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Old 08-17-2013, 06:52 AM
Status: "Uncomfortably numb" (set 25 days ago)
 
Location: Coastal New Jersey
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gentlearts View Post
I was raised in the 50s and 60s too. We got all dressed up a few times a year and went out to dinner for special occasions. I remember my parents went to Ken's Steakhouse (the salad dressing people) for their anniversary.

Through the 80s and 90s it was still special to us. We still dressed up and went to nice restaurants with friends. In the 80s, when the kids were young we took the whole family to cheap places on Friday nights...6 people for $15.00.

I remember introducing my grandson, in the mid 90s to McDonalds and it was a special treat, not usual. Like soft drinks, it was a rare treat.

Now, we are semi retired and have stopped eating out very much because we are usually disappointed in the quality and expense. We only eat fast food when we're on the road and need to throw something down to stop the hunger pangs. We would never eat it otherwise, but if I had kids going from place to place all the time I'm sure I get them fast food on the way.
I didn't know there really was a Ken's Steakhouse (I've bought the salad dressing).
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Old 08-17-2013, 06:59 AM
 
1,695 posts, read 1,384,253 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by I'm Retired Now View Post
A visit to the town I grew up in, but left 45 years ago, last week made me think about the history of eating out and restaurants. One of the things that hit me about my home town of so many years ago was the incredible number of places to eat that are available now days. And the incredible number of ethnic food available even in a relatively homogeneous mid sized town in the American Midwest.

When I was a kid there in the 1950s and 1960s no one went out to eat except for special events. There were no fast casual restaurants, ethnic food, and fast food only came in in the very late 1960s. Even pizza, Chinese and Mexican food was really uncommon.

The big shopping mall that was built in the 1960s had no food except for a snack bar. There was no food court!

What is your memory of going out to eat in the 1950s and 1960s, if you are old enough to remember?
I was born in 1946. We never went out to eat. Family of 5. People were still struggling from the end of the war and times were tough. And like you stated there were hardly any places to go anyway. Fast food was unheard of. Everything was made from scratch at home. I miss that so much. Even though we had little I cherish the memories and was happy with little.
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Old 08-17-2013, 09:33 AM
 
Location: The New England part of Ohio
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Quote:
Originally Posted by I'm Retired Now View Post
A visit to the town I grew up in, but left 45 years ago, last week made me think about the history of eating out and restaurants. One of the things that hit me about my home town of so many years ago was the incredible number of places to eat that are available now days. And the incredible number of ethnic food available even in a relatively homogeneous mid sized town in the American Midwest.

When I was a kid there in the 1950s and 1960s no one went out to eat except for special events. There were no fast casual restaurants, ethnic food, and fast food only came in in the very late 1960s. Even pizza, Chinese and Mexican food was really uncommon.

The big shopping mall that was built in the 1960s had no food except for a snack bar. There was no food court!

What is your memory of going out to eat in the 1950s and 1960s, if you are old enough to remember?
I think that this is an interesting subject - and there are a few different answers. There is generally more eating out today than when I grew up *but* there are differences among levels of "middle class" as well as what the term "eating out" means.

I think that if we split the middle class into thirds - which most sociologists do - that the top third of the middle class has been eating out with great regularity since the Post WWII period - late 4Os 50s 60s and 70s. (the eighties is generally thought of as another time frame historically)

The upper third of the middle class - doctors. business owners . account executives. accountants attorneys and other professionals and business executives began eating out in part - because our tax structure promoted "the three martini lunch" - of course not everyone indulged to that degree - and wining and dining of clients became common place. Since most of these *men* had "expedience accounts" or credit cards that had the name of their business emblazoned on them - it became an easier thing to do - and it was a "tax deduction".

Since business dining was so much fun - and "free" at least to the "Diner's Club" card owner these same men began treating their wives to dinner out. Major credit cards made eating out more painfree. I can see the stickers on my families favorite window "Bank Americard" "Master Charge" and "American Express"

Frequently children came too.

I grew up at this social echelon and I absolutely ate out more than many of my friends. I would say at least once a week.

Others of my background did as well. I'd see them - and their families at these restaurants.

Where did we eat? A "Continental Restaurant" ( a rather bland mixture of French German Italian and other foods that I'd later associate with "restaurants" in our small town that was somewhat "family friendly". Which your parents enjoyed their cocktails we sipped "Shirley Temples" for the girls and "Roy Rogers" for the boys. There were "children's plates" same food but a smaller portion and price - offered on several dishes.

I remember learning to LOVE "French onion soup" there. Baked Alaska and flaming food was also popular.

Other places that we ate - an Italian restaurant and a huge and fancy kid friendly Chinese restaurant - with a gift shop to amuse the kiddos. As as a kid's treat - "HoJos". (Howard Johnson's) Where I enjoyed clam strips and Indian Pudding for desert.

I do not put places such as Howard Johnson or Friendly's (in New England) in the category of restaurant dining. No table cloths and friendly but not formal service.

Almost always ordered the same thing.

Since we lived of the coast - Sea Food restaurants were popular with families and parents. We had a few favorites.

So were independent "Steak houses" where the steak was often accompanied by a baked potato and sour cream and a "salad" of a lettuce wedge (iceberg) covered with an extra rich blue cheese dressing.

All of these restaurants were gathering places for the upper third of the middle class. They involved table cloths sometimes piano music and fairly formal service. Looking back on it - we learned manners there also. I think that appealed to my upwardly mobile parents.

Chain restaurants did not appear until the 1970s - at least in New England and the the North East or the Middle Atlantic. The first ones I remember were steak restaurants "Steak and Brew" was one.

The first time I went "out to dinner alone"i.e. without my parents - was in the mid 1970s at a "Steak and Brew" - strange that I even remember what I wore - a plaid blazer flaired pants and high platform shoes.

The late 70s and 80s brought chain restaurants and TV announcements that made it OK for middle and lower middle class people to eat out. By OK they always could - but they were not going to eat at a restaurant filled with professionals and business owners.
It seemed the exception would be "Chinese restaurants". I had a good friend whose dad worked at a plant and they ate at the huge Chinese restaurant as much as we did. They did not eat out at restaurants as much as we did - with the exception of "Chinese".

The chain restaurant phenom opened up "table cloth restaurant dining" to all of the middle class.
Coupons encouraged families to "take the kids" or "buy one get one meal of and equal or lesser value - FREE!

I'm not even going to discuss "fast food" here because I do not think of it as "eating out". I do think that there is an inverse relation between "class" and fast food "dining" - with lower middle and poor people eating way more of it.

By the 1970s I would say almost all "middle class" individuals had a dining out experience at least once a month. This will vary by region - but in the regions that I described it would most likely be sea food. Italian. Chinese and beginning in the 1970s chain steak houses which made "The Ultimate Rich man's food accessible to all.
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Old 08-17-2013, 09:53 AM
 
Location: Coastal Georgia
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mightyqueen801 View Post
I didn't know there really was a Ken's Steakhouse (I've bought the salad dressing).
Yes. It was, and is probably still, in Framingham, MA.

One of the places we went was Franklin Manor, where they had finger bowls. Also The Wayside Inn, which is still in business.
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Old 08-17-2013, 05:39 PM
 
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I was born in 1982. We always ate out a lot. It was a special treat to go to my grandmother's apartment and get real food for a change. There's so much love wrapped up in cooking a meal for somebody. It's almost palpable. It was such a pleasure! Except for ethnic food that I have no idea how to make, I don't like to eat out anymore. It's always too noisy and busy. Give me a home cooked meal anyday.
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Old 08-17-2013, 06:14 PM
 
Location: San Diego CA
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Born in 1945 and as a kid in the 50's we didn't eat out much. When we did it was usually at a diner. The food was usually meat and mashed potatoes covered with gravy. If we had a little extra money our parents might order dessert, almost always some kind of pie. Mom and Dad had coffee and we kids Cokes.

There were a few high end restaurants in town and they were invariably steak houses. They were dimly lit with candles on the tables, all leather booth type seating and starched white table cloths. You ordered a cocktail and listened to the house piano player while waiting for your meal. This was usually an adults only crowd but as a teen you might eat there for something like high school graduation or prom night.
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Old 08-19-2013, 04:42 PM
 
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Eating out is also the driving force behind our obesity epidemic. Wherever you go, there is fast food everywhere. People eat this crap daily and don't exercise. Then they wonder why they have so many health problems. If people would go back to making home-cooked meals and eating out maybe 2-3 times per month, our society would be much healthier.
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Old 08-19-2013, 05:17 PM
 
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I think in this country we did not begin to see the proliferation of eating establishments until the highway system was fully built out and an automobile sat in every driveway. After that, it was likely fashionable based on household income.

My father was born in 1940. His family travelled out of town for agricultural shows. I have photos of the family dressed in suits and dresses, staking their card table on a piece of grass next to the highway, where their ate their sandwiches they had packed for the trip.

Women have always worked - in and out of the home, it generations past it was in factories and fields, only in offices for the past couple generations, so I hardly believe people only began eating out when women went to offices. When we worked in fields and factories, we mostly lived in an extended family setting where other relatives chipped in to prep meals as well. I think eating out became a past time like going on vacation and going to the movies and was likely marketed to Americans as a symbol of an upwardly mobile lifestyle. After many years of this, people began to forget how to grow, harvest, preserve and prepare their own meals - voila - making corporations even wealthier - they even chop our veggies for us now .

C
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Old 08-20-2013, 07:33 AM
 
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
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In my New England home, White's Corner Restaurant was a popular place for the middle and working-class of our community to eat out on the weekends in the early 50s. But the boom accelerated when Carbone's Pizza opened up, or at least became popular, later in the decade. Chinese eateries were also popular in the '50s.

On a more general level, i believe that immigrant groups - Italians, Asians, and Eastern Europeans started this as a working class phenomenon at least as early as the 1950s, probably earlier. Anyone here from South Philly can verify the Italian part.
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Old 08-20-2013, 07:37 AM
 
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gentlearts View Post
Yes. It was, and is probably still, in Framingham, MA.

One of the places we went was Franklin Manor, where they had finger bowls. Also The Wayside Inn, which is still in business.
I wrote about my home town a bit earlier (1950s), not too far West from you, Southborough, MA. White's Corner Restaurant was on the Worcester Turnpike, close to the reservoir, and down the road from St. Mark's School, where my stepfather was a teacher for many years.

I visited the Wayside Inn on the Boston Post Road many times.
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