Lately, I’ve been playing a game with myself where I use Google Earth and Street view to attempt to spot former G.D. Ritzy’s locations. By virtue of the fact that I’m familiar with the rough outline of the one-time operating area, typical surroundings, and architecture, I’m pretty good at it.
The Huntington, West Virginia G.D. Ritzy's, as seen when I visited late last year.
G.D. Ritzy’s (sometimes just branded as Ritzy’s) was a chain of fast food restaurants that sprang up in Columbus, Ohio in the early eighties, and expanded outward, peaking at around 100 locations. The menu included the typical burgers and fries, but also unique items like steamed vegetables and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with the additions of fresh strawberry slices and crushed salted peanuts. They also offered several flavors of hard ice cream, usually made in-house. A strong emphasis was placed on food quality with a nostalgic bent. Buildings were built in a neo-art deco style, with rounded corners and flourishes on the outside, and lots of stainless railings and hexagonal tile on the inside. At the early locations, G.D. Ritzy himself, a mascot sporting a bowler hat, no doubt named for chain founder Graydon D. Webb, would be enjoying the sheer luxury of the the sign.
The sign outside the still-operating Huntington, West Virginia Ritzy's.
Aerial view of a former Ritzy's; note the rounded upper right corner of the building.
G.D. Ritzy's: We have the meats!
The real fun starts when there’s an atypical building that may have been a G.D. Ritzy’s. Such a find sparks speculation and debate over why this one location in particular was different. This extra large building with typical Ritzy's flourishes is one such example. I suspect this location may have had a large ice cream production and/or storage facility on site to service multiple nearby Ritzy's locations.
So much room for activities!
The best part is you can play this game with virtually any commonly reproduced distinctive building that is likely to have changed in purpose. Converted Hot 'n Nows, A-Frame IHOPs, Howard Johnson's, or Stuckey's are all fun to try and spot on Google Earth. Give it a try today!
You can't fool me with that fancy new facade, Papa John! You're making pizza in a Ritzy's!
You see a lot of Hot Head Burritos locations in Ohio. You used to see a lot of G.D. Ritzy's in Ohio. This is the point on the graph where their respective lines intersect.
The '90s comedian wants to say since there's a Starbucks on every corner, there might as well be one in an old Ritzy's.
The self-serve frozen yogurt trend claims a G.D. Ritzy's.