Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Alphabetical Broken Chain Directory

Photo Courtesy of the Orange County Archives

lliteration and assonance abound after abundant accounts of amazement about adventures abroad and appetizers I ate at Arthur Treacher’s and Azars. 

Brother, I was blown away by breakthroughs of bootleg Burger Chefs, brimming with beef bought at Bonanza, buzzed by Budweiser from Bennigan’s, but bummed by Big Boy’s buffet. Blimpie, by the by, baked bread while bums begged for beer at B-K. Ben Franklin bagged bountiful bric-a-brac, but blackberries from Backyard Burgers brought about bemusement. Barnrd’s bland beef, begat more bummers, but Big Cheese and Bakers Square were better than bad. 

Clancy’s cartoon cops and classic cooking contrasted Country School’s crummy chicken. I crossed a cavalcade of counties for Country Kitchen and a circus of cities for Cici’s and Central Park. 

Down the road, I dined at Don Pablo’s days before its demise, downed dogs at the Daly Drive In, Drove down to Druthers and droned-on about my dad’s date at Darryl’s. Dog ‘n Suds distributed different dogs, and Dutch Pantry did the same with dinner and donuts. I then devoured a dozen additional at Dawn Donuts and Donut Connection before I watched Detroit lose to Dallas at the dearly departed Damon’s north of Dayton. 

Eat ‘n Park evoked ethereal etchings of Elias Bros and Elby’s, and Empress Chili was the exemplar of all chili establishments from East Liverpool to Elizabethtown. Eating at Embers evoked the essence of Emily, Eunice, Ethel, Emma, Everett, Ensign, Evergreen, Englemein, and, Eskwagama, eight of eleven thousand lakes. 

Frostops in four states filled me with fixins and foam, and the Frisch’s franchise fed me fries and more fine food than Fyvush Finkle could flap a flounder at. 

Graydon’s grand G.D. Ritzy’s galvanized my globe-trotting to grizzled grills and generating glyphs about greens, grits, and gravy. Garfield’s guided me to a still-going Sam Goody. (Goody got it!) Going to Ground Round granted a glimpse of generational gustation, and Grandy’s got me grousing about great green gobs of greasy, grimy gopher guts.

Heck, my homeboy from historic Houston haunted the hallowed halls of House of Pies, and the chili at Happy Chef made Hormel seem heavenly. Howard Johnson hotels proved historic, if hellish. Hot ‘n Now, Halo Burger, and Henry’s hucked and hawked hamburgers by the hundreds while Horne’s and Hen House hang on as hackneyed and haggard highway hosts. 

Isaly’s intensity intimidated my initiative to imbibe ice cream despite being inviting and inversely inedible. 

Jovially, I judged my journey to Jerry’s far from jinxed. It left me joyous as Joan Jett, not jeering like J. Jonah Jameson. 

Kewpee is keen on kitschy kinder. Kuku keeps its kitchen kicking, while Kmart is keeling over, kind of killed. 

Look, on the lam like Lyle Lanley, I had a last look at Lone Star Steakhouse, now lost and lifeless. Likewise, Lucky Steer left me largely languid and feeling lucky to be leaving after lunch. 

Morrison’s Cafeteria made me miss my monotonous family mall meals, while Maid Rite, Miner Dunn, Mister Kwik, and Max and Erma’s manufactured masterpieces made of meat. I masticated Maryland Fried Chicken in Michigan, home of Marshall Mathers, and made haste to the last Mister Donut west of Manilla. I met the mistress of Minute Man, and MCL’s manager made a merry mood for me and my mate, Matty-Mark Matlock, but the mediocre meal made for a mammoth meh. 

Nickerson Farms, now not quite nonexistent; a neo-Nickerson’s nurtures nightly noshers and their Nissans, Nashes, and Novas just off ninety-six notwithstanding non-Nixonian nays from the nattering nabobs of negativism. 

Ollie’s Trolley was an ostentatious outhouse whose ostensible opulence omitted ottomans while Omelet Shoppe obliged my obsessions with the outpourings of overproducing ovaries. 

Pappy’s Family Pub produced pizza and poured pitchers of pilsner for the people of podunk Pennsylvania while Ponderosa proceeded to pillage my pockets and perturb my pancreas. Po’ Folks perniciously parodies pauperdom in Pensacola and Pinellas, sure as I plagiarized poetry from the pitter patter pals. 

Quarantine quietly quashed my quite quixotic and quirky quest to Quincy’s Family Steakhouse quicker than Quetzalcoatl in a Qvale. 

Rabidly, I reveled in the radiant and rampant roasts from Rax and Roy Rogers, and reviewed the rheostats and resistors at Radio Shack. Ritzee was as revolting as a rhombus is round, and my Roly Poly report is as ridiculous as Rita Rudner. 

Sweet Sally Struthers! Sears is sorrowfully and slowly sinking while Sirloin Stockade serves up slop from a silo. Spageddie’s was too late to be saved by the screeching singer of “Subdivisions,” and the single surviving Sign of the Beefcarver serves Salisbury steak and sides to the septuagenarians and the senile alike. Spudnuts slings sweet spirals. Shoney’s survives in the South, and Stuckey’s sells pecan sandies, super-unleaded, and seashells down by the seashore.  

True, I’ve traveled to two trios of Taco Ticos, but it took a trip toward Topeka to turn my tastes toward Taco Grande, who taught Taco Tico to turn out tasty, tangy tortillas topped with tomatoes and tallow. I totally took the time to try Tastee Freez too 

Utter unacceptability at Uncle John’s Pancake House underscored my umbridge with unheated bacon despite unique unicycles, ungainly umbrellas, and undergrown ukuleles upright on the walls.  

Verily, I’ve never ventured, in my Volvo, van, Volkswagen, nor any vehicle to visit the vestibule of a venture starting with V. 

Whistfully, I wandered a winding way to Wiener King, which was wonderful. White Tower, a White Castle wannabe wasn’t a waste, whilst Western Sizzlin was well worth the wampum. 

Xylophone Xavier’s Xiaolongbao Xanadu is a restaurant that never eXisted, but XXX Root Beer is eXtant. 

Yo, I yammered about yams, yeast, and yak served ye olde York Steak House, yielding to the yeomen of yesteryear. Youngish Yodelers on Yelp yelled, “Yum!”

Zoinks! With Zayres numbering zilch and zero Zeller’s left in the zone of Živojinović, I zoomed my Zamboni to Zantigo and zipped my Zimmer to Zesto for my zine.

Zestfully yours,


  1. A big congrats, Dear! Entirely fixated, greatly hallowed insights, justify knowledgeable lectures. My noted observations, put quietly, reveal some timely understanding,verified with Xander's yearning zeal.

  2. Is this the best recap ever, outside of a letterkenny cold open, season recap? That's a texas sized 10-4. Well freakin' done!

    1. Youse got the reference in my Letterkenny-inspired blog post, and that’s what I appreciates about you.

  3. Replies
    1. Fun fact, the comment above is the thousandth comment on Broken Chains.

  4. Reverend Zap
    Music to my ears that is making me hungry!

  5. hey zap, just recently found this blog and am loving it. As someone who wasnt even alive when most of these places were in their heyday, I find its a little like stepping back in time. Forgive me if this has already been covered, but have you ever considered visiting a pizza inn? i've only seen one in the wild, though I do live down south.

    1. And lo and behold, right after i make this comment i look it up and there are over 200 in existense. Lame!

  6. Have you ever considered visiting a Swensens Restaurant? There's only 3 left in the US (one of them is in my home state of Texas): http://swensensicecream.com/storelocator/allstores.php

    Another one to visit would be Tony Roma's which is down to 7 locations in the US (the last two locations in Texas closed last year do to COVID): https://locations.tonyromas.com/united-states

    1. Tony Roma's was on my radar, but Swenson's wasn't. Thanks for the tip.

      I'm in Michigan, so it would be easier for me to visit Canadian locations of both Swenson's and Tony Roma's, which I might do, if Canada ever decides to let Americans in again.

    2. Here's two more:

      Alfie's Fish N Chips: a chain that tried to expand very far and wide in the late 60s-early 70s and is now down to just one location in Lompoc, Ca (dining room still closed due to COVID): http://www.alfiesfish.com/home.html

      Furr's was once a huge buffet chain that was owned by Kmart at one point but is now down to 15 locations (closest to you would be Arkansas): https://furrs.net/locations/

      Also I don't know if Winchell's Donuts would count since they only have locations in 6 states (they have more locations overseas): https://winchells.com/locations

    3. Thanks for the tips. I didn't realize Furr's had shrunk as much as it has. I'll plan a stop at one or two of them the next time I'm down that way.

      Winchell's and Alfie's are on a long list of west coast broken chains I'd like to visit hopefully sooner rather than later.

  7. Are you familiar with Chip’s up in Wisconsin? Great little old chain from the 1960’s. I travel a lot with work and get to try many different places around the country. Recently was in Wisconsin again and had to go back to Chip’s. As I arrived the smoke was bellowing out from the building. Great charbroiled burgers.
    How about Penguin Point in Indiana?
    Just a couple good one’s that have been around for a while.

    1. Chip's is on my to do list. Last I heard there was one open in Merrill and another in Wisconsin Rapids. I'll verify that before I head that way.

      Penguin Point is suggested to me frequently, but I'm not sure if they're a broken chain. I haven't seen much evidence that they had a much larger presence than they do now.

  8. In the early 60s, there was a chain of mcd type fast foot burger outlets called COS COBBER. They MAY have been limited to Connecticut, but I've heard rumors that there were/was a NY presence as well. I do know that there were locations in Bridgeport, Stratford, West Haven and Branford, CT. One would assume there was one in Cos Cob CT as well. I have no idea what happened to them, when they started or disintegrated. But they were my favorite 15 cent burger back in those days. Sure would like to know a bot about them.

    1. A little Googling shows there's a restaurant by that name in Cos Cob, but it appears to be sit down place with a full bar, so probably unrelated.

  9. Really enjoying your posts. Good to see someone following in Sam's footsteps. Miss that dude a lot.

    1. I miss him too. Thanks for reading and for the favorable comparison.

  10. Hello.. ever been to Ames, Bradlees, Caldor or Howdy? Ames, Bradlees and Caldor were department stores in the northeast. Howdy was a burger chain in New England in the 60s and 70s...


    1. I grew up in the '90s outside of the territory for Ames, Bradlees, and Caldor, and they were defunct by the time I could drive, so those are experiences I missed out on. We had Hills where I grew up, and I can remember going there a few times with my aunt in the '90s. Hills and Ames merged in late '90s as I recall.

      Howdy Beef 'n Burger was before my time as well. My research shows that there are none left, but I'll keep my eye out for stragglers the next time I'm in the Northeast.