechter's, which had fantastic pecan rolls. Both it and the small independent Pik-Kwik supermarket next door are gone now. Sadly. I remember my mom buying really well marbled aged rib eye steaks- prime if I recall correctly- from Pik-Kwik in the 70's. Melt in your mouth quality!
  • Post #7 - January 25th, 2018, 1:10 pm
    Post #7 - January 25th, 2018, 1:10 pm Post #7 - January 25th, 2018, 1:10 pm
    According to http://philadelphiaencyclopedia.org/archive/diners/ the first known business to serve the night-lunch business - shift workers who couldn't find anywhere to eat after 8pm was in Rhode Island in 1870 - they parked a wagon in front of the newspaper offices. This concept spread around the country. Eventually the wagon businesses put up stationary restaurants.

    They also say that after the post-war boom, by the '70s a lot of diners had closed due to owner retirement, but also because they seemed quite worn and couldn't compete with national chains, fast food and mall food courts.
    Leek

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  • Post #8 - January 25th, 2018, 4:52 pm
    Post #8 - January 25th, 2018, 4:52 pm Post #8 - January 25th, 2018, 4:52 pm
    The Original Pancake House chain started in the early 50's and Walker Brothers has been around since 1960 or so. The Edgebrook Coffee Shop has been open since the late 50's. Breakfast restaurants have been around forever. I'd agree that in more rural areas they were more of an oddity, but certainly not for urban dwellers. I'm pretty sure "lunch counters" at Walgreen's and Woolworth's were also serving breakfast decades before the 60's.
  • Post #9 - January 25th, 2018, 8:57 pm
    Post #9 - January 25th, 2018, 8:57 pm Post #9 - January 25th, 2018, 8:57 pm
    I understood (possibly incorrectly) the question to be not when working individuals, urban or rural, started eating breakfast in diners but rather when families, parents and kids, started going out together to eat breakfast away from the home. Like the original poster, this seems to me to have been, at least in the Chicago area, a phenomenon of the late 60s and early 70s.
    Last edited by Katie on January 27th, 2018, 8:28 am, edited 1 time in total.
    "Your swimming suit matches your eyes, you hold your nose before diving, loving you has made me bananas!"
  • Post #10 - January 25th, 2018, 10:42 pm
    Post #10 - January 25th, 2018, 10:42 pm Post #10 - January 25th, 2018, 10:42 pm
    I can't speak about your town BUT there were a lot of restaurants that were open for breakfast in the 1960s for breakfast. I know that my uncle would always stop for breakfast before heading to work as my aunt was always a late riser. In addition, he joined a number of coworkers.

    Also, my father would stop for breakfast and a beer at 7:30 am when he got off of work.
  • Post #11 - January 26th, 2018, 7:10 am
    Post #11 - January 26th, 2018, 7:10 am Post #11 - January 26th, 2018, 7:10 am
    adipocere wrote:

    Hello fellow Rosellian!

    The place you're thinking of was Piper's, which has since changed hands and names several times. But it's still open! The bakery was (I think) named Liechter's, which had fantastic pecan rolls. Both it and the small independent Pik-Kwik supermarket next door are gone now. Sadly. I remember my mom buying really well marbled aged rib eye steaks- prime if I recall correctly- from Pik-Kwik in the 70's. Melt in your mouth quality!


    Thank you! Yep, those were the places. My mom was really sad that Pik-Kwik closed. It was her mainstay.
  • Post #12 - January 26th, 2018, 5:59 pm
    Post #12 - January 26th, 2018, 5:59 pm Post #12 - January 26th, 2018, 5:59 pm
    Katie wrote:I understood (possibly incorrectly) the question to be not when working individuals, urban or rural, start eating breakfast in diners but rather when families, parents and kids, started going out together to eat breakfast away from the home. Like the original poster, this seems to me to have been, at least in the Chicago area, a phenomenon of the late 60s and early 70s.


    I agree. And you understood correctly. Roselle wasn't (and isn't) Skokie or Oak Park. It's still a different culture in most of DuPage County in many ways, as far as I can see.
  • Post #13 - January 26th, 2018, 6:13 pm
    Post #13 - January 26th, 2018, 6:13 pm Post #13 - January 26th, 2018, 6:13 pm
    I lived in New Jersey during the first part of my childhood, and diners were ubiquitous.
  • Post #14 - January 26th, 2018, 10:49 pm
    Post #14 - January 26th, 2018, 10:49 pm Post #14 - January 26th, 2018, 10:49 pm
    chgoeditor wrote:I lived in New Jersey during the first part of my childhood, and diners were ubiquitous.


    Looks like the OP intended for it to be something different than we interpreted it. Specifically, the OP was not pondering the existence of grown-ups eating breakfast in diners but families with children eating breakfast outside of the home and perhaps the particular geography mentioned as well.—LLAP
    Ava-"If you get down and out, just get in the kitchen and bake a cake."- Jean Strickland

    Horto In Urbs- Falling in love with Urban Vegetable Gardening
  • Post #15 - January 27th, 2018, 10:22 am
    Post #15 - January 27th, 2018, 10:22 am Post #15 - January 27th, 2018, 10:22 am
    pairs4life wrote:
    chgoeditor wrote:I lived in New Jersey during the first part of my childhood, and diners were ubiquitous.


    Looks like the OP intended for it to be something different than we interpreted it. Specifically, the OP was not pondering the existence of grown-ups eating breakfast in diners but families with children eating breakfast outside of the home and perhaps the particular geography mentioned as well.—LLAP


    Essentially you are correct- however, in the case of the area I grew up in, there were numerous business opportunities for someone to open up a restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, before the year it happened- 1968 (Rose Restaurant on Irving Park Road in Roselle- long closed and torn down). Once again, and I do think it was due to perhaps unique cultural issues in what was then considered the "far-northwest Chicago suburbs", 25 miles west/northwest of the Loop.

    Roselle, Bloomingdale and Itasca were for many decades farming communities, and nearly all business in these towns were owned by families who had owned them in some cases for nearly 100 years. These three towns were dragged into becoming "bedroom suburbs" kicking and screaming. Every developer of a subdivision or a tiny strip mall faced opposition from these founding families and their allies. Mayors and village trustees lost elections over allowing "progress" to happen. Only because other towns like Schaumburg, Hanover Park and Carol Stream- often started or at least co-opted by big developers- began annexing farmland and filling it in with housing tracts, shopping malls, and industrial parks- did my little area react.

    However, it's still clear that there was little or no demand for local families to go out for breakfast. We never did, and as I said in the initial post, nobody else in the Facebook group for our hometowns did either. Maybe we all watched too many episodes of 'Leave It To Beaver'- the Cleavers never went out for breakfast, either.
  • Post #16 - January 27th, 2018, 9:10 pm
    Post #16 - January 27th, 2018, 9:10 pm Post #16 - January 27th, 2018, 9:10 pm
    jlawrence01 wrote:I can't speak about your town BUT there were a lot of restaurants that were open for breakfast in the 1960s for breakfast. I know that my uncle would always stop for breakfast before heading to work as my aunt was always a late riser. In addition, he joined a number of coworkers.

    Also, my father would stop for breakfast and a beer at 7:30 am when he got off of work.


    Well I just checked out a little fact about one of our towns out here, Bloomingdale. It's village hall did not get indoor plumbing until 1954.

    And some are surprised we had no diners out that way? #Hooterville
  • Post #17 - January 29th, 2018, 8:32 am
    Post #17 - January 29th, 2018, 8:32 am Post #17 - January 29th, 2018, 8:32 am
    adipocere wrote:
    pairs4life wrote:
    chgoeditor wrote:I lived in New Jersey during the first part of my childhood, and diners were ubiquitous.


    Looks like the OP intended for it to be something different than we interpreted it. Specifically, the OP was not pondering the existence of grown-ups eating breakfast in diners but families with children eating breakfast outside of the home and perhaps the particular geography mentioned as well.—LLAP


    Essentially you are correct- however, in the case of the area I grew up in, there were numerous business opportunities for someone to open up a restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, before the year it happened- 1968 (Rose Restaurant on Irving Park Road in Roselle- long closed and torn down). Once again, and I do think it was due to perhaps unique cultural issues in what was then considered the "far-northwest Chicago suburbs", 25 miles west/northwest of the Loop.

    Roselle, Bloomingdale and Itasca were for many decades farming communities, and nearly all business in these towns were owned by families who had owned them in some cases for nearly 100 years. These three towns were dragged into becoming "bedroom suburbs" kicking and screaming. Every developer of a subdivision or a tiny strip mall faced opposition from these founding families and their allies. Mayors and village trustees lost elections over allowing "progress" to happen. Only because other towns like Schaumburg, Hanover Park and Carol Stream- often started or at least co-opted by big developers- began annexing farmland and filling it in with housing tracts, shopping malls, and industrial parks- did my little area react.

    However, it's still clear that there was little or no demand for local families to go out for breakfast. We never did, and as I said in the initial post, nobody else in the Facebook group for our hometowns did either. Maybe we all watched too many episodes of 'Leave It To Beaver'- the Cleavers never went out for breakfast, either.


    My breakfast memories were limited to IHOP in the 60's, mostly a function of my immigrant parents not being especially savvy to dining out and more reluctant to visit an unknown diner as opposed to a well-advertised chain (no LTH back then). My exceptionally frugal father was not a big restaurant guy but did have certain favorites and we did IHOP about once a month. (My most recent IHOP experience was sometime in the early '80's and put me off the chain for life).
  • Post #18 - January 30th, 2018, 7:49 am
    Post #18 - January 30th, 2018, 7:49 am Post #18 - January 30th, 2018, 7:49 am
    Hi,

    I cannot recall my parents taking us out for breakfast, unless we were out of town.

    Even then, they would buy those individual cereal packages, cut down the middle and pour the milk in. This was exotic dining and a real treat for my sisters and I. Our cereal selections at home were Kellogg's Corn Flakes or Rice Krispies. Fruit Loops and Raisin Bran in a motel room was just so cool.

    My Mother's parents regularly went out for breakfast or lunch or dinner at the Harris on Irving Park. I do not recall my Dad's Mom going out for breakfast.

    Regards,
    Cathy2
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
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  • Post #19 - January 30th, 2018, 9:56 am
    Post #19 - January 30th, 2018, 9:56 am Post #19 - January 30th, 2018, 9:56 am
    Cathy2 wrote:
    the Harris on Irving Park


    R.I.P. - Man, I miss that place!
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #20 - February 2nd, 2018, 2:53 pm
    Post #20 - February 2nd, 2018, 2:53 pm Post #20 - February 2nd, 2018, 2:53 pm
    My family lived on the South Side (71st and Princeton) from '51-'53. My mom was quite exploratory, so we ate out fairly frequently, and exotically (Italian, Chinese, Swedish smorgasbord, etc.) for a family called up to Chicago from Ft. Collins CO. But we most certainly never went out for breakfast. However, when we travelled--which we did every Summer, and for 3-4 days at a time--we *always* gloried in getting on the road at 05hours, and then a couple hours later finding a hotel coffee shop (invariably where we stopped) where my folks could indulge in bacon and eggs, and I in pancakes.

    We returned to Ft. Collins after my dad got off active duty, moved to Seattle for a couple of years, and then finally settled in Sacramento. I have no memories at all of going out for breakfast, altho' by the time I started high school in Sacto there were a couple of places (Sambo's, IHOP, etc.) where it had become fashionable/feasible to breakfast out. But we didn't.

    I think it just wasn't in our middle-class, non-East Coast, culture to do so.

    Geo
    Sooo, you like wine and are looking for something good to read? Maybe *this* will do the trick! :)
  • Post #21 - February 3rd, 2018, 8:49 am
    Post #21 - February 3rd, 2018, 8:49 am Post #21 - February 3rd, 2018, 8:49 am
    I have vague recollections from my very young childhood of Mickelberry's Log Cabin on 95th St. being jammed packed for breakfast. Can still recall the smell the pancakes and syrup. Would have been in the early 1960's.
  • Post #22 - February 3rd, 2018, 11:37 am
    Post #22 - February 3rd, 2018, 11:37 am Post #22 - February 3rd, 2018, 11:37 am
    JoelF wrote:
    Katie wrote:When I was a kid (in Lake County in the '60s), breakfast at a pancake place was an occasional (once every few months) treat after church. What was the name of that pancake place on Lake-Cook, near where Shaw's Blue Crab later was?

    I think it was Golden Bear -- but that was much closer to Waukegan.

    My earliest dining out memories are Skokie, some of which were after we moved away but my grandmother was still on the same block. IHOP on Skokie Blvd. was more of a brunch/lunch on a weekend, with Walker Brothers on Green Bay for *very* special occasions, and never before 10:30AM, I think. Same for Desiree (lost, lamented at Niles Center and Oakton), and the pancake place on Oakton between Niles and Skokie Blvd which I think is still there, but I can't be certain it's kept the same name.


    There were absolutely no shortage of places for breakfast growing up in our old stomping grounds, Joel. The pancake place in downtown Skokie on Oakton was called Country Cousins, now Annie's Pancake House. Down the street at Oakton & Babb was Pan-Inn, which was a corner Greek-owned diner. Just north of Oakton on Skokie Blvd. was Karl's Cafe. East on Oakton near the CTA yards was Sparky's. Up on Main near Crawford was the Noshery. Then up on Dempster just north of Evanston Golf Club was Aunt Jemima's turned Gold Coin turned Barnum & Bagel. Finally, south towards Lincolnwood on Touhy was the immortal Jack's Restaurant.

    All knew how to do a mean bacon & eggs...

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