It doesn’t look like much in this black and white photo: just another store with an awning in downtown Glace Bay. For me though, it was the first place I got to go that was a restaurant. Inside was a food counter, and my mom (Ma) would take me there as a kid and she might get a club sandwich and I would likely get a coke float. The idea of going someplace to eat felt special to me and I learned to love that feeling from going there.
It may seem underwhelming to you as an adult, but as a kid, pulling up in one of those seats, being given a menu to choose what you want, and then having one of the ladies (it was always women) get it for you was amazing. Plus I never got to have coke floats outside of there, at least not for a long time, so that made it a special treat.
The Woolworth’s of Glace Bay is long gone. Later when I moved to Toronto there was one on Bloor near Bathurst and I used to go and get taken back home for a spell. Just like having a coke float takes me back to when I was a kid, sitting at that counter, sipping my drink with a straw, being happy.
This string of posts on restaurants loved and lost will be ending soon for me. But before I do, I wanted to mention another place of my youth: the Midtown Tavern in Halifax. It still exists, but the version I loved and lost was in downtown Halifax (see below). When I was in university, I would go there the few times I had some cash and get some draught beer and steak. The meat was thin and well done, but it was cheap, and the combo of the beef and the beer made me feel wealthy. It was unlike any other place in Halifax for students drinking beer. You could be a fool in other establishments, but act that way in the Midtown and their no nonsense waiters would toss you out on your ear. We were well behaved in the Midtown. In some ways it was a rite of passage where we learned to behave as much as anything else.
I loved both those places when I was young, just like I loved Mike’s Lunch in Glace Bay. They may have seemed like everyday places to some, but they left an indelible mark on me and think of them often, and with great affection.
All images you see are links. The top image is from Commercial Street_Glace Bay_Cape Breton_1965_Black Diamond Pharmacy_F.W. Woolworths. There’s also a great story in the piece I found the second image: Debbie Travels – Reviews and more: Midtown Tavern Halifax – End of an Era! A great story plus it has lots more photos of the Midtown.
P.S. I wanted to write about one other restaurant loved and lost from my youth: Fat Frank’s. When I was going to university I never had much money. I would constantly see the same ad for Fat Frank’s restaurant, and each time I saw it I thought: when I have money, I am going to eat there. It was my dream. For Fat Frank’s was one of the finest places to eat in all of the Maritimes.
Alas, it closed before I ever got to go. I never got to go inside nor eat any of its fine food. Even now it is elusive: I have a hard time finding images and stories of it on the Internet. The closest I can get is this 1976 review Craig Claiborne in the New York Times. And this blog has a shot of Spring Garden Road: Fat Frank’s would have been in one of those brick buildings on the right, I believe.
I never got to live the dream, but I dreamt about it for a long time…. an unrequited love, for a place now long gone.