One way of defining lives is what goes in our stomachs. There is that old bromide, "You are what you eat." A slight variation of this might be, "You are where you eat." Do you have champagne tastes on a beer budget? Or are you comfortable in the slough of a meat and potatoes diet? Over the years a certain number of restaurants become family favorites and create enduring memories. And over the years many of those places cease to exist. Our own family story shows the downside of really liking eateries that then end up in the proverbial garbage pail.
I want to start out with a positive. Kathy and I met at a church singles breakfast at Village Inn, a chain restaurant that focuses primarily on the breakfast and lunch trade. We are still a couple almost forty years later, and bless their crepes, that Village Inn is still functioning, if more than a little worn for wear. Unfortunately the same can not be said of the staying power for most other such places we used to frequent.
While the following list of now closed gastronomical establishments may be unfamiliar to many, the common associations may ring a few bells.
Googs - Mid priced dinner house where I was a server. Took care of a three month ladies bowling congress. Had to really pump them for tips. Lousy name for a restaurant.
Carlos Murphy's - Irish Mexican restaurant in the old train depot. Kathy turned green when they brought combo plate with refried beans. She had recently moved from Ohio.
Ponderosa Steakhouse - Buffet style - family friendly. Kathy and I went there the night of our engagement. A diamond in the rough.
Lamplighter - Tucson favorite along old motel row. Stuck in the forties. Went night of our marriage. First time I said, "My wife will have ..."
The Good Earth - Kind of a health food nirvana with lots of whole grains and eggs from free range chickens. Ambience was California hip. Went under because of a trademark dispute.
Bobby Mcgee's - Servers dressed up in costumes. Food just adequate, but getting served by Wonder Woman made up for it. Closed before our kids could experience being served by the Lone Ranger and Tonto.
Piccadilly - Southern based cafeteria chain. Kids ate cheap. Always got take home containers when our crumb crunchers were small. Never knew if they would throw a hissy fit and we had to leave quickly.
Coco's - Value priced chain. Kids would crumble saltines while sitting in high chair. Uber mess and revenge for my own time as a server.
Sirloin Stockade - All you can eat, buffet style. Our kids loved it, but it went broke with folks going back for their fifth helping. Was turned into an office complex for urologists. Some kind of weird karma there.
Swensen's Ice Cream Parlor - Was part of a large shopping mall.
Where you went with the kids when your dogs got tired. Great banana splits, but that toy train going round and round and round? Arrgggg! Place got traded out for a health and fitness store. Irony!
Lunt Ave Marble Club - Funky name, great deep dish pizza, giant drinking glasses that resembled pots for plants. Not a marble in sight.
China Rose - Yep, a Chinese restaurant. Great egg rolls and moo shu beef. Our two year old son cried very loudly after grandpa gave him spicy yellow mustard. Torn down and replaced by an auto body shop, trading rice for grease.
Long John Silvers - A national chain. The only fish Kathy would eat because it was so heavily breaded, it didn't taste like fish. Loved the hushpuppies. Our youngest had a horrific poopy dipes episode there. Local stores closed over franchise disputes.
Mimi's Cafe - Classy breakfast. New Orleans motif. Soft jazz, French lace table cloths, vibrant flower beds, Kate the super server. Change in corporate ownership. Switch to rock and roll, no tablecloths, no flowers, no Kate. Place finally bulldozed. Put up a drive through coffee stand.
The Solarium - Lots of glass walls, water features and wood accents. Held my parent's fiftieth wedding anniversary dinner there. The next week the place burned to the ground. Kind of like their marriage.
Mcmahon's Steakhouse - Very pricey. Their idea of a salad was a quarter head of raw lettuce sitting on a plate. They bellied up. Ya think?
Marie Callender's - The pie place. Also had fill you up sandwiches and a decent salad bar. Started looking like a worn shoe. Chain went bankrupt. Didn't sell enough rhubarb pies.
Anthony's in the Catalinas - Also very pricey, but at least their salad added a few carrots. Great for really special occasions. Extensive wine list. No MD 20/20 or Thunderbird. Went down because owner convicted of cooking the books.
You undoubtedly have your own list of restaurants now consigned to the empty cupboards of history. They say nothing good lasts forever. At the very least you can remember that first taste of linguini or that last savor of a medium rare steak at some long gone eatery. Now it's time to discover that new food emporium. Bon appétit.