"Cafeteria" style restaurants - Luby's, Piccadilly, Morrison's, etc.

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Xarpho

You crack me up, clown.
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In the Southern U.S., there used to be a type of fairly common restaurant called a "cafeteria", which was where you could order a plate of food from behind a glass counter, and people would serve what you wanted, you paid for it, and then sat down. There's some similar restaurants out there with conceptually identical layouts (like Chipotle, Subway, the IKEA restaurants, or other ethnic options) but the true cafeteria restaurants, usually part of a chain and serving U.S. southern cuisine (fried fish, mac and cheese, chicken fried steak, vegetables, rolls, and usually a few flavors of Jell-O) are a dying breed. Luby's was once the largest of these chains; in 2000 they had over 200 restaurants across 10 states, today they have just 32 in Texas (down from 177). Morrison's and Piccadilly have also shrunk, and many of the independents that served a similar menu have vanished.

Personally, I've never eaten at one in years (and the local Luby's closed several years ago), but I have a hankering for Southern cuisine (especially the more intriguing, less-loved items like liver and onions) and the idea of a non-fast food restaurant where you don't have to tip is appealing to me.
 

Mameshiba

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My family always loved going out to dinner to Morrison's on the weekends when I was little, but it closed here a very long time ago. Also used to have a Piccadilly in my city that was tucked away in the basement of a strip mall (yes, really) but that closed a couple of years ago too. Probably because no one could find it. Up until it shut down I went there pretty often on my way home from work, because it was well run and the food was always cheap and solid.

It's really a shame cafeterias are a dying breed. I prefer that style way more than shit like buffets.
 

Ramborambo

Rainbow Monkey Dildo Story Hour
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Schlumberger HQ in Sugarland has this exact style of arrangement, southern food and everything, (or at least they did in 2010-2012) but that's the global hq for one of the largest oil field operations corporations in the world. When I was privileged enough to attend such an environment, everything was comped or charged to the company account I don't remember exactly which. I could only imagine what such a thing would cost out of pocket. Aside from that and a very small handful of other corporate venues, I've never actually come across a legit "cafeteria" style restaurant out in the wild. But based on my experience (which I'm almost positive isn't 100% the same as a public restaurant setting) it was entirely enjoyable and I wish these types of arrangements were more common.
 

Euler's identity

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Luby's was once the largest of these chains; in 2000 they had over 200 restaurants across 10 states, today they have just 32 in Texas (down from 177). Morrison's and Piccadilly have also shrunk, and many of the independents that served a similar menu have vanished.
It seems George Hennard was really bad for business.
 

Xarpho

You crack me up, clown.
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It seems George Hennard was really bad for business.
George Hennard happened in the early 1990s, and even the restaurant in question stayed open for another decade. Most of the decay was caused by a cost-cutting CEO and later vulture capitalists who had no interest in running a restaurant a business, hence, why 90% of their restaurants vanished.

It's weird how no one talks about George Hennard. His hatred for women and minorities seems like it would be something the media would hype up or something that /r9k/ would idolize but he's all but forgotten even as the Columbine guys from just 8 years later are still jerked off over.
 

Agarathium1066

My sense of balance is busted.
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I haven't thought about Piccadilly in a long damn time, though that's because I do not live with my family and I doubt many of those places would even be open any longer. The name immediately brings to mind the quite sizeable dessert cups of brightly colored jello squares, surprisingly okay food, and marveling at how long the big line of foodstuffs seemed to me at the time.

We'd always go to the Piccadilly after a trip to an actual mall or shopping area, like the Sam's club. Couldn't do that often because we were pretty poor so it always stood out. Won't go into too much memories because this isn't 'PL about your childhood memories'.

Sort've glad they aren't around anymore, I think I'd just find all their food mediocre for the price and it would slap down my perception of it.

Oh and one more that wasn't listed here, Western Sizzlin'. It really was just a cafeteria with a goofy cow on its logo, it too was powerfully mediocre but I remember liking the salad bar.
 

XYZpdq

fbi most wanted sskealeaton
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Only one I can think of having been to since my balls dropped is Ikea.
Seems like they fell by the wayside in favor of just straight buffet style.
 
Cafeterias are the best way to expose somebody to Southern food who doesn't know anything about it. They offer the selection which most resembles what traditional family dinners look like.

There's also meat-and-three restaurants that aren't cafeterias but offer the same sort of food, though, and buffets. Shoney's is a particularly prominent buffet that doesn't advertise itself as Southern but serves a thoroughly Appalachian selection of dishes.
 

Euler's identity

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George Hennard happened in the early 1990s, and even the restaurant in question stayed open for another decade. Most of the decay was caused by a cost-cutting CEO and later vulture capitalists who had no interest in running a restaurant a business, hence, why 90% of their restaurants vanished.

It's weird how no one talks about George Hennard. His hatred for women and minorities seems like it would be something the media would hype up or something that /r9k/ would idolize but he's all but forgotten even as the Columbine guys from just 8 years later are still jerked off over.
Yeah, agreed. There's not many documentaries about the shooting or anything like that. Surprising, given his views and the number of casualties.
 

Save Goober

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I forgot Luby's existed. Even as a kid I found the environment dismal, and I thought that golden corral was amazing so my standards weren't high. Maybe I found the cafeteria set up awkward, my relatives seemed to like it but they also just like cheap stuff.
 
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Solid Snek

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George Hennard happened in the early 1990s, and even the restaurant in question stayed open for another decade. Most of the decay was caused by a cost-cutting CEO and later vulture capitalists who had no interest in running a restaurant a business, hence, why 90% of their restaurants vanished.

It's weird how no one talks about George Hennard. His hatred for women and minorities seems like it would be something the media would hype up or something that /r9k/ would idolize but he's all but forgotten even as the Columbine guys from just 8 years later are still jerked off over.
George who?
 

Fucky Chucky

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I remember one of those restaurants. I don't know what to do but I am pretty certain that I will never eat at one of them again. The peak or our society has passed. Now we need to prepare our children for the drop. Ourselves too. Guess how interesting "accountant" will be post collapse. I'm gonna be fine because we're still going to need smart people but things will be pretty but Yeah, I'm going to be going pretty strong until the Whatever gets me. Maybe its a broken leg, maybe a hoard of zombies, maybe your just fucked.

Maybe, just maybe you're competing against me and the Mormons and you'd be lucky to starve to death because everyone told you this could happen. Save up food you stupid mother fuckers.
 

OrionBalls

Macho Mochi Man!
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There's one that I know of in the larger city where I lived, that's still holding on. Independently owned place. The culinary school had one. Food was great! But the school closed down, and now the building is condos. Both places served "northern" food. Like kielbasa and pierogi and meatballs ragu.
 

RabidWombat

The Lone Marsupial of the Apocalypse
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We had a Picadilly's until about 13 years ago near here. It was bizarre, man, it was red carpeting on the floor AND walls, and every inch of it was swords and other medieval weaponry as decor, along with suits of armor.

Food was legit though. Never had better mashed potatoes and gravy anywhere.
 

HandsomeDan

Longing for 1861...
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I used to love these kind of places, great fried chicken, hamburger steak, great plate lunches. There is nowhere left to get this type of lunch counter food. People think this food is not sophisticated enough now. Imagine that.
 

._.

Oats, groats and scrotes.
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I used to love these kind of places, great fried chicken, hamburger steak, great plate lunches. There is nowhere left to get this type of lunch counter food. People think this food is not sophisticated enough now. Imagine that.
Im gonna argue with you, as someone who had to grow up going to them with my grandma--they werent terrible but I could see how the "foodie" generation would be repulsed by the "school cafeteria lunch line" way they work. People dont like going to the cafeteria at their own office jobs I think, nobody younger than the greatest generation is going to fondly remember food lines and shit as a normal dining experience, and its not that its not sophisticated, its more that it's mostly generic diner food (that I feel like you can get basically at Sams Club or Costco now) and church pot-luck sort of meals, so people maybe feel like "Yeah its nothing special".

Plus the place was kinda depressing, it always gave me vibes of that Edward Hopper painting Dinner at the Nighthawks; if the Nighthawks restaurant had the atmosphere of a picked-over, lukewarm buffet at a cheap motel with early 90s "Furniture Liquidation Emporium" decor, that you pull into at like 2 am after driving all day on a road trip.

Honestly trying to remember the last Lubys I went to and really just in my head I somehow visioned Dan Bell slowly walking through a dead mall; the grey, old carpets, the outdated furniture, the wood handles everywhere and wood benches and fake plants and divider walls, and the specific lighting even if they had a lot of windows, all facing out to just a big, half empty strip mall parking lot. Also that made me kind of think, maybe the mall food courts supplanted the space that Lubys and these cafeteria type places used to fill for a certain generation.
 

Pop pop fizz fizz

Oh, what a relief it is!
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This thread tickled my memory, so I had to search, and I'm pretty sure I've eaten at a place called MCL Cafeteria at least once in Columbus and once in Indianapolis.
It seems like it was a thing that was quintessential Americana.
It was alright, but a obviously very forgettable experience. Would I go again? Probably.
 

HandsomeDan

Longing for 1861...
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Im gonna argue with you, as someone who had to grow up going to them with my grandma--they werent terrible but I could see how the "foodie" generation would be repulsed by the "school cafeteria lunch line" way they work. People dont like going to the cafeteria at their own office jobs I think, nobody younger than the greatest generation is going to fondly remember food lines and shit as a normal dining experience, and its not that its not sophisticated, its more that it's mostly generic diner food (that I feel like you can get basically at Sams Club or Costco now) and church pot-luck sort of meals, so people maybe feel like "Yeah its nothing special".

Plus the place was kinda depressing, it always gave me vibes of that Edward Hopper painting Dinner at the Nighthawks; if the Nighthawks restaurant had the atmosphere of a picked-over, lukewarm buffet at a cheap motel with early 90s "Furniture Liquidation Emporium" decor, that you pull into at like 2 am after driving all day on a road trip.

Honestly trying to remember the last Lubys I went to and really just in my head I somehow visioned Dan Bell slowly walking through a dead mall; the grey, old carpets, the outdated furniture, the wood handles everywhere and wood benches and fake plants and divider walls, and the specific lighting even if they had a lot of windows, all facing out to just a big, half empty strip mall parking lot. Also that made me kind of think, maybe the mall food courts supplanted the space that Lubys and these cafeteria type places used to fill for a certain generation.
You do have a point and they were always full of elderly people. The decor was depressing as well. My point is that there is nothing wrong with Lunch Counter food, which was usually a large portion for not much money. There is nowhere to get "non trendy" food like this anymore.
 
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