Elyria was in the news lately as it celebrated the 200th anniversary of its founding, so maybe it’s a good time for this post. It features an article that appeared in the Lorain Journal
on August 14, 1947 – 70 years ago this month – and it’s about a topic dear to my heart: coffee.
The article, written by Rhea Soper Eddy
, examines the fondness of Elyria’s business community back then for taking mid-morning coffee breaks at local eating establishments. The story also includes a little history of a restaurant run by brothers John and Spero Valassis.
‘It’s Coffee at 10’ For Folks in Elyria
Brothers Recall ‘Good Old Days’ When Prices Were
Lower; Eating Habits Changed
By RHEA SOPER EDDY
ELYRIA – Instead of “cocktails at 5” it’s “breakfast at 10” here in this county-seat.
Unlike some of the larger communities with their swanky afternoon cocktail hour, when friends meet to chat over an ice cold beverage which doesn’t necessarily have to be cocktails, many Elyrians declare recess around 10 a. m. and dash out for coffee and rolls.
Stop in at any of the many eating places around Elyria’s “square” and you’re lucky to find a place to sit down if it’s mid-morning.
“See you at So-and-So’s for coffee at 10” is a popular expression in this inland city, summer or winter. And that goes for office workers as well as the bosses.
Business As Usual
Of course, that doesn’t mean that offices and business places close just so the executives and their helpers can go out for a mid-morning snack. On the contrary, business goes on as usual, all taking turns at storing away a cup of coffee and a roll or doughnut sometime around 10 a. m.
According to John and Spero Valassis, brothers, who have operated an eating establishment on the square here since 1907, when most of their patrons were farmers who hitched their horses to posts out in front of the restaurant, many changes have taken place in man’s eating habits and the mid-morning snack is one of them.
But you cannot get either of the Valassis brothers to testify that the extra meal in the forenoon has anything to do with adding weight. In fact, they agree that most persons were even heavier back in the early 1900’s when they only ate three meals a day.
Eat More Salads
“Perhaps it’s because they eat more salads, fruits and non-fattening foods than they used to,” declared one of the restaurant partners.
“More likely it’s because they’re more weight-conscious and do more exercising,” contradicted the other.
At “breakfast at 10,” at one eating place here, 12 persons, both men and women, perched on stools at the counter, sipping coffee or soft drinks. The latter are substituted for the hot drink when the thermometer soars.
Occasionally a customer who is real hungry will add a roll or doughnuts. Many drink fruit juice along with coffee.
Elyria was a mere infant back when the Valassis brothers started in the restaurant business in the same room they now occupy. The population then was less than 6,000.
But a more striking contrast than population are the food prices, then and now. According to the restaurant, eggs in those days sold at eight and nine cents a dozen, the best grade of country butter was obtainable at 16 cents a pound. You could buy bread at 2 1/2 cents a loaf, pork chops were 10 cents and steaks 15 cents a pound.
Is it any wonder they call them “the good old days."