Detroit has been home to many famous restaurants in the past century. Gone but not forgotten are influential places like the Ponchatrain, Roma Café, and Topinka’s to name a few momentous restaurants from days of old. The Machus Red Fox was another influential, Detroit bistro; infamous for being the last place Jimmy Hoffa, former Teamsters’ Union president, was seen alive before he “disappeared”!
The London Chop House was yet another historical Detroit eatery (owned by the Gruber brothers), where many famous, elite people dined. “The Chop”, as it was called, went through some really hard times in the 1980s, finally closing its doors in 1991. However, it was re-opened in 2012 by a new owner, gambling on nostalgia to re-kindle what once was. So far, even throughout the past 19 months of Covid-based restrictions, it’s paid off!
Mom developed a few imitations from each of these famous places’ selections, but that’s not all. Department store dining rooms were another niche in the food industry, from which Mom found inspiration, imitating “famous foods from famous places”.
DepartmentStoreHistory.net claims: “The three biggest department stores in the mid-1960s, both in sales volume and physical size, were Macy’s, Hudson’s, and Marshall Field, in that order.”
The mention of Hudson’s (a former Detroit icon) particularly brought back many wonderful childhood memories of shopping and dining with my mom and sisters, in the 1970s. Hudson’s was one of Mom’s favorite department stores! In fact, she imitated about three dozen offerings from its dining room and bakery. They were famous for their Maurice Salad. Here’s a re-share of Mom’s imitation.
Likewise, Alex Witchell wrote an article (Feb. 25, 2019) about the best department store restaurants, which I found at NYPost.com. In it, she reminisced about those by-gone days of shopping and lunching with her own mom and sisters. Of course, I related to a lot of it. Another great read, about department stores with amazing restaurants, is by Katherine Martinelli (July 20, 2018), at EatThis.com.
FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
As seen in…
The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes© Book (Secret RecipesTM, Marysville, MI; June 1997, p. 16)
HUDSON’S OF DETROIT – THE WAY IT ONCE WAS!
During the financial panic of 1873, Joseph L. Hudson was a young man, working with his father in a men’s clothing store in Michigan. Times were hard. Customers couldn’t pay their bills. After Joseph’s father died, partly from worrying, young Joseph struggled with the business for about three years and eventually went into bankruptcy, in spite of all he tried to do to bring the business up.
He paid his creditors 60 cents on the dollar and, with great determination, began over again! Through remarkable enterprise and ingenuity, in 12 years, he owned a store in Detroit. Even more remarkable, he located all the creditors whose claims had been erased by the bankruptcy proceedings and paid them in full – even though they did not ask it of him.
This so astounded the business world, in 1888, that Hudson’s reputation as an honest man, caring for his customers as much is his creditors, that word spread and the store became one of Detroit’s most important, not only in the state, but eventually in the entire country.
He established major shopping centers in metropolitan Detroit, beginning in 1953 with the magnificent Northland Center, the first of its kind in the country. At the time of this writing , Hudson’s, merged with Dayton and with Marshall Fields, no longer offers the personal hometown touch that it used to have…
Their original building on Woodward and Farmer Street, in downtown Detroit, once controlled the shopper’s mecca with Kern’s and Crowley’s, as well, in that area. We have seen the passing of a great institution, but I am so glad I did not lose the precious recipes [for which] the Hudson’s dining room and bakery were known…
When Mom used to take me and my sisters to the malls and department stores it was an all-day “working” and shopping event, combined! Each of us girls would get a handful of Mom’s business cards and, while we shopped, we’d stick them in various places throughout the stores.
I always thought it was so fun! It was a really innovative way to advertise locally to her target audience, which then was the homemaker, like herself. Mom found her inspiration for this marketing method from an interview she heard of an award-winning car salesman from the Detroit area.
MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
As seen in…
My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 43)
To make the mimeograph pay for itself, I even printed up my own business cards on it, using dime-store construction paper and then cutting the cards apart with scissors until I had neat little stacks of about 50 [each] and a total of 200-300 cards. These I distributed at the mall whenever and wherever we might be in one. Paul did not know I was doing this, at first, either, or he would’ve disapproved.
It was unprofessional and risky, but I thought anything was worth a try and what I could do ‘quietly’ until I could prove it was either a mistake or a benefit, would have to be my little secret. Well, actually, the kids were a part of that secret too.
I had heard an interview on TV or radio with ‘the world’s most successful salesman’, who was a Chevrolet salesman in Detroit and who believed heartily in business cards, placing them everywhere and anywhere that it was allowed.
From his story, I found it was easy to drop my card into the pocket of a bathrobe in the ladies’ wear [area of] the department stores and in the purses and tote bags, on public phone booth stands, [in] restaurant restrooms, even in cookbooks in the bookstores. From these, you’d be surprised, we DID hear from people who wanted to know about my recipes, which was the first experience I had with public response.
After a couple hours of shopping and “advertising”, we’d take a lunch break in one of the department stores’ dining rooms. While doing her “investigative review”, Mom always found something new, to mimic at home. Another notable “gone-but-not-forgotten” Detroit area restaurant is Stouffer’s. Long before the company became a frozen food empire, in 1946, it was first famous for its creameries and then for its restaurants; opening one in Detroit, in 1929.
Sanders, still famous for its sundae toppings and chocolate delicacies (but which is now owned by Kar’s Nuts), is another company that once had a famous eatery in Detroit, serving more than just sweet treats. Mom loved going there as a young girl to eat at their lunch counter. She developed at least 56 imitations from Sanders’ offerings.
AGAIN, MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
As seen in…
The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes© Book (Secret RecipesTM, Marysville, MI; June 1997, p. 38)
Fred Sanders was born in Biehl, Baden (Germany) in 1848 and brought to this country at the age of one… His father, a baker, settled his family in Peru, Illinois and it was there that Frederick learned his first baking lessons, after school and in the evenings. But his hopes went beyond what he viewed as the prosaic business of baking white bread and rolls.
At 17 years, he sailed for Germany to learn the secrets of confectionery and catering. With passport in hand, personally signed by William Seward, Secretary of State in the Lincoln Cabinet, he worked his way across the Atlantic as a ship’s baker.
He learned his trade rapidly in Karlsruhe. Within three years he opened his own small shop on a narrow street in Frankfurt. The shop prospered but his young wife, Rosa, wanted to return with him to America; where, after less than successful experiences in Philadelphia and Chicago, including being burned out by the great Chicago fire of 1871, Frederick finally came to Detroit.
They started all over again. With some misgivings, he opened the shop on the northeast corner of Woodward and State Streets – where the J. L. Hudson’s block was to rise later. With limited capital drained to outfit his shop, Frederick managed a loan from W. H. Edgar, founder of Edgar’s Sugarhouse.
Within a year, Frederick’s products were recognized as quality and he moved across Woodward, just north of Michigan Avenue, where he remained for many years and prospered. He created the first ‘soda’ as we know it today – and by accident, when some sweet cream softened. It was an instant success.
Once… a fan he used to cool his foods continually broke down. He called for someone to service the fan, which contained one of the first electric motors made. The electric shop sent over a young man to repair Mr. Sanders’ fan, and it is of interest to note that the young man’s name was Henry Ford. He fixed the fan – and it ‘stayed fixed’ – without causing Mr. Sanders any further interruptions in business.
Frederick Sanders brought his son-in-law, John Miller, into the business in 1900, taking him away from Colonel Goebel, the Detroit brewer. With this, the Sanders Company’s success was certainly charted. Concurrently, the business became a partnership, shortly after the founder’s death in 1913, when John Miller and Frederick’s son, Edwin, and his grandson became the company’s chief officers and owners. In 1970, Sanders had more than 50 of their own stores and over 300 departments in supermarkets.
Since this is National Apple Month and National Dessert Month, plus, Thursday is National Dessert Day – here’s Mom’s imitation of “Apple Crisp, Like Holiday Inn’s” [from the 1960s]; as seen in her self-published cookbook… The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes© Book (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; June 1997, p. 13).
P.S. Food-for-thought until we meet again, next Monday…
Some of October’s month-long drink/food-related celebrations include… Eat Better & Eat Together Month, National Applejack Month, National Bake and Decorate Month, National Caramel Month, National Cookie Month, National Pasta Month, National Pickled Peppers Month, National Pizza Month, National Popcorn Poppin’ Month, National Pork Month, National Pretzel Month, National Sausage Month, National Seafood Month, Pear and Pineapple Month, Rhubarb Month, Spinach Lovers Month, and Vegetarian Month!
Additional October observances that could be food-related include, among other things… Italian-American Heritage Month, National Fire Prevention Month, National Reading Group Month, National Go On A Field Trip Month, National Kitchen & Bath Month, Polish American Heritage Month, National Women’s Small Business Month, National Work and Family Month, and Self-Promotion Month!
Moreover, as the week of October 16th, this is also… National Food Bank Week!
Today is also… International Day of the Girl Child and National Sausage Pizza Day! Plus as the second Monday in October, it’s… Native American Day and Columbus Day, too! Plus, it’s the start of… National School Lunch Week! In honor, here’s a re-share of Mom’s secret recipes for Lunch Box Brownies With Fudge Cake Icing!
October 13th is… National Train Your Brain Day, National Yorkshire Pudding Day, and National Take Your Parents To Lunch Day (which changes annually)! Plus, as the second Wednesday in October, it’s also… National Curves Day!
October 16th is… National Sports Day, National Liqueur Day, National Dictionary Day, Global Cat Day, and Department Store Day! Plus, as the third Saturday in October, it’s also… National Sweetest Day!
…41 down and 11 to go!