Friday, January 13, 2012

Mister S Grand Opening – June 26-28, 1964

You might remember that a week ago I posted some of Sue Slutzker's reminisces about the Mister S Drive-In, the business that her father and some other family members and partners started.

Since she had mentioned that her family's involvement with the restaurant dated back to 1964, I decided to hit the newspaper microfilm at the Library and see what I could find out as to when the place actually opened.

It turns out that the informal opening of Mister S was the weekend of June 6, 1964. The small article above had a nice photo of the distinctive building and its memorable sign with the colorful, rotating S. What's interesting is that it says that it was the pilot store for the chain.

Also in the newspaper that same day was the very first advertisement for the chain. You can tell it's an early one, because the logo isn't quite the final version yet.

Almost three weeks later, the upcoming Grand Opening buzz began to appear in the Journal. An article that appeared on Wednesday, June 24, 1964 revealed that the chain had national aspirations, and that the franchise for the restaurant had been obtained from Commissary Corp in Wooster, Ohio, originators of Dairy Isle ice cream drive-ins.

"Plans are under way for nationwide coverage with over 35 locations already surveyed and approved in Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois and New York," stated the article. It also noted that negotiations were being completed for several more units to be built in the northern Ohio area.

On Thursday, the following full-page ad appeared, promoting the Grand Opening on Friday, June 26, 1964.

I'm impressive with all of the great promotional gimmicks that were employed, with free large drinks, the chances to receive one of 500 free chicken dinners, free balloons and a live broadcast by Bob Lee of W-WIZ.

Finally, on Friday this ad drummed up even more enthusiasm.

The ad was the first to feature the true corporate branding (can you tell I'm in advertising?) with line art of the sign, as well as the final logo design. It also explains that the S stands for Smiling Speedy Service.

On Saturday, this ad appeared. No wonder Sue remembered those chicken dinners in her reminisces – they were one of the main items on the menu.

All in all, a very impressive promotional campaign to launch the Mister S chain! It's a shame that the chain didn't take off (especially with the pilot store in Lorain), but it's not too surprising. Many other chains went up against the McDonalds and Burger King juggernauts and ultimately couldn't compete.

The Mister S brand disappeared in Lorain around the mid-1980's. Today, the restaurant building is home to Gyros & More.


-Alan D Hopewell said...

We had the pilot store? WAYCOOL!

n8h@wk said...

I read your post on Gyro's and More. When I grew up in Lorain it was known as The Gyro House. I used to eat there all the time and loved it.

Anonymous said...

I grew up with Mister S and my parents would take me there after church every Sunday.
There burgers were just as good as McDonalds if not better.
There iconic "S" sign would have a three different color "S" and two would spin making a kaleidoscope effect. I had to leave Lorain because of the recession and was shocked to come home and find it had closed. Casey's Drive In was the other favorite. It's all like a dream until I seen this web page. I was privileged to be around in the 60s and 70s to experience these places. Wish I could go back in time and experience it again. Thanks.