Monday, January 10, 2011

Name That Restaurant on Oberlin Avenue in the 1970's

Do you remember the restaurant in this building at 4650 Oberlin Avenue back in the early 1970's?

Although I live in Sheffield Lake, I still spend a lot of time in Lorain, going up and down Oberlin Avenue.  Every once in a while, I notice that another restaurant has come and gone in that stretch of road, south of Tower Boulevard. It seems to be a veritable graveyard of national chain restaurants: Pizza Hut, Kentucky Fried Chicken and a few others.

Even though the franchised businesses may have closed, the buildings usually remain. Iconic structures like a Pizza Hut or KFC, especially if they closed in the last decade or so, are easy to identify. However, the more obscure ones require the efforts of a modern urban archeologist to determine what used to be in that building.

Fortunately, this blogger has a good memory when it comes to foodstuffs. There's one building along there, at 4650 Oberlin Avenue, with long-forgotten restaurant roots. Today it is the offices of Dr. Paul J. Alton, O.D., but back in the early 1970's it was briefly a Lum's Restaurant.

Photo courtesy of Don Boyd's website
According to this Wiki entry, Lum's was a family chain that was founded in 1956. The business grew slowly, from a single hot dog stand to a chain of more than 300 stores by the 1970's.

As the sign in the photo at left (courtesy of www.donboyd.net) says, their specialty was hot dogs steamed in beer.

I remember my family eating there at least once, and all of us enjoyed their signature dish.

The Lum's on Oberlin Avenue in Lorain first appeared in the City Directory in 1970, wedged between an apartment complex and a private residence. It also appeared in the 1971 book, but by 1972 it was gone.

But that wasn't the end of tasty goings-on at this location.

The 1973 and 1974 City Directories revealed that a restaurant called Italian Gardens took over the space for a few years. (I'm not sure if it was affiliated with the longtime restaurant with the same name in Sandusky.)

After that, none other than Mister Donut was in there from about 1975 until the early 1980's. (Strangely, I don't remember that at all – but don't forget, I was a big Bob's Donuts fan.)

From around 1984 on, the kitchen was pretty much closed at 4650 Oberlin Avenue, with City Loan & Savings Company (also known as City Loan Bank and City Loan Financial) occupying the space. Very briefly, Xena's Restaurant returned the building to its original purpose from around 1999 until the early 2000's.

At least one more non-food related business was located there until Dr. Paul J. Alton, O.D. moved in.

And what about Lum's? The chain fell upon hard times when its parent company filed for bankruptcy in the early 1980's. Today there is reportedly one restaurant that is still open, in Bellevue, Nebraska.

You can find Lum's items pretty easily on Ebay, and if you Google the name, you'll find that a lot of people still have fond memories of those hotdogs steamed in beer, as well as their Ollie Burgers.

17 comments:

Ken said...

I would have said Mr.Donut, where we stopped off after many a Saturday night gig. I had forgotten about Lum's. I don't know if the dogs were any good or not, but we sure liked the idea of eating hot dogs steamed in beer!

Dan Brady said...

If Lum's restaurants were around today, you'd probably have to show some I.D. before ordering the suds-soaked frankfurters!

Ken said...

And a designated driver restricted to non-alcoholic dogs.

Randall said...

Hmmm Lums - surprising I do not remember it. But our family didn't go out to restaurants frequently. They picked up Sandy's once in a while, and of course Yala's every sunday night. Disney at 7:30 don't you know!

Now donuts were a different matter. Every Sunday after church Grandpa would pick up a dozen - usually from DeLucas right near the church, but sometimes from Dunkin Donuts on 58 or the Mister Donut you profile here. Sadly, health issues keep me from enjoying too many donuts now, but back then...pass a jelly-filled please!

Ken said...

Mr. Donut had the best "filled" donuts there ever were. I referenced earlier that the wedding band I was in used to go there for a late night snack-- but we knew we better be sober because Mr.Donut would be full of cops! The true mark of do-nutly goodness.

Dan Brady said...

Hi Randall!

Our family was a big fan of Sandy's too.... never McDonalds. Nothing like a good flattened hamburger with hot, wet pickle!

As for donuts, don't forget Amy Joy's by Midway Mall (it was right where Lowe's is now, I believe.) Really good cream-filled. But I'm still partial to Bob's, which we sold as part of a cub scout project door to door (taking orders and then delivering).

Randall said...

Bob's Donuts! I couldn't remember having those - then you mentioned the cub scout donut drives - were those the jelly filled donuts (strawberry?) with the thick white icing?

Don Boyd said...

Thank you for the decency to give me a link when using the Lum's photo! You're a good man!

Dan Brady said...

Yup, Randall--Bob's Donut's had the jelly donuts with the thick slab of white frosting on top! Yum!

Randall said...

Those are the ones! I never knew where they were from - I loved them though - and if I remember correctly they were just as good days later. thanks for the memories - one more mystery solved!

-Alan D Hopewell said...

Bob's also had really great chocolate chip cookies, with slivers of nuts in them.

Anonymous said...

lums.. met my prom date there in 1970!!!

Anonymous said...

maple cream sticks and chocolate milk

pat said...

Does anyone have pictures of other old Lorain landmarks, example: Jupiter's on Broadway... any of the now defunct grocery stores (Meyer Goldbergs or A&P's?). I'd love to see some old shots of those places...How about the old McDonalds on Colorado in Lorain? The one with the outdoor walk up window and the huge arches? Would LOVE to see these!

Sharon Diane said...

My family moved to Oberlin Ave. in 1955 when there was still a lot of empty land. My mother and I used to pick blackberries in the field next to First Federal Savings and watch pheasants from our picture window. I remember and ate at all of the restaurants that are named here. Italian Gardens was an Italian buffet. Mr. Donut was good (and convenient), but nothing topped Bob's! I believe the jelly filling was raspberry.

Anonymous said...

Xenas Family Restaurant was open before 1999.

Dan Brady said...

Thanks for the timeline information about Xenas Family Restaurant. I rely on City Directories and phone books for my approximate dates, and it's possible to be about 2 years off sometimes, depending on when the business opened, and just missed being in the phone book or directory.