Burger Queen

Harold and Helen Kite opened the very first Burger Queen in Winter Haven, Florida in 1956. The next few years saw growth of several more locations throughout Florida, In 1961, James Gannon along with his business partners John and George Clark bought the franchise rights and expanded in to Kentucky.

Louisville was the home of the first Bluegrass state location and would ultimately become the corporate home of the company.

Burger Queen postcard with the following on the verso:
FREE
You’re in store for a new taste treat! This card entitles you to a Cheeseburger, served on a toasted bun, piping hot, right off the grill. The BURGER QUEEN awaits your visit, with good food, thrifty prices, and sparkling service. Present this card at any time.
Limit – 2 Cards per Family
At Your Nearest Burger Queen

April 1969 saw the opening a franchise at 460-462 Main Street in Danville, Kentucky, and, due to the fact that the Danville papers are easily searchable, the majority of the information I was able to find came from this location.

The Advocate-Messenger – April 24, 1969

The Danville Burger Queen was a big hit from the jump. This little blurb was posted two weeks after the opening in Danville in The Advocate-Messenger on April 27, 1969:

BURGERS ARE SELLING FAST IN DANVILLE!
Over 1,000 hamburgers, though the count really can’t be estimated, have been served at the Burger Queen Restaurant since its opening at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, according to a report Friday from John Bowling, manager-owner of the new establishment.
The eating place, located at 462 Main Street in Danville, caters to a great many high school and college students in the area, as well as to those who work in downtown Danville. during . the day. Hamburgers are not their only business,” as many other items, designed to appeal to all age groups, are offered.
The doors are opened seven days a week at 8 a.m., and coffee and turnovers are served until the grill opens are 10 a.m. Closing time is 1 1 p.m. on weekdays and midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.
The large sign in front of the building will be available for as much advertising as is possible for non-profit organizations, such as women’s clubs and church groups. Any group wishing to have an announcement displayed is asked to contact Bowling at 236-8371.
A native of Nelson County, Bowling has lived in Louisville for the past 15 years. His wife, who is still in Louisville at the present time, will join him here later. Aside from all business matters, Bowling has expressed a desire to thank the people of Danville for the All-America welcome they have given him here.

More locations popped up around Kentucky throughout the year.

The Corbin Times-Tribune – December 12, 1969

In 1970, American Dairy Queen, Inc., operators of Dairy Queen, filed suit against Burger Queen for infringing on 14 of Dairy Queen’s trademarks by using the word “Queen” in it signs and advertising. The chain would continue on undeterred.

The suit asked the court to restrain Burger Queen from further use of the word “Queen”, and asked that all advertising containing the word be destroyed and to pay damages for the trademark infringement. Burger Queen would continue to fight the lawsuit throughout the 70s.

The Advocate-Messenger – June 16, 1971

1971 saw the birth of a new mascot for the company, Queenie Bee. The smiling bee with a little crown would be used prominently throughout the decade in print and on items in the restaurant.

The Advocate Messenger – December 02, 1971
Picture of Queenie Bee in costume from the Druther’s twitter page

By the end of the decade the business was in dire straits. Poor business practices and over-expansion caused extreme financial stress. As reported to The Courier-Journal in Louisville on March 21, 1982:

As many business managers know all too well, reporting a profit doesn’t necessarily mean a firm is healthy.
Druther’s reported profits in recent years. But in the process, it was spending more than it took in. “Since 1976,” (CEO Thomas L.) Hensley says, “this company has been in a negative cash position every year.” To make up the difference between cash revenues and expenditures, the company borrowed increasing amounts of money:

Year Net income Net new debt
1977 $581,000 $970,000
1978 $335,000 $2,279,000
1979 $1,061,000 $1,000,000
1980 $98,000 $1,867,000

Bankruptcy loomed. Things had to change

The following article ran on February 15, 1981 in The Advocate-Messenger:

Burger Queen to change name to Druther’s
By JOHN T. DAVIS

What’s in a name? A whole lot if you own a Burger Queen restaurant and you’ve spent a million dollars for advertising, charitable contributions and other promotional activities to establish the name ‘Burger Queen” as a benevolent force in the community.
So when the owners of the two Burger Queen restaurants in Danville were told by Burger Queen headquarters in Louisville that the franchise chain was going to change its name to “Druther’s,” the Danville owners John Hancock, Alan Burns and John Bowling thought the matter over very seriously.
“We realized we’d spent an enormous amount of money to get the name established in Danville and to be a part of the community.” Burns said.
But the planners in headquarters believed that the restaurant needed a new name for the 1980s, a name that would reflect the family atmosphere and diverse menu of the restaurants and wouldn’t limit them to the “burger” image.
“It’s hard to sell fish or a salad bar out of a place with burger’ in the name,” Burns said. “Druther’s doesn’t mean anything. People just come in a see what you’ve got.”
When the first Burger Queen opened in Danville in 1969, the name was appropriate because “burgers” were the mainstay of the restaurant’s menu Since then, however, the menu has expanded to include chicken, “taters,” a complete breakfast line, batter-dipped fish, salad bar, soup, chili and other items.
“The name, ‘Burger Queen,’ was real good in 1969 because it told you just about what we had burgers,” Burn said. “But it doesn’t accurately convey that whole menu now.”
THE NAME. “Druther’s,” was recommended to Burger Queen by the New York consulting firm, Lippincott-Margulies, the same company that told Humble Oil Company to change its name to EXXON.
Teresa Jennings, advertising manager of Burger Queen, said the company wanted a new name that would not limit its ability to expand the menu. It also wanted a name that did not actually mean anything to the customer, she said.
The only thing Druther’s comes close to meaning is a preference for something, Ms. Jennings said, as in “If I had my d’ruthers.”
Extensive surveying was done, outside of the Burger Queen sales area, to determine public response to the new name, Ms. Jennings said. “We wanted a name we could build an image around,” she said, “somewhere between fast-service and sit-down, between McDonald’s and Sambo’s. We’re just upgrading the restaurant’s image. We’re not changing the style of the restaurants.”
ALTHOUGH THE CHANGE will take place in early June and will include new uniforms, new paper products, new signs and a new logo, the owners of the Danville restaurants want to emphasize that the changes will stop there.
“Nothing else is going to change,” Burns said. “The same three local people own it and continue to run it. The same people will continue to work here. The same people who have been concerned about community involvement, community service will still be here.”
And those long-standing, faithful customers of the Danville restaurants may continue to eat at “Burger Queen,” Burns said. “To some people we will always be Burger Queen,” he said. “But with our new customers, the name won’t limit us.”
REACTION TO THE CHANGE from operators of three other Burger Queen restaurants in this area varied from enthusiasm to skepticism. Jo Abbott, manager of the Burger Queen in Lancaster, said she believes the change to Druther’s will draw in new customers.
“The name, at first, didn’t ring a bell,” she said, “but after I went to all the meetings and they explained everything I realized it would give us something different. Now, I just can’t wait.”
Ms. Abbott said she is on the committee that is selecting the company’s new uniforms and she believes they will “go over really well.”
Larry Kelly, owner-operator of the Stanford Burger Queen, is not so enthusiastic. “It’s going to cost a lot, and I just hate to see it,” he said.
Kelly said 98 percent of the his restaurant’s customers are local people, and they know what Burger Queen has to offer. “I could sit here today and tell you the name of every local customer who comes in here,” Kelly said. But even Kelly admits that the Burger Queen headquarters may be on the right track and the name change “might go over ”
“The company has got more invested than us franchises,” he added. “They should know what’s going on. ” Michael Hatfield, manager of the Liberty Burger Queen, had similar reservations about the change “We don’t like it, not in the least,” Hatfield said. “We feel it will be a mistake.
“It’s out of our hands,” he added. “But if It does what they say it will, it will help us get away from the ‘burger’ image.”
Ms. Jennings said, generally, the reaction from franchise owners has been good, and all the plans for the name change will be presented at a chain-wide meeting in Florida in March. She is convinced the change will help the local operators.
“We think it’s to his advantage,” she said. “It’s building his image. If he wants to advertise fish and chicken, it will help not have the burger image.”

The change of name also brought a change in mascots. Queenie Bee was replaced by a folk-singer named Andy Dandytale.

Andy Dandytale

At the time of the name change there were 171 Burger Queen/Druther’s locations. The rebranding nearly bankrupted the company, as well. Continuing the earlier report from The Courier-Journal,

There were some legal reasons for wanting a name that couldn’t be confused with other restaurants. But a stronger reason was that hamburgers represented less than 25 percent of the chain’s business when the name change was announced.
“There was too much emphasis on burgers” in the old name, Hensley says. “We knew we had to be able to pay for that name change” in 1981. Operations were holding up well as the year got under way and the final go-ahead on changing over Burger Queen units to Druther’s was made near the end of March.

In September 1990, Druther’s International Inc. became an operator for Dairy Queen and converted most of its then 145 restaurants to Dairy Queens. The company is still active.

KTLA Channel 5 Slides

For a brief period in 2012, KTLA channel 5 Los Angeles posted many of their old slides from their archives to Flickr. The majority of the archive is from the late 70s to mid-80s.

I thought it would be fun to share some of the treasures. This may end up being several posts, but here are a dozen advertising their own channel

:20 Minute Workout
Heat
Cool
Gas Hog
KTLA
Mexican Independence Day Parade
KTLA Sports Presentation
Cinema 5
High Noon Movie
Saturday Night at the Movies
Family Film Festival
KTLA Los Angeles 5

Welcome to Mars, Pennsylvania

Welcome to Mars - Mars, Pennsylvania

MARTIANS
Costumes used by the British Broadcasting Company in the filming of the Vikings trip to Planet Mars in 1976. The pictures were taken in Mars, Pennsylvania.

I was unable to find the 1976 BBC segment about the Vikings’ mission to Mars, but I did find another informative piece from the same year about the mission and the landing on July 20, 1976.

Chefs by the Dozen

Restaurants are often justifiably proud of their food and these twelve postcards showcase food and a chef standing near their creations.

  1. The Bakery Restaurant – Chicago, Illinois
The Bakery Restaurant - Chicago, Illinois

2. Diplomat Restaurant and Country Club – Hollywood-By-The-Sea, Florida

Diplomat Resort and Country Club - Hollywood-By-The-Sea, Florida

3. Silver Slipper Chuck Wagon – Las Vegas, Nevada

Silver Slipper Chuck Wagon - Las Vegas, Nevada

4. The Lord Fox – Foxboro, Massachusetts

The Lord Fox - Foxboro, Massachusetts

5. Severance Lodge – Centre Lovell, Maine

Severance Lodge - Centre Lovell, Maine

6. Passport Restaurant at the Holiday Inn – Ardmore, Oklahoma

Holiday Inn - Ardmore, Oklahoma

7. Polynesian Room at the Sheraton-Yankee Clipper – Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Polynesian Room at the Sheraton-Yankee Clipper - Fort Lauderdale, Florida

8. Clift Hotel – San Francisco, California

Clift Hotel - San Francisco, California

9. Hotel Bethlehem – Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

Hotel Bethlehem - Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

10. Candlelight Buffet at the Secor Hotel – Toledo, Ohio

Secor Hotel - Toledo, Ohio

11. Alpen-Haus – Kingston, Ontario

Alpen-Haus - Kingston, Ontario

12. Lakewood Terrace and Motor Inn – Tacoma, Washington

Lakewood Terrace and Motor Inn - Tacoma, Washington

Ella’s Deli and Ice Cream Parlor – Madison, Wisconsin

Ella's Deli & Ice Cream Parlor - Madison, Wisconsin

The following appeared on the Ella’s Deli’s website in January 2018:

It is with sad hearts that we announce that Ella’s Deli will be closing at our current location. It has been our privilege to be a part of the Madison community for 42 years.
Ella’s has always been about people and we are so very grateful to all our customers and employees. To the many families that have visited us, including over multiple generations, we have enjoyed getting to know you and meeting your children and then your children’s children. To the thousands of amazing former and current employees we have had over the years, your dedication has made Ella’s the award winning destination it is today. Our goal is to continue the Ella’s tradition. It is our hope that Ella’s will be back under new ownership, in a new space, and with a new and exciting direction.
We hope you can visit us, say hi, and enjoy your favorites one last time. Our last day of business will be around January 21, 2018. We may modify our hours to accommodate our employees. We will update on our Facebook page with changes as we make them.
Thank you again for allowing us to be a part of this community by including us in so many moments in your lives, from celebrating birthdays, to first dates, to just enjoying family dinners. We are forever grateful for your support.

Ella Fodiman Hirschfeld was born on February 28, 1914 in Russia and came to America as an infant. She grew up in a Russian/Jewish area in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. At the age of 19 she met and married Harry C. Hirschfeld and the couple made their way to Madison in 1939. Ella was very active in her faith and through local Jewish organizations. She was a founding member of Beth Israel center in Madison and she was Administrative Secretary to multiple rabbis.

On July 4, 1963, Ella and Harry opened Ella’s Deli in downtown Madison, Wisconsin. Ella had been catering meals for the Hillel organization at the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus and her rabbi loved the food so much that he suggested she should open a deli. The Hirschfeld’s bought an old grocery store at 425 State Street and christened the business Ella’s Deli, as the local Jewish students had gotten to know Ella so well.

Ella’s Deli Menu courtesy of the Wisconsin Historical Scoiety

Business boomed from the start. Ella told the Wisconsin State Journal in 1993, “we worked very hard getting it organized, but on Saturdays and Sundays, we used to have lines that reached around the corner.” The corned beef, roast beef and homemade pound cake were the biggest sellers.

Unfortunately for Ella and Harry, the business got too successful and they had a hard time keeping up. The sold Ella’s Deli in 1967 to Nathan Balkin. Under Balkin business continued to flourish and Ella’s was about to expand. A second location at 2902 E. Washington Ave. (East Wash) opened in 1976. Ella Hirschfeld died in 1995.

Wisconsin State Journal – April 25, 1976

The second location was smashing success. The menu featured many traditional Jewish items including matzo ball soup, liver, tongue, kugel, blintzes, bagels. There were also dozens of soup, salad and sandwich options. The real kicker was the ice cream counter, which had 26 flavors of Chocolate Shoppe ice cream and a modified version Ella’s pundcake recipe that was turned into a poundcake sundae.

Ella’s Deli Postcard courtesy of Cardcow

The food and ice cream weren’t the only reason for Ella’s success. Owner Ken Balkin, son of Nathan, described the location on East Wash as a “Jewish Deli (crossed) with animated circus toys.” He went to say that “Ella’s reputation as a destination restaurant has grown along with its burgeoning collection of whizzing, whirling antique toys and its remarkable 1929 vintage Parker carousel next to the Parking lot. It’s an amazing place with a design that is totally distinctive.”



There were 40 unique tables, with tchotchkes and trinkets under glass, superheroes, trains planes, clowns, robots and famous cartoon characters covered the restaurant, which had a capacity of 150 people.

View of the Carousel

Ella’s on State Street closed in 1999. In late 2017, Ken Balkin announced that they were looking to sell Ella’s quickly. He stated “We have decided that the time is right. The economics have just been difficult recently. The competitive nature of the restaurant business in Madison is pretty brutal.” Having found no seller, that’s when they official announced on Facebook and their website that they were closing for good.

On January 21, 2018 a giant celebration was held to honor the 42 years of Ella’s. Tears flowed and hugs plentiful. The local landmark closed its doors that night. The building is still vacant.

Wisconsin State Journal – January 22, 2018

A letter in Wisconsin State Journal on January 27, 2018 summed up perfectly what Ella’s meant to Madison:

We have enjoyed Ella’s Deli since its opening, and we want to honor and appreciate the good things the Balkins have done in addition to the remarkable ways they have fed and entertained us.
From the opening of Ella’s Deli and over the decades, the Balkins have created a gift for the people of Madison. This iconic place of kosher-style food, and with its wonderful toy collection, has offered a warm welcome and unique entertainment for all ages.
In addition to gracious hospitality, the Balkins have offered safe employment opportunities for many young people and adults in their first job experiences.
In our personal visits, we have enjoyed the friendship of Ken and Judy Balkin and members of the staff. They introduced us to new, constantly changing artistic displays of cartoon characters and dream creations, descending from the ceiling and all around us. We have seen these fantasies bring joy to toddlers and “children at heart.”
Many Madison citizens have pursued their entrepreneurial dreams — few have accomplished them as successfully as the Balkins. We are sorry to see Ella’s Deli disappear from the Madison landscape. It has been a shimmering jewel, welcoming all of us.
We thank the Balkins and wish them well in their retirement. – Howard and Lucetta Kanetzke, Madison

Peppermint Lounge – New York, New York

Peppermint Lounge - New York, New York

The Peppermint Lounge was located at 128 West 45th Street in New York. Although it was only opened for seven years (1958-1965), the Peppermint Lounge birthed the Twist, the massive dance craze of the early 60s, and several radio hits.

The following paragraph comes from the wonderful Gender Variance Who’s Who (https://zagria.blogspot.com/2019/11/#.YP7xukxOlaQ) and does a fantastic job of summarizing the demise of the Peppermint Lounge

Peppermint Lounge - New York, New York

The ground floor premises at128 West 45th Street had been licensed on numerous occasions since 1934. Over the years there had been numerous arrests of gay men, and citations for disorderly premises and Administrative Code violations. The NY State Liquor Authority had stated that no renewal was to be issued for 1959 until a bona fide buyer took over. It was then rented to 128 Restaurant Inc, and the owners of record were Ralph Saggesse and Orlando Grippo. In reality they were employed by Sam Konwiser who ran businesses for Johnny Biello, a capo in the Genovese crime family.

The Peppermint Lounge opened in 1958. It had a lengthy mahogany bar running along one side, lots of mirrors and a dance floor at the back, a capacity of just 178 people. There was a back door into the Knickerbocker Hotel Lobby. Johnson et al describe the hotel at that time: it “rented as many rooms by the hour as they did to the luckless out-of-towners, the unemployed and those only a week away from living on the streets”.

The Peppermint Lounge was mainly a gay bar. The major dance craze 1960-1 was the Twist. Much to the surprise of Johnny Biello, this became associated with the Peppermint Lounge, and celebrities, especially Hollywood stars, flocked there to do the dance, and to be photographed doing it. The house band was Joey Dee and the Starlighters. Jackie Kennedy arranged for a temporary ‘Peppermint Lounge’ in the White House. A sister club was opened in Miami Beach. Gays and lesbians liked the dance because it did not necessarily require a partner, and if dancing with a same-sex partner when the police raided, one could spin around to face a partner of the other gender. It is said that (female) go-go dancing (alone on a raised platform for others to watch) originated at the Peppermint Lounge.

Peppermint Lounge - New York, New York

In 1965 the New York State Liquor Authority revoked the Peppermint Lounge’s liquor license. This was upheld in the state Supreme Court. The club closed in December 1965.

Peppermint Lounge - New York, New York

Filjon, Inc. – Syracuse, New York

Filjon, Inc. - Syracuse, New York

Mirrored Balls From $31.50 to $375.00

Ceiling Rotors $11.25-$35.75

Spotlights (3-6 recommended) $19.50

Floodlights (for atmospheric room lighting) $19.50

Spotlight and floodlight replacement bulb $2.60

30″ diameter Mirrored Balls pictured

FILJON, INC.

1211 E. Fayette St.

Syracuse 10, New York

Then and Now: James Street – Alexandria Bay, New York

Alexandria Bay, New York

This 1968 postcard shows James St. in Alexandria Bay at night. The verso says “This popular town draws thousands of visitors each year. It is the gateway to the Beautiful 1000 islands.”

The most recent Google Street View show James Street during the day, but I believe I found the exact location of the photo. On the right stands the rusted shell of the Homestead Restaurant sign and the fantastic Spot Cocktail Lounge arrow in slightly better shape.

Bowers 99’r – Boise, Idaho

Bower's 99'r - Boise, Idaho

Bowers 99’r all you can eat smorgasbord restaurant, was started by Leo and Margie Bowers in the Fall of 1959. at 4043 State St. in Boise.

Bowers ’99r – State Street (courtesy of Bob Hartman)

The low cost and quality service led to instant success and a second restaurant was opened the next year at 5020 Franklin Rd.

Bowers 99’r – 5020 Franklin Rd. (courtesy of Bob Hartman)

The second location was a big success and the first location was closed and the focus shifted to the Franklin location.

The Idaho Statesman – June 14, 1960

In 1962, the Bowers opened yet another location, this time a few hours away at 663 Main Ave. in Twin Falls, Idaho. In rapid succession several more locations opened in Northern California and had plans on expanding throughout the Golden State.

The Idaho Statesman – November 21, 1962

Business in Idaho was quickly abandoned. The Twin Falls location was closed in 1964 and in November, 1965 the Franklin location was shuttered with a whimper.

The Idaho Statesman – November 21, 1965

The California locations puttered along throughout the 60s, but on February 2, 1970, the Franchise Tax Board suspended Bowers’ franchise license to due a failure to pay taxes.

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