Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Harvest House Cafeteria – Part 1

It was just a month ago on this blog that we were discussing the stores and businesses that were part of Midway Mall when it opened in 1966. One of them was Harvest House Cafeteria.

You can part of its illuminated sign at the far left of the above photo.

The Harvest House Cafeterias were owned and operated by Woolworth’s. According to the book, Remembering Woolworth’s: A Nostalgic History of the World’s Most Famous Five-and-Dime by Karen Plunkett-Powell, “During the 1960s, Woolworth’s also introduced Harvest House restaurants in American shopping malls, and Red Grilles in their Woolco stores. By then, approximately eighty percent of F. W. Woolworth variety stores were equipped with some type of eatery. Some had small counters seating ten, while others could seat over 300. There were stand-up counters, sit-down counters, full-fledged cafeterias, bakeries, and simple soda fountains.”

Although cafeterias are still perfectly at home in schools, colleges and hospitals, it’s strange (and a little quaint) to think of cafeterias as a dinner option for mall shoppers back then. But it was a successful business model, and an economical choice for shoppers as well. I’m surprised the concept hasn’t made a comeback.

Here’s an ad for the Midway Mall Harvest House that ran in the Lorain Journal on January 6, 1967. (I suppose today the clown in the ad would be a no-no; too scary!)
As you can see, the ad template was adapted for each location. Here’s the same ad customized for Cherry Hill Mall and Moorestown Mall in Moorestown, New Jersey.
I only remember eating at the Midway Mall Harvest House once or twice. I don’t know what the occasions were, but I think I was dressed up.

Anyway, the Midway Mall Harvest House lasted right into the 1990s. Sadly, both the restaurant and the Woolworth’s store both disappeared beginning with the 1994 edition of the Elyria City Directory.

Tomorrow: A Look Inside a Harvest House

10 comments:

Dennis Thompson said...

Where was it in the Mall? There were some eateries that were not in the food court. I remember the gyro place near the north entrance but it didn't last very long.

Rick Kurish said...

I'm pretty sure that the Woolworth/Harvest House location was the retail space that later became Best Buy.

Mark said...

Yes - Woolworth's was where best buy is now. I remember eating at the counter - I really liked their frozen cokes. Those are days long gone by.

Anonymous said...

I also believe it was where Best Buy is currently but extended all the way down to Sears. Woolworth's was the first space coming out of Sears followed by the Harvest House. It was always a treat to get a frozen coke from Woolworth's before we left the mall. Now you can get them just about anywhere.

Dennis Thompson said...

Do any of you remember an early Chick-fil-A in the mall, or am I thinking of another mall? It was just with the stores also. I *think* it was across from the gyro place. I remember looking at the Chik-Fil-A sign and trying to figure out what it meant since I was pronouncing the final A as "ah" instead of a long a. This is going back to the 1960s or early 1970s.

Lisa said...

Dennis, I think you may be remembering a different mall. I was a frequent visitor of Midway Mall from the time it opened. Harvest House holds fond memories of my family and paternal grandmother eating there every month or so. We'd grab a tray and slid down the line, asking servers in hair nets to slice whatever meat we wanted, sides of mashed potatoes, green beans (which were delicious), etc. To drink, I generally got a grape pop, like a Grape Nehi. Can't imagine drinking that now.

Dan Brady said...

That’s a nice reminisce, Lisa.

I agree that it was probably a different mall with the Chick-fil-A. Until the food court was put in much later, I don’t remember any fast food outlets (except maybe for pretzels). I was a big fan of the frozen cokes at Woolworths too!

Anonymous said...

I got a hamster from Woolworth's! Remember when stores like Woolworth's, Kmart, and Big Town had pet sections with fish, birds, and rodents?

Lisa said...

Yes, I was about to post earlier that I remember a pet section in Woolworth's. My sister worked the food counter in a light teal uniform.

Anonymous said...

I remember JCPenney had a nice little restaurant, where their hair salon is now. And there also was Friendly's.