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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In early 1956 Holiday Inn was just beginning to take over as the dominant motel chain. The first Holiday Inn Hotel Courts location opened by Kemmons Wilson at 4941 Summer Ave. in Memphis, Tennessee in the summer of 1952.
On U.S. 70-79-64 At Memphis, Tenn. City Limits East 120 Rooms & Baths – 100 % Air-Conditioned Restaurant in Connection Mailed from Memphis, Tennessee to Mr. & Mrs. Raymond Szukala of Alden, New York on December 6, 1952: Dear Children, Well I expect you are at the Doctors now, as it is Friday eve. This place is the nicest we have had, all new. I wish you could see it.
Within two years three more locations would open in Memphis and a few locations across several states.
1954 Advertising that ran in Tennessee and Mississippi
By the end of the decade Holiday Inn and their glorious Great Sign would come to dominate the American roadside landscape.
This directory, printed for 1956, shows the chain in its relative infancy. I took the directory and distill it into a few different parts. The first image is the directory entry, the second is a postcard image of the site and the final piece is a view of the location now.
Some of the information was rather difficult to find. I did the best I could to find accurate information on these locations. If I missed something or got something wrong please let me know.
U.S. 280 at Junction State 147, on Florida Short Route 3 1/2 miles north of Auburn, a beautiful college town. Restaurant, television in every room, air-conditioned, swimming pool, telephones in rooms.
Lyman L. Pittman, Innkeeper
Located at the Intersection of U.S. 280 and Ala. 147
Opened: March 1, 1956
Closed: Sometime after 1980
US 11 South, Birmingham’s only resort hotel. Near ball park, stadium, fairgrounds. Guest privileges Holiday Beach. Complete convention, sales meeting, exhibit facilities. “Restaurant of Distinction,” drug store, barber, playground, kennel, lawns, service station.
On U.S. 11 South – 9 1/2 Miles West of Downtown Mail Address – Box H – Bessemer, Alabama 16 minutes from downtown Birmingham, 7 acres of comfort and pleasure. 110 air-cond. rooms all on ground floor, parking at bedroom door. Restaurant, Cocktail Lounge-Bar. Children’s playground, swimming pool, other resort activities. Color TV.
Louis P. Woods, Innkeeper
U.S. 11, South Third Avenue
Opened: November 15, 1954
Part of the building is still standing. The back row of rooms has been long since torn down, the pool filled in and the restaurant building is no more. However, if you look at the satellite image you can see the footprint of the old Holiday Inn. A dive motel known as the Hiway Host currently occupies what is still standing.
PINE BLUFF, ARKANSAS
In US 65 at Junction with City Route 65. Swimming pool, restaurant, convention facilities, all beds king-size, tile shower and tub combination, room phones, TV, year-round central air conditioning with individual controls, Baby sitters; kennels.
Mr. and Mrs. Dallas Biggers, Innkeepers
U.S. 65 at City Route 65
Opened: March 1, 1956
Much of the HI shell still stands. The back rows and part of the front motel building are gone. It is currently Classic Inn.
COLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO
On US 85-87 (Denver Highway) at 5700 North Nevada, two miles north of the city. 104 luxurious rooms and suites, all air-conditioned and heated. Swimming pool. All rooms have television, radio and telephones.
Opened: October 1, 1955
This one is tricky. I cannot find any trace of what happened to the building. It appears to be long gone.
UPDATE: Thanks to KoHoSo for bringing to my attention that I have a card in my collection that shows what happened to this location after if ceased to be a Holiday Inn.
Albert Pick Motel 5700 N. Nevada Avenue on Denver Highway 85-87 Colorado Springs, Colorado Phone: Melrose 3-3876 Teletype CU-8436 104 Air-conditioned rooms, all with radio, television, 24-hour telephone service. Swimming Pool. Sirloin Room, Coffee Shop. No charge for children under 12
After hotelier Albert Pick split from the Holiday Inn chains, he rebranded the property under his name. You can see in the postcard above that it is definitely a Holiday Inn layout.
There is nothing left of this location.
GREAT BEND, KANSAS
On US 50-N in West end of Great Bend (at 5220 West 10th). Large meeting and banquet room, restaurant with small private dining rooms. Barber and beauty shop; service station; swimming pool. Individual heating and air conditioning; telephones.
Opened: May 18, 1956 (a month later than advertised)
Attached to Alexander’s Cafe
Great Bend Tribune – May 18, 1956
This located ceased to be a Holiday Inn a while back, but the building is entirely intact. The former restaurant appears to be the office for a storage facility that erected sometime in the 1990s.
On US 59 at junction with State 10 (23rd St.) in southwest part of city. Excellent restaurant; 52 air-conditioned rooms with free TV. Holiday Room (capacity 100); spacious lobby; service station; complete hotel service. All new, all the best.
Allan E. Hall, Innkeeper
U.S. 59 at Kansas 10
23rd and Iowa Streets
Opened: September 1956
This location was torn sometime after 1991. A Days Inn now stands on the site.
On US 81 (S. Brodway at Armory Rd., 1 1/2 mi. south of US 40. Swimming pool, terrace, play area. Near Smoky Hill SAC air base and Kanapolis Lake (Federal park project). Complete automotive service. Teletype connection with other Holiday Inns.
Paul Bryant, Innkeeper
U.S. 81 – Broadway at Armory Rd.
Opened: September 21-23, 1956
The Salina Journal – September 21, 1956
Amazingly, the majority of the former HI is still standing. Not sure when it ceased to be a Holiday Inn, but the Village Inn sign looks like a post-great sign addition, so it may have lasted into the 80s or longer.
On US 24 about 600 ft. west of cloverleaf junction with US 75 at north edge of city. Fine restaurant; Holiday Room (capacity 100); heated swimming pool. Free TV in each of the 52 air-conditioned rooms. Spacious lobby; full hotel service. All new!
Mrs. Grace Friend, Innkeeper
Junction Highway 24 and 75 West
Opened: August 1956
This one is also a bit tricky. Based on the location and the fact there was definitely something with an entrance on this spot, it very could have been here. No matter how you look at it, this location closed a while ago.
US 54, East (7411 East Kellogg) just a few minutes drive from downtown and from McConnell Air Base, Boeing, Beech and Cessna plants. Glass-enclosed heated swimming pool. Excellent coffee shop; gift shop. AAA approved.
Gary F. Thomas, Innkeeper
East 54 Highway
7411 East Kellogg
OPENED: December 1954
The building was torn down quite a while ago and nothing remains of the old site.
US 71, 165, 167 at State 1 (north end McArthur Drive at circle). Easy access to England Air Force Base and downtown. Fifty miles from Fort Polk. Swimming pool.
The Town Talk – August 23, 1954
James P. O’Neal, Innkeeper
U.S. 71, 165 and 167 By-Pass North on State
Highway 1 – McArthur Drive
Opened: May 1955
I had a little bit of trouble finding this one. The only specific address(es) I could find said McArthur Rd. at circle. it was probably in this general area.
US 61 North, inside city limits. In the heart of the Delta cotton country, 75 miles south of Memphis. A Holcomb Hotel with Admiral Benbow Inn Restaurant, specializing in seafood. Swimming pool, gift shop, sample rooms, Holiday Room for meetings.
Teletype: CLKD 185 – Telephone: MAin 4-4391 Enjoy excellent food, in an atmosphere of comfort and convenience. Year-’round air-conditioning with individual controls, swimming pool, TV, advance reservation by Teletype. 24-hour telephone service.
Paul R. Harrington, Innkeeper
U.S. 61, North
1901 State Street
OPENED: August 8, 1954
The Clarksdale Holiday Inn was the 5th Holiday Inn to open and the first one outside of Memphis. Hotelier Albert Pick franchised this location as part of his growing empire of hotels and motels.
Most of the building is still standing. One of the rows has been torn down, but the covered entrance and restaurant building still stand.
One mile west of downtown Greenwood on US 82 and US 49-E bypasses. 100% air-conditioned and steam heated. Phone in every room, TV. Beautiful dining room, convention facilities. Everything for family groups and commercial travelers.
1900 Strong Ave. – U.S. 49E and 82 By-Pass Teletype: Greenwood, Miss. 166 – Telephone: 4472 Enjoy excellent food, comfort and convenience, in the heart of the Mississippi Delta. Every room has TV and individually controlled air conditioning. Large lobby, 24-hour service, one rate, no extras. “The fine old innkeeping tradition in a modern setting.”
R.E. Simmons, Innkeeper
Highway 82 and 49, East By-Pass
1900 Strong Avenue
Opened: March 8, 1955 (Grand opening April 1, 1955)
I believe this is still the same building. I don’t have a picture of the old one, so I can’t totally be sure.
US 11 and 49 South (900 Broadway Drive) just off the Clover Leaf. Swimming pool, restaurant, room phones, convention facilities. Wall to wall carpet, TV, tile baths with tub and shower combination, year-round air conditioning with individual controls. Baby sitters; kennels.
U.S. Highway 11 South and 49 at Cloverleaf 900 Broadway Drive Swimming Pool – Air-Conditioned – Restaurant – TV and Telephone in every room.
Charles Wynn, Innkeeper
U.S. 11, South and 49 at Cloverlead
900 Broadway Drive
OPENED: April 1, 1955
Over the past few years this location has gone through a number of changes.
This aerial view shows what once was the restaurant building and the outline of the pool.
A little while later you can see the restaurant and pool have been torn down.
This more recent street view shows the property has been cleaned up a little and grass is growing where people one swan and ate under the glow of the Great Sign.
LONG BEACH, MISSISSIPPI
US 90 on the Gulf, 6 mi. west of Gulfport, 1 1/2 hrs. east of New Orleans. Stable with ten horses, trail rides, lessons for children. Deep-sea fishing. “The Pub,” Lounge, 1500-ft pier for Gulf Fishing. Year-round swimming pool. Fine golf facilities.
Clarion-Ledger – November 2, 1955
Courtesy of Matchsets
L. Victor Philippi
U.S. 90 – 6 Mi. W. of Gulfport
OPENED- July 1, 1955
I am not going to lie to you – this one has had me stumped. If you’ll notice in the brochure, this Holiday Inn has a completely different sign than the rest of them. Information is hard to come by.
I believe this may have been the location. Most of the waterfront in Long Beach was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Located within city limits at US highway 61-84 by-pass south. 52 air-conditioned rooms, all with radio, television and telephones. Beautiful swimming pool; delicious dining in moderate priced Coffee Shop.
The Historical City famous for its Ante-bellum Homes U.S. Highway 61 North Ph. 2-3686 – AC: 601 – T.W.X. NHZ 266 Restaurant – Swimming Pool – Free TV Free Advance TWX Reservations
OPENED: June 1, 1955
This one did not last long in the Holiday Inn chain. The location is no longer listed in the 1959 Fall directory. It looks like a series of motels occupied the building and lasted for about 50 years.
The building is gone now, having been torn down in the late 1990s. However, on the 1996 satellite photo of Natchez, I believe you can see the original structure.
Here’s the same location as of 2015
WEST POINT, MISSISSIPPI
Junction US 45-W and Miss. 10 on shortest and best route from Great Lakes area to Gulf, Florida and Southwest. Near Natchez Trace and Columbus USAF Base. Swimming pool; playground and park in connection. Fishing and gold nearby. Fine food.
James R. Keenan, Innkeeper
U.S. 45 West and Miss. 10
OPENED: July 1, 1956
Another tricky location. I cannot find an image of the overall shape and design of this location. The address is fairly vague, too. I was able to find a couple of motels on Google Earth from 2006 that may or may not be this location.
KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI
13900 East US 40 Highway Greater Kansas City’s Largest and Finest Highway Hotel. Teletype: INDP., MO.61 – Telephone HUmboldt 3-9579
James A. Spears, Innkeeper
U.S. 40 at Noland Road
13900 East U.S. Hwy. 40
OPENED: November 14, 1954
This was the seventh location to spring up. It was torn down years ago in the name of the name of commerce.
ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI
By-pass U.S. 66 and 67 4543 North Lindbergh Blvd. at Long Road Telephone: HA 8-8900 Swimming Pool – Air-conditioned – Restaurant – Free TV – Free Teletype Reservations
William Costello, Innkeeper
By-Pass 66 and 67
OPENED: July 1, 1956
One of the largest locations in the early years with 5 motel buildings and a restaurant. The court was modified in the 70s or 80s and now very little remains of the St. Louis location.
GREENSBORO, NORTH CAROLINA
NW corner US 29 north and 16th St. inside city limits – 2 1/2 miles from center of city. Featuring 150-seat restaurant, free television, telephones in all rooms, Honeymoon suite.
U.S. 29 North at 16th St. in City Limits 90 Rooms and Baths – 150-Seat Restaurant – Banquet Facilities – Sales, Sample Room – Bridal Suite – Television, Telephones – Wall-to-Wall Carpets – Tom Kellam, Innkeeper – Phone: BR. 5-5371
Tom Kellam, Innkeeper
U.S. 29 North at 16th Street
OPENED: November 15, 1955
This is one of the most complete locations left. The front building/restaurant is gone but the other two buildings are still standing.
South side of US 30 in downtown Canton, Ohio, the last major city you pass through en route to New York City for a comfortable one-day drive via the turnpike. Conference and salesmen’s sample rooms available.
Courtesy of William Bird
C.L. Maier, Innkeeper
U.S. 30 Downtown
800 W. Tuscarawas
OPENED: July 1, 1956
This is another location that remains fairly intact. The pool is gone, but you can see the outline to the right of the building.
Stony Ridge Interchange of the Ohio Turnpike and Ohio Route 120 (Detroit-Toledo Expressway). 18 minutes SE from center of Toledo – 1 hr. from Detroit. In the heart of industrial Ohio and Michigan. Completely new…entirely superior.
Highway 120 at No. 5 Interchange Ohio Turnpike Indoor Pool – Cocktail Lounge Restaurant Sauna Baths Phone: Stoney Ridge Ohio TE 7-2045
Paul Richards, Innkeeper
Route 120 at No. 5 Interchange of Ohio Turnpike
OPENED: June 1, 1956
This location is mostly standing as well. The pool has been filled in and the current motel looks like it might be in rough shape.
OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA
12001 Northeast Urban Expressway on US 66 and 77, one mile west of Turner Turnpike toll gate. Only a few minutes to any place in Oklahoma City. Spacious living combines downtown hotel features with resort hotel luxuries at rates all can afford.
Holiday Inn is Oklahoma’s Most Distinctive Hotel. Spacious living combines downtown hotel features with resort luxuries at rates all can afford. Featured are 150 beautiful rooms, year ’round Air-conditioning, 24-hour coffee shop, the beautiful Sirloin Room, Terrace dining. Gift Shop and Swimming Pool. Holiday Inn Hotel 12001 Northeast Urban Expressway Oklahoma City, Oklahoma One Mile West of the Turner Turnpike On U.S. Highways 66 and 77
Cliff Potts, Innkeeper
U.S. 66 and 77 Northeast
12001 Northeast Urban Expressway
OPENED: December 1954
No clue. I cannot find this location. The street address does not exist anymore and the other directions are pretty vague. Leave a comment if you have an idea or know where it was located.
CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA
On US 17 (Ocean Highway) 2 1/2 miles south of Old Historic Charleston. Restaurant, television, swimming pool, 20 minutes drive to world-famous gardens. Fine golf courses, drive-in theater, ocean beaches, Fort Sumter National Monument nearby.
2 1/2 Miles South of Historic CHARLESTON, S.C. On U.S. Ocean Highway 17 Telephone: SOuth 6-1651 – Teletype CS 286
Kirk Nabors, Innkeeper
U.S. Ocean Highway 17S.
OPENED: February 19, 1955
Another location that I cannot find anywhere on the map. There is no street address and US 17 goes on for miles and miles. I assume it’s gone.
US 45 North – on the road to Florida. Near Country Club. Swimming pool, year-round air conditioning, restaurant, convention facilities. Service station, television, wall to wall carpeting, telephone in every room. Plenty of parking space.
W.M. Berfield, Innkeeper
U.S. 45 North
OPENED: Spring 1955
This one was also difficult to find. I believe that this aerial view shows where the HI once stood. It’s the empty lot on the left side.
MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE (DOWNTOWN)
US 61 South (980 S. 3rd St.) two minutes from center of downtown. Convention facilities for 400 persons. Swimming pool, sample rooms, radio station, shopping center adjoining lobby. Limousine stop for all airlines. 172 rooms.
Memphis, Tennessee U.S. 61 – 980 South Third Air-Conditioned – Swimming Pool – Restaurant – In the City’s Business District
Jack Scheibler, Innkeeper
U.S. 61 at 64, 70 and 79 Downtown
980 S. Third Street
OPENED: November 1, 1953
The Jackson Sun – November 2, 1953
This was the third Holiday Inn to be built. The building still stands but has been heavily modified to become a Traffic Signal Maintenance & Construction supply for the city of Memphis.
MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE (EAST)
US 70-79-64 (4941 Summer Ave.) in east Memphis. In the heart of Memphis’ finest residential area, 20 minutes from downtown, within 5 minutes of best golf courses and clubs. Swimming pool, dining room, gift shop. 120 rooms.
4941 Summer Ave. – U.S. 70, 79 & 64 East Memphis, Tennessee Phone: 34-6687 3 Other Locations in Memphis: U.S. 61 South – U.S. 51 North – U.S. 51 South 450 Rooms – 450 Baths – 100% Air-Conditioned – Steam Heat – Pleasure Eating – Bridal Suite – Free Swimming Pool for Guests Only
Walker Gray, Innkeeper
U.S. 64, 70 and 79
4941 East Summer Ave.
OPENED: August 1, 1952
This is the original Holiday Inn. It opened in the Summer of 1952. The ribbon was cut by the five children of Kemmons and Dorothy Wilson.
The location stated with 120 rooms and expanded to 450 rooms a few years later. The location was so successful that the Holiday Inn headquarters were located on Summer Ave. nearby.
This location was sold in 1973 and demolished in 1994. An historical marker is located on the site.
MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE (NORTH)
US 51 North (4022 US 51 N.) at city limits. 20 min. from downtown. Nearest to Firestone, Bruce, Humko, Kimberly-Clark, US Rubber, Int’l Harvester, duPont, Grace Chemical, and largest US Naval air training center. Dining room, swimming pool. 120 rooms
4022 U.S. Highway 51 North Phone: 56691 MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE 3 Other Locations in Memphis: U.S. 70, 79 & 64 East U.S. 61 South – U.S. 51 South 450 Rooms – 450 Baths – 100% Air-Conditioned – Steam Heat – Pleasure Eating – Limited Free Sample Rooms Upon Request
Mrs. Kate McDonald, Innkeeper
U.S. 51 North
4022 Thomas St.
OPENED: Winter 1953
The fourth of the original four Holiday Inns. The building still stood as of the 1997 aerial view (the red dot and three long buildings).
There is nothing currently at that location.
MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE (SOUTH)
US 51 South (2300 S. Bellevue). Ten minutes from Memphis airport. Limousine stop for all airlines. Twenty minutes from downtown. Playground with electric merry-go-round for children. Swimming pool, dining room, 76 rooms.
2300 So. Bellevue Blvd. – U.S. 51 South Memphis, Tennessee Phone WH 8-1522 3 Other Locations in Memphis U.S. Highway 70, 79 & 64 East U.S. Hwy. 61 South – U.S. Hwy. 51 North 450 Rooms – 450 Baths – 100% Air-Conditioned – Steam Heat – Pleasure Eating – Limited Free Sample Rooms Upon Request
Valley Hull, Innkeeper
U.S. 51 South
2300 S. Bellevue Ave.
Opened: Spring 1953
The second Holiday Inn Hotel Court to open in Memphis was located on S. Bellevue Blvd. The sprawling complex contained 450 rooms and a restaurant. The location lasted a little while, but changing neighborhoods and tastes, even in the Holiday Inn brand, caused this location to fall out of the chain.
You can see by the aerial view that many of the buildings are still standing.
US 60 & 66 (1411 NE 8th) in north Amarillo. Individually controlled year-round centrail air-conditioning. King-size Gyramatic mattresses, room phones, radios, TV. Heated swimming pool. Kiddie Korral. Easy access to downtown.
Bill Currens, Innkeeper
U.S. 60, 66
1411 N.E. 8th Street
Opened: October 31, 1954
The Amarillo location, built at the same time as the Independence/St. Louis location, opened on Halloween day 1954. It was officially the 6th location in the chain (behind four locations in Memphis and the one in Clarksdale, MS.
This is the 1991 aerial view on Google Earth. You can see the shell of the early Holiday Inns. The building would be torn down before the next aerial photo was taken in 1995.
This is the site now.
US 13 (Military Hwy) just east of junction with us 17, Norfolk county, Va. 10 minutes to downtown Norfolk or Portsmouth. Convenient to Azalea Gardens, historic houses, shopping center. Golf privileges. World’s largest naval base, shipyard nearby.
Courtesy of 1950s unlimited.
W. Ken Howard, Innkeeper
U.S. Highway 13 and 460
438 W. Ocean Drive
Opened: January 15, 1956
Not sure which one of these locations was the HI. I believe it may have been the one on the far right of the aerial view below.
In the early 1970s America was in the middle of an economic crisis. With less money to spend, America’s travel plans understandably changed. Once affordable chains like Howard Johnson and Holiday Inn had essentially become hotels and with the hotel amenities such as a pool, restaurant, and often a night club, prices had gotten too high for a family looking to just stay somewhere decent to stay for a night. New motels with fewer frills and a lower price were now in vogue.
Budget motel chains such as TraveLodge, Motel 6, Super 8, began to take a much bigger piece of the roadside lodging. These big chains began taking a major hit and were so worried that they both tried budget motel chains offshoots with the short-lived Howard Johnson’s 3-Penny Inns and Holiday Inn, Jr.
The Sheboygan Press – September 9, 1973
A budget motel arms race began to build as many economical, inexpensive motels with just the basics – a clean lobby, hot shower and a place to sleep. The Marcus Corporation, a Milwaukee-based company that ran a series of theatres, Captain’s Steak Joynts, Big Boy franchises and operated the venerable old Marc Plaza and Pfister Hotels in downtown Milwaukee, wanted to get in on the budget lodging game and began construction on the first motels in the chain in the summer of 1973.
Located in Sheboygan and Oshkosh, Wisconsin, the motels would offer $8 per night rooms “in keeping with the increasing importance of economy in the minds of travelers and consumers.” The Marcus Corp., also announced that a Big Boy franchise would be adjacent door to every future Budgetel.
A view of the not-yet finished Budgetel in Oshkosh – The Oshkosh Northwestern – October 6, 1973
The Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle – May 29, 1975
The Oshkosh located opened on March 8, 1974 and the Sheboygan location, after some construction delays, in November of that year. (The $8 price promised had already been increased to $8.95 by opening and would be $9.50 in 1975). They were an immediate success. A third location in Bloomington, Minnesota would open on June 1, 1975. Two other motels under the Guest House Inns name, were added to the chain.
In the Fall of 1975 the Budgetel would introduce a new idea called the Road Runner Club. According to an advertisement in the Wausau Daily Herald on September 24, 1975, the Road Runner Club was:
A new concept in accommodations for frequent travelers: stay ten nights at any one or all of our Budgetels and Guest House Inns within one year, and your eleventh night is free.”
That incentive program, never before offered by a lodging chain, would reward guests for staying a Marc budget motel. It worked like a charm.
By the 1982 there were twelve Budgetel locations. Over the next fours years, the would be locations in eighteen states across the Midwest and Southeast. In 1986, when this brochure was published, there were 47 locations with 6 more to open by the end of 1987. One decade later 153 Budgetel properties in thirty states.
In 1998, Marcus Corp. announced that the franchise would change its name name to Baymont. Doris Keller, head of the Company’s Franchise Advisory Council, stated in 1998 interview that the name no longer reflected the subsidiary’s features and amenities. “Budgetel has always been a great hotel product for business and leisure travelers, but the name is a misnomer.”
In July 2004, Marcus Corporation would sell the chain to La Quinta Corporation.. La Quinta was sold in 2005 to the Blackstone Group who in turn sold the Baymont name to what it is now known as Wyndham Worldwide. The Baymont is now part of a group of 15 hotels owned by Wyndham including Super 8 & TraveLodge.
The 1987 brochure offers a glimpse of the Budgetel in all of its 1980s glory. There’s the lobby complete with flowers everywhere at two women with floppy bows.
A conference room with more flowers, a painting of a flowers, a very modern lamp and a VCR available upon request.
The last picture shows the Leisure Suite complete with more flowers, a floral bedspread and a woman in a shiny lamé shirt with shoulder pads for days.
The address listed below were the locations of every Budgetel Inn in 1986 and 1987. The key:
GREEN – Motel still standing, now a Baymont Inn
BLACK – Motel still standing, now a La Quinta Inn
BLUE – Motel still standing but not a Baymont Inn or La Quinta
RED – Motel gone
ORANGE – Actual street location unknown/cannot find current or previous location
ALABAMA BIRMINGHAM (Open Summer ’87) 513 Cahaba Park HUNTSVILLE 4890 University Drive NW MONTGOMERY 5225 Carmichael Rd.
ARKANSAS FORT SMITH 2123 Burnham Rd. LITTLE ROCK 1010 Breckenridge
FLORIDA FORT LAUDERDALE WEST (Open Winter ’87) Exit #20 east to West Commercial Blvd. TAMPA EAST 4811 U.S. Hwy 301 North TAMPA SOUTHEAST 602 S. Falkenburg Rd.
GEORGIA ATLANTA (Lenox-Buckhead) 2535 Chantilly Dr. NE ATLANTA (Peachtree-Norcross) 5395 Peachtree Industrial Blvd. Norcross, GA BRUNSWICK 105 Tourist Dr. COLUMBUS 2919 Warm Springs Rd.
ILLINOIS CHICAGO NW (Glenview) 1625 Milwaukee Ave. CHICAGO NW (Hoffman Estates) 2075 Barrington Rd. CHICAGO SOUTH (South Holland) 17225 Halsted St. DECATUR 5100 Hickory Point Frontage Rd. WILLOWBROOK (Hinsdale) 16 W. 395 79th St.
INDIANA FORT WAYNE 1005 W. Washington Center Rd. INDIANAPOLIS – AIRPORT 2650 Executive Dr.
LOUISIANA BATON ROUGE 10555 Rieger Rd.
MASSACHUSETTS WORCESTER/AUBURN 444 Southbridge St.
MICHIGAN DETROIT WEST (Canton) 41211 Ford Rd. DETROIT AIRPORT 900 Wickham Rd. DETROIT (Roseville) 20675 13 Mile Road JACKSON 2035 Service Dr. WARREN 30900 Van Dyke Rd.
MINNESOTA MINNEAPOLIS-AIRPORT 7815 Nicollet Avenue St. MINNEAPOLIS NORTH 6415 James Circle N.
MISSISSIPPI MERIDIAN 730 Roebuck Dr.
MISSOURI NORTH KANSAS CITY 2214 Taney ST. LOUIS (Westpoint) 12300 Dorsett Rd. ST. LOUIS SOUTH (Festus) (Open September ’87) 1303 Veterans Blvd.
NEBRASKA OMAHA 10760 M Street
OHIO CINCINNATI NORTH 12150 Springfield Pike CLEVELAND (Independence) 6161 Quarry Lane CLEVELAND (Mayfield Heights) 1421 Golden Gate Blvd.
SOUTH CAROLINA COLUMBIA EAST 1538 Horseshoe Dr. COLUMBIA WEST 911 Bush River Rd.
TENNESSEE JACKSON 2370 N. Highland Ave. MEMPHIS 6020 Shelby Oaks Dr. MEMPHIS AIRPORT 3005 Mill Branch Rd. NASHVILLE AIRPORT 531 Donelson Pike NASHVILLE NORTH (Open Late Summer ’87) 120 Cartwright Ct.
TEXAS DALLAS (Plano) (Open August ’87) 621 Central Parkway East
WISCONSIN APPLETON 2930 W. College Ave. KENOSHA 7540 118th Ave. MANITOWOC 908 Washington St. MILWAUKEE NORTHEAST 5100 N. Port Washington Rd. MILWAUKEE NORTHWEST 5442 N. Lovers Lane Rd. MILWAUKEE SOUTH-AIRPORT (Open Winter ’87) 13th St. at Rawson Ave. MILWAUKEE WEST 20391 West Bluemound Rd. OSHKOSH 1950 Omro Rd. WAUSAU 1910 Stewart Ave.
GUEST HOUSE INN APPLETON 3730 W. College Ave.
Coming in Spring of 1988 an all new Guest House Suites.
Stay with the Frugal Bear! That was the motto of a chain of motels located in the Northeast known as Koala Inns. Koala was another budget motel franchise that sought to entice budget-conscious travelers by providing luxury at a low price.
Hartford Courant – September 23, 1973
The first Koala Inns location opened in Windsor Locks, Connecticut near Bradley International Airport on December 3, 1973. Soon other locations open in Schenectady, New York; Hartford, Connecticut and Braintree, Massachusetts. Montreal, Quebec and Syracuse, New York were planned to open but eventually fell through.
Hartford Courant – September 23, 1973
The original goal of Koala Inns was to open a new location every six weeks but the parent company, International Motel Management Corporation backed away from that plan in the Summer of 1974. The group blamed high construction costs and mortgage interest rates for backing away.
Democrat and Chronicle – August 27, 1974
With expansions plans gone, the four Koala Inns continued to operate as a very small collective of motels. The locations did not seem to be in the safest of areas as I came across multiple stories about robberies, assaults, drug use and even the Windsor Locks night manager being abducted and beaten in June 1974.
The Windsor Locks location would be hit hard by a tornado that tore through the area on October 4, 1979, killing 3 people and doing millions of dollars worth of damage. The roof was torn off the motel and several of the rooms were destroyed. The motel would re-open in May of 1980.
Hartford Courant – October 5, 1979
A few more locations would open in the next several years: Hyannis, Massachusetts; Framingham, Massachusetts; Woburn, Massachusetts; Manchester, New Hampshire and Bangor, Maine, making the Koala Inns a recognizable name in New Englandin the 1980s.
Hartford Courant – June 30, 1985
The chain would be sold in 1989 and the properties converted into Days Inns and Koala Inss would be another small, forgotten chain of budget motels.
Thrifty Scot was a chain of motels across the Midwest. The first location opened on May 13, 1973 in St. Cloud, Minnesota. The chain was started by real estate developers Cy and Dan Brutger and within a few years the chain of no-frills, budget motels thrived.
St. Cloud Times – May 16, 1973
I know that there were at least 28 and as many as 30 locations scattered across nine states. I have not found a directory for the Thrifty Scot. I pieced this directory together after going through dozens of newspapers, websites and books. I am fairly certain that the address I have are correct. The locations without an address, are the ones I found mentioned but never found any details.
The chain dissolved in 1986 when all locations became Days Inns.
St. Cloud Times – May 11, 1973
3625 E. Mulberry
Thrifty Scot 1 person: $26.90 2 persons: $30.90 Fort Collins, CO 80524 2 psns. 2 beds: $33.90 303/221-5490 Cribs & Rollaways: $3.00 Distance from campus: 5 mi., Exit 269B West from 1-25, AC, TV, phone, complimentary cont. breakfast, some rooms equipped for wheelchairs, some nonsmoking rooms, restaurants in vicinity. Reservations must be made by 15 June 1984.
2301 Fourth St. SW
NEWTON I-80 & Hwy. 14 Exit
Hwys 371 & 210
6300 Wayzata Blvd.
MINNEAPOLIS – BROOKLYN CENTER
Shinglecreek Parkway and Interstate 694
At the dawn of the 1970s, the motel industry was at a crossroads. Big motel chains had spent the 1960 building large, fancy motels with opulent cocktail lounges and restaurant attached.
As the economy struggled, occupancy fell in those motels. To combat this problem the motels would charge more to make up for the lost revenue. There is where a new concept is lodging kicked in.
No frills,budget motels began to spring up on highways and freeways all over the US. These budget motels appealed to salesmen and “to the family en route to a destination, including campers.”
Chains like Motel 6, Imperial ‘400’, Days Inn, Scottish Inns, Happy Inns, Friendly Inns, Family Inns, Regal 8, Thr-Rift Inns, Chalet Motor Lodges, and Econo-Travel Motor Hotels charged between $6 and $10 a night .These motels were not equipped with swimming pools, did not have a restaurant or bar as part of the and many did not include television, just a simple room for the budget conscious traveler.
Econo-Travel Motor Hotels started in Virginia around 1968 and by 1971 there 64 motels. This directory, from the fall/winter of 1974-75, is the chain at its apex. A few years later many of these motel would close and the franchise would be rebranded as Econo Lodge and then later sold.
Green Link – Motel still there and it is still an Econo Lodge
Blue Link – Motel building still standing, no longer an Econo Lodge
Red Link – Building razed
Horn & Hardart opened their first automat on June 9, 1902. The history of these restaurants and its impact on Philadelphia is beautifully captured in an article by Dr. Stephen Nepa in The Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia. The following section is from that 2013 article:
Beloved by generations of diners and immortalized in art, song, cinema, and poetic verse, Automats, also known as “automatics” or “waiterless restaurants,” were popular manifestations of an early-twentieth century modernizing impulse. Influenced by Frederick W. Taylor’s studies of scientific management and the widespread use of the assembly line, the Automat removed the process of ordering food through a professional waitstaff and allowed customers a faster dining experience via coin-operated vending machines. Designed to streamline dining out while offering a broad choice of freshly prepared menu items, Automats were integral features of Greater Philadelphia’s restaurant industry from the early 1900s through the mid-1960s.
Automats first appeared in Germany and Scandinavia in the 1890s. The first Automat in the United States opened in 1902 near New York’s Union Square. However, it failed to gain mass appeal and closed three years later. The Philadelphia area’s first Automat is credited to Joseph Horn (1861-1941) and Frank Hardart (1850-1918), whose local baking company imported the technology from Quisiana, a Berlin-based manufacturer….
Philadelphian Horn and New Orleans transplant Hardart had operated luncheonettes and bakeries in Center City since partnering in 1888. For their first Automat, they chose a site at 818 Chestnut Street. It proved an immediate sensation. After it debuted June 9, 1902, the Philadelphia Inquirer noted that Horn and Hardart had solved the city’s “rapid transit luncheon problem” of feeding people on the go. Their official slogan, “less work for mother,” affirmed their goal for faster restaurant service.
818 Chestnut St. – Courtesy of Phillyhistory.org
In 1932, there were over 40 restaurants, of which fewer than 20 were automats, in the Greater Philadelphia area and dozens more in New York. The company was thriving.
However, after the second World War, Horn & Hardart struggled to keep up with modern times. Changing tastes, reliance on automobiles and the flight to the suburbs slowed business. Urban renewal would claim at least one location when the company was forced to closed their commissary to make way for dorms at Thomas Jefferson University. One location at 16th and Chestnut hoped to revive business by selling alcohol, but to no avail.
The original Automat, at 818 Chestnut Street was auctioned off to the highest bidder in 1969. The interior of the venerable old restaurant was donated to the National Museum of American History and everything else sold. Horn and Hardart continued to limp until 1981 when the company filed for bankruptcy. May 12, 1990 saw the last location close it doors, ending the company’s near ninety-year run as Philadelphia eating institution.
This list, compiled from an undated address list and some research. Some locations may be missing. If you know of more, please leave a comment or e-mail me.
234 Market St.
339 Market St.
818 Chestnut St.
808 Arch St.
909 Market St.
1508 Market St.
11th & Market Sts.
101 S. Juniper St.
219 S. Broad St.
248 N. Broad St.
1601 Chestnut St.
1815-17 E. Allegheny
11th & Ludlow Sts.
1321 Market St.
5141 Market St.
104 S. 8th St.
11th & Market Sts.
101 S. Juniper St.
1508 Market St.
4670 Frankford Ave.
3413 Woodland Ave.
6826 Market St.
3638 N. Broad St.
219 S. Broad St.
6006 Market St.
136 Market St.
730 Market St.
104 S. 8th St.
26 N. 11th St.
11th & Ludlow Sts.
106 S. 11th St.
101 S. Juniper St.
126 S. 4th St.
244 N. Broad St.
Broad & Chestnut
818 Chestnut St.
1508 Market St.
1601 Chestnut St.
3940 Chestnut St.
4847 N. Broad St.
1429 Arch St.
11 S. 18th St.
23 W. Lancaster Ave., Ardmore
412 Old York Rd.
54th & City Line
232 Market St.
732 Market St.
820 Chestnut St.
17 S. 11th St.
1601 Chestnut St.
3951 Market St.
5137 Market St.
6008 Market St.
3634 N. Broad St.
4847 N. Broad St.
5706 N. Broad St.
5543 N. 5th Ave.
4647 Frankford Ave.
5233 Frankford Ave.
6828 Market St.
6333 Woodland Ave.
5048 Baltimore Ave.
7308 Frankford Ave.
7200 Ogontz Ave.
6038 Castor Ave.
23 W. Lancaster Ave., Ardmore
881 Main St., Darby
231 Haverford Ave., Narberth
412 Old York Rd., Jenkintown
63rd & Lancaster Ave., Overbrook
16 Broadway, Camden
719 Haddon Ave., Collingswood
144 Kings Highway, E. Haddonfield
Founded 1958, in Memphis, Tennessee, the Downtowner Corporation built and operated all of its own motels. Every Dowtowner Motor Inn was located downtown and offered a no-fills, cheap place to stay for the night. The Downtowner locations were strategically placed near a large hotel or convention center in hopes that business would spill over in their direction. It worked.
The Rowntowner Motor Inn brand was introduced in 1967 to designate locations more in the suburbs than downtown.
American downtown life declined heavily in the late 1960/early 1970s. Businesses, hotels, everything was moving away from the downtown area. The hotels were struggling to stay afloat and so was the Downtowner chain.
This 1968 brochure was printed right at the beginning of the chain’s slow, downward turn.
The company was sold to Aetna Life and Casualty Insurance in 1971 and sold again the next year to Perkins Pancake House. The company’s headquarters moved west. In 1973 the company was sold again for a third time and two years later a fourth time.
Twenty plus locations remained open through the eighties when the company was sold yet again for a fifth and final time. By 1993 there were only two locations left. Now there are none.
The locations below are what was listed in the 1968 book. A red link means the building is gone and a blue link indicates that the motel still stands under a different name.
The postcards and clippings below will directly underneath the location posted.
ORLANDO S. Orange Ave. & Jackson St.
Combined advantages of Motel and Hotel facilities in a Downtown location. 112 Spacious rooms – Color TV – Swimming Pool – Free Parking – Free Phone-A-Towner reservations to other Downtowner, Rowntowner Motor Inn and Royal Coach Inns.
SPRINGFIELD 400 North 9th St.
Restaurant – Free Parking – TV – HiFi – Free Reservation Service – Heated Swimming Pool – Private Meeting Rooms – Ultra Modern accommodations – In the Heart of Downtown
We are located between Lincoln’s Home and Lincoln’s Tomb.
Tony’s Restaurant in the Springfield Downtowner postcard courtesy of Neat Stuff Blog
LEXINGTON 347 E. Main St.
155 air-conditioned rooms with TV, Musak, pool, direct dial phones. In the center of town, 5 blocks from UK. Bar and restaurant.
KANSAS CITY 13th & Central
Luxurious travel – living in the center of things – Walking distance to business – shopping – entertainment facilities. Spacious rooms – Free TV – Swimming Pool – Free Park – Free Reservations Service to All Downtowners Nationwide.
ALBUQUERQUE 717 Central, NWOn U.S. 66, 717 Central Avenue, NW
In the heart of downtown., PAT free reservation service, ultra modern accommodations, free parking, free tv – HiFi. Heated swimming pool, private meeting rooms, reasonable rates
Jct. I-95 & U.S. 301, Manning, S.C.
100 rooms, connecting units, individually controlled heat and air conditioning. Color TV in every room. Direct dial phones, 2 heated pools, restaurant and lounge. Credit cards welcome. Near Lake Marion.
CHEYENNE 1719 Central Ave.Cheyenne’s newest and most modern motor hotel – 88 air conditioned units – Famous Pancake House Restaurant – Dining room – Bar and lounge – Heated Garage – Parking free – Enclosed year around swimming pool – Banquet & meeting rooms & free television and Hi Fi. In the heart of Downtown Cheyenne, 1719 Central Ave.