Screw You, Food Court! When Department Store Restaurants Reigned
Anybody who is under a certain age will not remember how mall department stores once ruled the retail roost. Before their peak and then eventual decline in the 1980s, these massive shopping cubes, which often went by a single name moniker (Alexander’s, Dalton’s, Gottschalk’s, etc.), were the place to buy everything from clothing to books and sporting goods.
To keep the shoppers imprisoned in the store for the longest period of time, these stores usually had a self-contained restaurant. They ranged from the Heather House, with its white tablecloth veneer of fanciness, to the Kmart Family Cafeterias, where, in 1977, you could dine on a full Salisbury Steak meal, with potatoes, gravy, mixed vegetables, roll and butter for only $1.08.
Vista Restaurant, Yorkdale Mall, Toronto – 1960s
Credit: John Chuckman