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Schrafft's: 1948

Schrafft's: 1948

June 9, 1948. New York. "Schrafft's, Esso Building, Rockefeller Center. 51st Street exterior. Carson & Lundin architects." Ubiquitous in urban areas, slightly upscale, tastefully decorated -- Schrafft's was something like the mid-century restaurant version of Starbucks. Gottscho-Schleisner photo. View full size.

 

Mom Worked There

My mom worked at the Charlestown Schraffts factory in the early 60's. She told me stories about poking the chocolates in the boxes with her finger coming down the conveyer belt. One time her Aunt received a box and some of the chocolates had finger pokes. Coincidence??

She also told me that one time Jimmy Durante came to the factory for an event. She sat with him at the piano, I think to turn the sheet music. I've always wondered if there are photos out there of this. I have no clue where I would even begin in looking for them. Ideas?

The Tender Trap

Watching it last night on TCM, one of the characters said "He's taking me to Radio City Music Hall, and afterwards, if it's not to late, we're going to Schrafft's." This one, no doubt.

Schrafft's Factory, Charlestown, Mass.

My mother and grandmother grew up just a few blocks from the Schrafft's candy factory and offices at the base of Bunker Hill in Charlestown, Massachusetts. The huge building (now the Schrafft Center commercial office building) is a great landmark, the neon sign still in place and shining bright!

Perhaps not quite so ubiquitous

This is interesting: I am familiar with the name but never realized Schrafft's were know for whole restaurants. I only knew them from their boxed fine chocolates and candies. Such confections were only available at the finer downtown department stores as I recall, Pizitz or maybe Loveman's in Birmingham. Perhaps Schrafft's restaurants were not as "ubiquitous" in the South. We always went to Britling's cafeteria anyway. But it was still a "dress-up" occasion.

Graduation Lunch

This was the exact Schrafft's where our 8th Grade class had our graduation lunch in 1974. We sat upstairs.

Raise High the Roofbeam, Carpenters

Is this the Schrafft's that Buddy Glass took wedding guests to after his brother ditched Muriel at the altar?

1948 Modernism

Even the revolving door, the overhead lights, the stainless steel, the plate glass, it all looks as modern as today.

But ...

But Schrafft's was just NICER . . .

75 Rockefeller Plaza

Still there, nearly unchanged.

From Google streetview: http://goo.gl/maps/yg7X8

Great storefront design.

Pretty contemporary look even for 1948. Rectilinear look. Huge expanse of clean sleek glazing and framing. Inside we see recessed can lights and more modern glazing details on the clerestory window wall.

I Remember Schrafft's

When I was a lot younger, my mother used to take me to Schrafft's in Wellesley Hills Square, Massachusetts, for a hot fudge sundae, which, with no nuts, was my favorite.
Thanks, Dave.

WoW just WoW

So mid-century. Just love it!

Applebee's and Oranges.

Schrafft's definitely cannot be called an upgraded Starbucks. Unless Starbucks intend to serve a full menu, it wont even come close. The correct comparison would be an upgraded Applebee's.

[That's why I said "RESTAURANT version of Starbucks." Applebee's is pretty much nonexistent in most downtowns. - Dave]

However, here in Manhattan, there's one on 42nd St between 7th & 8th Avenues and another on 50th St & Broadway.

Things I didn't know

Despite my family all coming from that part of the country (NJ/NY/New England), I'd not ever heard of Schrafft's. So, in case you're in the same boat, here's some more information on what must have been a truly great place to visit:

The fantastic Vanishing New York blog.

A 2008 NYT article with then/now pictures.

Little Old Ladies from Scarsdale

Back in the '40s-'60s, parties of same often lunched at Schrafft's prior to taking in a matinee performance of some innocuous book musical or other.

Auntie Mame

"On our way to Bunny Bixler's—that's my friend who lives on Park Avenue and 71st Street—Patrick and I just stuffed ourselves at Schrafft's! Do you know what your silly nephew did? He spoke French to the counterman! Imagine anybody speaking French to a counterman ... at Schrafft's?"

Close to Home

My father worked for Standard Oil/Esso/Exxon for 42 years.
(He met my mother there, working for Standard Oil's cosmetics firm - Dagget and Ramsdell.)

He worked in this building, formerly the US Rubber Building, before the Exxon Building was built, before they moved to NJ, and then to Houston.

Schrafft's was my mother's favorite lunch out.

My father referred to having had lunch at "Scraps."

 
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