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Chez Philodendron: 1948

Chez Philodendron: 1948

June 9, 1948. "Schrafft's, Esso Building, Rockefeller Center, New York. Glass louvers, main dining room. Carson & Lundin, architect." The exterior seen here. Large-format acetate negative by Gottscho-Schleisner. View full size.


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First Job

Was just 18 and it was summer and I was a waitress at Schraffts. All the other waitresses were Irish, recently off the boat and with dazzling brogues. They were whip smart, fast and efficient, older than me, and with some contempt for my comparative slowness.

Each morning we had to line up like soldiers before the Chief to get our uniform checked out. The white blouse had to be snowy, the collar straight, the bow on the apron had to be tied just so, and the hair had to be worn up and stray-free. I don't remember ever wearing a net.

The tips were pretty good, the little free cheese toasts Schrafft's served free with some dishes, were eaten mostly by us! I lasted a month and then was glad to get an easier job at The city's Urban Corps, set up, I think by Mayor Lindsay, to employ us teens.


Schraffts food was better-than-average okay for lunch hour fare.

My father claimed to have invented iced coffee by explaining what he wanted to Schraffts, as a regular.

Stupid idea

Regarding the humorous comment by "pennsylvaniaproud", I have been to a few restaurants arranged like this and always found it annoying and irritating to be dining among perfect strangers who are all within earshot of whatever discussion one may be having with the person across the table. At one place in particular, a rather rude pair even boldly joined in, took over and monopolized our entire dining conversation. This type of seating is not welcome unless one is at an automat (I think they are all extinct) or a really cheap fast food eatery. I can't imagine who dreamed up this style of table placement or who would think it was desirable.

Schrafft's Cheese Bread Recipe, or close to it

Intrigued by AleHouseMug's comment, I found an article about the cheese bread recipe here.

Mid Century Modern

Note the ashtrays on the tables. Everybody smoked then and the high ceiling of the restaurant would have been obscured by cigarette smoke. It must have taken a toll on the plants. Looking at this photo along with the one of its exterior, with its bridal dolls and gaudy window display, this was a schizophrenic Schraffs. High modern meets high kitsch.

Hello Wall --

One-sided conversation for sure.


My father worked for Esso for 47 years. He ate there often, but if asked where he had lunch he would say "Scraps".

My mother was a fan of their ice cream sundaes. Their cheese bread is a long-lost recipe.

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