Menu from The Captain’s Table – Wildwood Crest, New Jersey

The Captain’s Table was seafood restaurant located on Hollywood Road and Toledo Ave in Wildwood Crest, New Jersey. The restaurant, with a nautical-themed decor opened in July 1963.

The building was erected in the shape of a ship and the entrance, which faced the Atlantic Ocean, was at the “bow” of the “ship.” There were three decks, all with an ocean view.

The Captain's Table - Wildwood Crest, New Jersey

It should come as no surprise that the menu was mostly seafood, with a beef and meats section. Family style dinners were served from 5to 9pm.

I don’t know the date on this menu. I am guessing it is from the late 60s or early 70s. The Captain’s Table closed in 2005.

The Captain's Table Menu- Wildwood Crest, New Jersey

Taco Bell – St. Petersburg, Florida

In August 1967, Glen W. Bell Jr., chairman of Taco Bell Inc., opened regional headquarters for the chain at 4901r 34 St. N. in St. Petersburg, and announced plans to open franchise locations throughout Florida.

Within weeks ads started appearing northern Florida papers selling the concept of Taco Bell:

SECURE YOUR FUTURE WITH TACO BELL
America’s fastest growing Mexican Food Drive-In Restaurant Chain offers you a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!
PRIDE: You prepare and serve authentic and delicious Mexican food exclusively. You own the most unique and beautifully designed Mexican Hacienda-style restaurant.
SUCCESS: Over 150 franchised units opened in the past 24 months with more opening all over the nation
PROFITS: The exclusivity of the menu and the uniqueness of the restaurant takes it out of the realm of competition. Earnings are excellent and unlimited!
REQUIREMENTS: The people we select to own a Taco Bell Franchise are able to invest $24,000 in a business with a substantial return, and have the desire to be independent and grow . in their own business.
AREAS AVAILABLE Tampa, Pensacola, West Palm Beach. Ft. Pierce, Lakeland, Gainesville. Jacksonville, and Tallahassee. For Complete Information Write: TACO BELL 4901 34th Street, North St. Petersburg, Fla. 33714

December 14, 1967 a new location opened. The Taco Bell located at 5th Avenue North and 34th St. in St. Petersburg was the first Taco Bell built in the state and the 200th location overall since the company’s inception in 1947.

Tampa Bay Times – November 23, 1967

This was just the start. On December 20th, a Tampa Bay Times article entitled “Taco Tycoon Centers in St. Petersburg”, written by Don Teverbaugh, provided a glimpse in to the mindset of Glen Bell and the company:

Glen W. Bell Jr. knew about St. Petersburg was the old bit about the green benches and the shuffleboard courts and he came here by sheer chance he was on his way to Sarasota.
But Bell liked what he saw in St. Petersburg and decided this was where he wanted his family to live and where he wanted to expand his business.
Bell, a husky ex-marine with a shy smile, is the owner and brains behind one of the fastest growing restaurant chains in the nation Taco Bell Inc.
In the past year, Taco Bell has jumped from 100 to 200 franchisee! units in operation. This year they will have a sales volume of more than $200-million, he says.
Like the McDonald’s Hamburger chain, Bell got his start in San Bernadino, Calif. For a few years he would build up small chains of eight or 10 Mexican food shops, then sell them off.
By constantly experimenting he finally came up with the current blend of Mexican foods he features in his Taco Bell shops and he started franchising the system, the first Taco Bell restaurant opened in 1962 and the first franchise unit in 1965.
Today it costs almost $20,000 for a franchise, plus an 8 per cent cut of the profit. Bell selects the site, builds the plant, leases it to the operator (on a 10 year amortization basis) and provides the proven path to profits.
Each operator is given the right of first refusal for any other Taco Bell restaurants planned in his immediate vicinity.
Bell’s first franchised operation in Florida opened here last week and used more than 1,500 pounds of ground beef during the grand opening. It has been a far more successful opening than Bell had ever hoped for, he! concedes.
Bell plans about 40 franchises for Florida. The next to open will probably be in Miami. So far, most of the applicants are from California (where he will not sell any more franchises). In about six months, perhaps a year, Bell plans to sell “about 15 per cent” of his company to the public.
“I think some of these franchise firms have gone public a little too early but look what’s happened to their stock. It has soared. Maybe I’m wrong for waiting,” he smiles.
Right now, Bell is looking over a number of real estate parcels here which he can transform into a training seminar for his steady stream of new operators. He also plans to build a tortilla factory here to supply the Florida and eastern market he is developing.

Taco Bell Restaurant - St. Petersburg, Florida
Postcard of the first Florida Taco Bell

The first location boomed. hundreds and hundreds of more locations would later follow suit. There is still a Taco Bell on the site of the first one. It is unrecognizable, so I am not sure if it is indeed the same building.

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.

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

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.

Star Trek Lounge – Schriever, Louisiana

Often I come across something in my collection and need to learn more about it. Most of the time I’m able to find out something about it and/or where it was exactly located.

It comes as no surprise that the Star Trek Lounge in Schriever, Louisiana piqued my interest. According to the matchcover the lounge had dancing, music and table service to suit your needs. Other than that, I could find no information about this place. I decided to try to find the building.

Schriever is a rather small census-designated place in Terrebonne Parish, just south of Thibodaux, home of Nicholls State University. The population is around 6,000 and covers only about 14.4 square miles.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 2020-04-29-0002-840x1024.jpg
Stock art on the back cover of Star Trek Lounge matchbook

According to the matchcover the Star Trek Lounge was located on the Morgan City Highway, which is also known as LA-20, 2 1/2 miles from the 3-way junction (where LA-20 and LA-24 meet). Due to the vague nature of the description I was not totally sure where it was located.

If I had to wager a guess, I think this might be the building. The awning and general lounge-like vibe seem to fit how I’d picture the Star Trek.

I wish I knew more. If you can find any information, please let me know.

Pinafini – Los Angeles, California

Matchcover from the Cardboard America Collection

Pinafini opened on April 15, 1985 at 8612 Beverly Blvd. on the ground floor of the Beverly Center in Los Angeles. Started by Walter Shui, shopping-mall mogul and Los Angeles, via-Italy chef Antonio Tommassi, the modern Venetian restaurant was a big hit from the start.

The Los Angeles Times called it a “..slick, hip, high-tech place with its white tiles, hard edges and loud music serving extremely interesting Italian food – and at rather reasonable prices” The interior was self-proclaimed to be “hip, chick, sleek.” Coral booths, coral and blue neon – red and white ’50 style wire chairs, white tile with red grout, red wire tables and various glass-bricks filled the 200-seat space in the Beverly Center.

However, the July 28, 1985 Los Angeles Times stated “Pinafini is something to see. Like the city, the restaurant bears a resemblance to an amusement park; unlike the city, this one is purely 20th-century vintage. The place is a high-tech paradise, all white tile and neon lights and modern art. Modular wire sculptures hang overhead, echoing the little wire bread baskets that sit on the table and the little wire chairs on which you sit.(Extremely uncomfortable chairs, the Reluctant Gourmet was quick to note.)”

The LA Weekly described the menu as “a mix of seafood, meat, vegetable and pasta dishes, includes polpete de came, Venetian meatballs sautéed in tomato sauce; broeto ciozoto, fresh seafood soup with garlic toast; risoto de sepe nero, black risotto with calamari; figa a la venessiana, calfs liver sauteed with sweet onions; pizzas made from potato-dough; and tortes

LA Weekly – March 27, 1986

The location – next to the Hard Rock Café – and staying open until 4am kept Parafini busy for a few years. Reggae music and live DJS kept the party pumping. However, the food and modern atmosphere were very evocative of a short period of time and the operation was never really sustainable.

Pacific Shanghai, Inc., parent company of Parafini, declared Chapter 7 bankruptcy on December 27, 1988 with assets of $1,493,200 and debts of $1,051,266.

Parafini was pretty short-lived and didn’t leave a major legacy, but it is places like this that make me love collecting matchcovers.

Andre’s L’Omelette – Palo Alto, California

Andre Frelier and his brother Pierre owned and operated L’Omelette on El Camino Real Street in Palo Alto, California from 1932 to 1970.

The original restaurant burned to the ground on August 12, 1941 when Harry Gillette, the 57-year old caretaker of the building, inadvertently started a fire when he lighted the gas stove in the café preparing in his breakfast. The flames engulfed the building quickly, killing Gillette.

The San Francisco Examiner – August 13, 1941

A new building was erected in October 1941 at 4170 El Camino on a stretch of highway that was alcohol-free. However, L’Omelette did not always adhere to the prohibition-like rules and were raided and fined on at least 2 occasions for liquor sales. In fact, the place became widely known for their liquor sales.

Postcard showing Andre Frelier mixing his 3,000,000th Martini (courtesy of HipPostcard)

The rebuilt interior evoked a charming bistro with a multi-colored awning and French décor throughout. The chimney near the middle of the restaurant was a popular gathering place.

Interior of L’Omelette (postcard courtesy of CardCow)

Specializing in French cuisine and strong drinks with “sec-appeal” the restaurant thrived under the Frelier brothers’ leadership.

L’Omelette menu from 1953 (courtesy of Reddit)

L’Omelette was part of the fabric of Palo Alto. Countless wedding receptions, gatherings and events were held in there. However, the Frelier brothers were getting older and looked to get out of the business.

The restaurant was sold to a group of Stanford investors headed by former basketball coach Bob Burnett for $500,000. The new group struggled through multiple management changes and even changed their name to L’Ommies in hopes of attracting a younger crowds. Regular patrons were alienated by the changes to the venerable old restaurant and business suffered.

Louis Borel purchased the restaurant in 1977 and changed its name back to L’Omelette. However, in 1981, Borel would change the name once more to Chez Louis. It would enjoy success throughout the 1980s, but as neighborhood and tastes changed, business suffered and Chez Louis closed in April 1995.