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Do you know more about these vintage photos? Email Lindsey Nair or join the conversation on the Fridge Magnet blog (links below).
G.D. Grafitti Dec. 11, 1976 This gangster-themed restaurant was located at Tanglewood Mall. As part of the theme, waiters carried the menu around inside violin cases. The cases were opened and the menus displayed at the table.
Down the Hatch Patrick Henry Hotel June 20, 1976 This bar opened as a comedy club in the basement of the hotel in 1984. Described as a “cozy little downstairs bar” in a 2011 Roanoke Times article that looked back at the Patrick Henry’s history, Down the Hatch “had porthole covers for tables and aquariums behind the bar.”
Corned Beef & Co. Nov. 20, 1988 This photo was taken when Corned Beef & Co. was located in Grandin Village, in the space that would later become Hurley’s, another popular restaurant. Corned Beef has, of course, since moved to downtown Roanoke. Today, this space houses Too Many Books.
The Little Chef Oct. 1981 This iconic Roanoke restaurant was built on Williamson Road in 1957 (not 1950, as the sign claims). It operated off-and-on under several different owners until 2012, when it closed for good after more than 50 years of serving late-night breakfasts and home-cooked lunches to mostly blue-collar crowds.
Capitol Restaurant Aug. 14, 1988 Our archives describe this restaurant as “a working-class hangout on the Roanoke City Market.” From 1987 to 1995, it was owned by Malik and Nora Hasan, who also owned Mount Olive Bar and Grill. The Hasans have both passed away and both restaurants closed.
Buddy Boy Feb. 25, 1975 This was the beloved mascot of Lendy’s, the Salem-based restaurant chain that had locations in Roanoke, Salem, Vinton, Blacksburg, Lynchburg and Richmond at its height. Lots of Roanokers grew up eating Buddy Boy burgers and cruising Lendy’s in their hot rods. The building that housed Lendy’s on Williamson Road in Roanoke (it closed in the late 1970s) was razed last year.
City Lunch July 29, 1972 The City Lunch was open for years on 2nd Street. According to a 1991 article in The Roanoke Times, the restaurant’s breakfast crowd was “dominated by lawyers and businessmen.”
La Maison Restaurant April 9, 1978 La Maison was open in the former Coulter mansion on Airport Road for decades. It was a popular spot for weddings, rehearsal dinners and special occasion meals. The restaurant closed in 1997. According to information on the back of this photo, this is Eddie Stewart, a waiter, pictured in the Saint Emilion Room.
Fiesta Cantina Oct. 13, 1977 The landscape sure has changed since this picture was taken. Today, this is the location of El Toreo on Franklin Road, near Piccadilly Square. Fiesta Cantina gave Roanokers a taste of Mexican cuisine before there was a Mexican restaurant on practically every corner.
The Boiler Room Dec. 17, 1978 The Boiler Room was originally opened by Ernie Arthur in 1949, in the building at the corner of Williamson Road and Campbell Avenue in downtown Roanoke that today houses the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra. The Boiler Room was an all-men’s club. Arthur later left to open Ernie’s Bar & Grill on the market. Ernie’s closed early this year.
Lowell’s Supper Club April 18, 1985 Lowell Reeves and his wife, Alice, opened Lowell’s on Melrose Avenue in 1986. In 1991, Reeves put on an addition and called it Lowell’s Supper Club. The fare at Lowell’s included burgers and fries, soul food and what some described as the best homemade pound cake in Roanoke. Lowell’s closed in 2008.
Archie’s Lobster House Nov. 18, 1976 This restaurant at Williamson and Peters Creek roads was Roanoke’s first seafood restaurant when it opened in 1947. Until 1978, it was operated by Archie Parrish. In 1957, according to newspaper archives, “Some 250 persons eating Sunday dinner filed calmly out of” the restaurant “as a fire roared through the kitchen and storerooms.” The lobster house went on to serve many guests. It was razed in 1981.
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Over the past several years, I’ve reported many a restaurant story that caused me to go digging through old photographs in The Roanoke Times archives.
Every time I have flipped through the hundreds of (mostly) black-and-white images in our library, I’ve told myself I would someday select some of the most interesting or nostalgic photos and share them with readers. As you can see, that day has come.
I suspect this collection of photos will conjure memories of cocktails at Down the Hatch in the Patrick Henry Hotel, French cuisine at La Maison near the Roanoke airport, seafood meals at Archie’s Lobster House and much more.
The only downside to running vintage restaurant photos — besides needing more space to run more of these fascinating gems — is that some of the specifics about these places are buried in microfilm. I’ve done my best to pinpoint locations and dates, but I’d love to hear from readers who know more about these pictures.
To join the conversation, go to the Fridge Magnet blog at blogs.roanoke.com/fridgemagnet.
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