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Cafe Society: 1941

Cafe Society: 1941

December 1941. "Hot Shoppe restaurant. Washington, D.C." A smoking Hot Shoppe. Medium-format nitrate negative by John Collier. View full size.


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Pentagon Hot Shoppes

Recently I saw a TV documentary on J. Willard Marriott, who started out as the owner of Hot Shoppes, and recall they had one photo of a very popular Hot Shoppes restaurant that was smack dab in the middle of the land that now is occupied by the Pentagon.

My parents' hangout

These kids are dressed up because they likely stopped here after a dance or other event. I doubt they got all dolled up to go to the Hot Shoppe.

Glad To See

I'm not the only one that remembers ordering a Mighty Mo with onion rings. Heavenly!

Give me that purse

I'm loving the little beaded evening bag on the table.

Who are you people?

And what have you done to all the Shorpy regulars? Before I clicked on the picture to see the comments, I expected the usual "look at all the beautiful women" reactions. Instead it's all about signs on the table, and what everybody's wearing, and "I used to go there". So okay, I'll man up and say it. Look at all the beautiful women.

Carry on.

At least one guy

Is married, from the looks of it (nearest to us).

Hot Shoppes coming back

After their Hot Shoppes Jr stores performed poorly, they rebranded as Roy Rogers. Their fried chicken recipe is based on the original Pappy Parkers recipe used in the original Hot Shoppes. The Marriott corporation is supposed to re-open a Hot Shoppes in the lobby of hte Marriott Marquis Hotel being built in downtown DC. It should open in 2014.


The dress code here seems pretty much the same as when I was the age of these folks, a quarter century later. We called it "semi-formal." It meant that the boys wore what they would wear to church on Sunday, and the girls dressed as if they were going to opening night at the opera. In retrospect it seems rather imbalanced. If the internet is any guide, in the intervening years confusion has crept into the male half of the semi-formal equation, which now covers everything from a business suit to a tux.

I seem to remember

when I was in the Marine Corps, stationed in Philadelphia in 1967, there was a Hot Shoppes version of McDonald's a couple of blocks over from my duty staion on Broad Street Called Jr. Hot Shoppes. They had some kind of Hill Billy logo, but could be misremembering that.

Hot Shoppes

Most Washingtonians probably have no idea how much the Hot Shoppes were part of the culture of DC. Starting as root beer stands in the 1930s, they grew into what was easily one of the most popular local restaurant chains in the US. I grew up in the DC area, living there from 1941 to 1965. I remember the Hot Shoppes as about the only restaurant my family went to regularly. In the 1950s, they had the Mighty Mo, an early version of the Big Mac. Other favorites were ice cream cake, onion rings, and hot roast beef sandwiches with fabulous mashed potatoes, garnished with two slices of a pickled beet. Oh my.

Hot Shoppes Bring Back Memories

In 1940/1 my father would ride the bus from his job in downtown DC and meet us for dinner at the Hot Shoppe at roughly 4340 Connecticut Ave, NW. Then we go to the Ice Palace skating rink across Conn Ave, which the Wash. Figure Skating club had rented for a few hours. The rink became the site of the WJLA-TV studios after WW2.

I worked at the National Bureau of Standards in the early 1960s and we'd walk down the hill and eat lunch at that same Hot Shoppe.

Those coin boxes at the table were for the juke box. Hot Shoppes chose the music, not the customer. Marriott had "standards". Do you remember the inspirational "Table Talk" publication at each table?

I'm really enjoying these Hot Shoppes photos

Grew up in the DC area and ate at a many a Hot Shoppe in DC, MD, and VA, from childhood to young adulthood during the '50's and '60's, until they started to disappear.

One thing that was unique to the Hot Shoppes was that the waitress (it usually was a waitress) didn't take your order in the usual way. Instead, your table was given a lined order slip and a pencil, along with the menus, when you were seated. You wrote your own selections on the order slip, and the waitress returned to your table to pick it up and take it to the kitchen. She would first read it back to you to make sure you didn't leave anything out!

My sister and I used to fight over who got to write everyone's orders on the slip.

I still miss the Hot Shoppes' Might Mo platters and hot fudge ice cream cake. They also had wonderful onion rings and chicken noodle soup.

A friend of my family was a Hot Shoppes waitress. I remember how much she earned - 50 cents an hour. Even as a kid, I thought that was peanuts. It was explained to me that she had to earn tips to supplement her salary, which I thought was exceptionally unfair. Hot Shoppes are long gone, but some things never change.

Re: Suction Cup?

It's the table number, viewed from side on.

Suction cup soup of the day?

The suction cup thingie looks like a card displaying an advertisement or specials at the restaurant... just like the tabletop pieces commonly encased in plastic today. The photographer is simply shooting it on end. The shadow cast looks a little too thick for it to be a stick.

Suction Cup?

Does anyone know what that thing is on the middle table? It looks like a black suction cup with a stick attached.

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