Retro Eats…Gotta Love ‘em!

August 17, 2007 at 6:14 pm Leave a comment

I still say kids these days have missed out on a lot when it comes to experiencing classic American cuisine. Oh OK…I’m talking about fast food. But, there is a distinct difference in what you get in the drive-thru today, and the offerings of the vintage mom and pop burger joints and small regional chains of the past. Although we didn’t think about it in these terms back then, I would speculate that the development of retro fast food was determined more in the kitchen than in the boardroom. Think about it.

Griff’s Burger BarOne of the most memorable places was Griff’s Burger Bar. These hamburgers are probably the only reason why many people today are alive! At a dime a pop, they could feed an entire family with change left over to buy fries and a shake. Griff’s Burger Bar, and other regional chains like it, thrived before the age of the behemoth fast food restaurant corporations that we see today. Griff’s back then was housed in an A-frame type structure with a boxed in dining room at the front. As a small child I tried and tried to scale the sides of the A-frame but 2-3 feet was all I could manage before sliding down. The good news is that Griff’s is still around! While not any serious threat to the McDonald’s of the world, Griff’s still puts out burgers and fries that tastes like the real deal instead of the product of zealous corporate consistentency.

KN root beerAnother old standby was K and N Root Beer! This modest little chain produced what seemed like the perfect cure for a sweltering hot Texas summer…ice cold K and N root beer served in a real frosted glass mug! Root beer mugs came in several sizes but the tiny kid’s mug stands in my memory. Once a kid’s raging thirst was quenched, the smell of burgers and fries wafting throught the air started to garner some attention. All you had to do was order what you want off the big menu board in the middle of the building and someone would bring it to you on a bright orange tray! Now, most all people where I live prefer a heavy dose of mustard and fresh onion on their burger. I probably picked up this preference at the local mom and pop burger stands and at the K and N. As the teenage years came upon us, we found ourselves pulling into the K and N in our own cars having long since graduated from the tiny mug to the adult size. Pretty soon we were complicit in the demise of these places as we were swept up by corporate eats like Jack-in-the-Box and Sonic. Much like Griff’s, this regional chain is practically gone. A Google search produced only and handful of K and N drive-ins in Texas, Kentucky, and Tennessee

If an occasion warranted a really special fast food treat, we would go to Ozark Fried Chicken. Long gone, this small chain sported green and white striped rooftops on their restaurants which predated the famaliar red and white pattern used by Kentucky Fried Chicken. The branding for this place was probably not too successful since it incorporated a logo of a woman wearing and old-style bonnet…not too groovy for the swinging 60’s!

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Entry filed under: Patio Culture.

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