Helpful ReplyHot!"Adventures in Good Eating" - what restaurants from it are still open?

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Ketteract
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2016/04/06 18:30:54 (permalink)

"Adventures in Good Eating" - what restaurants from it are still open?

So I just discovered this:
 

 

 
Written by no less than the real Duncan Hines, and first printed in 1935.  I'm not sure how I overlooked this before, but now I'm keen on obtaining a copy.  
 
I am curious, though, to know which of the restaurants listed in this reference are still operational as of today.  If Mr. Hines ever made it to Connecticut, then maybe I would know of a few.  
post edited by Ketteract - 2016/04/06 18:33:26
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ChiTownDiner
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Re: "Adventures in Good Eating" - what restaurants from it are still open? 2016/04/06 18:46:39 (permalink)
One of our Roadfood members - Louis - is perhaps the definitive author and researcher on Duncan Hines.  He's written books and conducted lectures throughout the US on this very subject (I've seen him in action - exciting!) and perhaps he will spot this thread and offer comments.
 
I have several of Duncan Hines' books on restaurants and lodging.  Good stuff!
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JRPfeff
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Re: "Adventures in Good Eating" - what restaurants from it are still open? 2016/04/06 19:18:16 (permalink)
Thanks CTD, Louis' book is available at Amazon.
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MetroplexJim
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Re: "Adventures in Good Eating" - what restaurants from it are still open? 2016/04/07 07:49:14 (permalink)
When I was a kid" in the '50's/'60's a restaurant's being "Recommended by Duncan Hines" was the equivalent of today's Michelin stars.
 
My hometown of New Wilmington, PA has one such place, The Tavern, which drew its clientele from all over Western Pennsylvania; this, despite the fact that New Wilmington was (and still is!) a "dry" town with an active chapter of the WCTU.
 
After the owner and her "Chef Dean" passed, the business was sold and reopened seven years ago as The Tavern on the Square.  Many of Dean's original dishes and recipes are still served to wonderful reviews.
 

 
I can't count the number of times I have dined there since 1962; I still make it a point to dine there every time I return.  I have never been disappointed.
 
BTW:  compliant with local ordinance, it's BYOB (wine only).
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wanderingjew
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Re: "Adventures in Good Eating" - what restaurants from it are still open? 2016/04/07 08:01:18 (permalink)
MetroplexJim
When I was a kid" in the '50's/'60's a restaurant's being "Recommended by Duncan Hines" was the equivalent of today's Michelin stars.
 
My hometown of New Wilmington, PA has one such place, The Tavern, which drew its clientele from all over Western Pennsylvania; this, despite the fact that New Wilmington was (and still is!) a "dry" town with an active chapter of the WCTU.
 
After the owner and her "Chef Dean" passed, the business was sold and reopened seven years ago as The Tavern on the Square.  Many of Dean's original dishes and recipes are still served to wonderful reviews.
 

 
I can't count the number of times I have dined there since 1962; I still make it a point to dine there every time I return.  I have never been disappointed.
 
BTW:  compliant with local ordinance, it's BYOB (wine only).




The Tavern also used to be in the old Roadfood books. This was back in the day before "grown up grilled cheese" and "pork belly" were the dishes du jour.
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lleechef
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Re: "Adventures in Good Eating" - what restaurants from it are still open? 2016/04/07 11:13:20 (permalink)
I ate at The Tavern many times but the first was the best.  My roommate's (Westminster College) parents came from NJ to visit.  Her father was an investment banker on Wall Street.  He promptly ordered a cocktail, something like Maker's Mark on the rocks.  The server informed him that New Wilmington was dry.  He was not happy.  Then he looked at the menu and was not impressed with Amish style food.  I guess he was expecting to get a big a** steak like in NYC.  He quipped after the meal, "Jesus, they should require a Senior Citizen's Card to get in there!" 
post edited by lleechef - 2016/04/07 11:17:41
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MetroplexJim
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Re: "Adventures in Good Eating" - what restaurants from it are still open? 2016/04/07 19:08:28 (permalink)
Chef Lee, your reminiscence somehow made the name of the Tavern's founder and proprietor suddenly appear in my memory:  Cora Durrast.  That led me to a nice 'history' of the place.
 
Another peculiarity of the establishment 'back in the day' was cash only for payment.  When your NYC host pulled out his Diner's Club or AmEx to pay the bill he was in for yet another surprise.
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Davydd
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Re: "Adventures in Good Eating" - what restaurants from it are still open? 2016/04/07 19:20:40 (permalink)
What the hey, I was well into adulthood before I knew what a credit card was.
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Louis
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Re: "Adventures in Good Eating" - what restaurants from it are still open? 2016/04/07 19:23:01 (permalink) ☄ Helpfulby Heartbreaksoup 2016/04/08 22:31:50
Back in 2007 I tried to determine how many of Duncan Hines recommended restaurants were still around.  There were quite a few of them; but further investigation revealed that--more often than not--they were not of the same standard that Duncan Hines had when he recommended them.  Many served a completely different kind of cuisine than they did 80 years ago.  Maybe 80% were just sort of hanging on by the last threads of existence.  I noticed that within a year after I made my survey that many had permanently closed their doors.  And every year afterward, I noticed that a few more closed.  Nothing lasts forever.
 
Eighty years is a long time for a restaurant to be in business and have the same consistency of quality decade after decade.  So those that are still around and serve good quality food should receive some kind of award or recognition.
 
I would suggest that it might be good website project---or even a book---to track down all of the restaurants that Duncan Hines recommended (1936 to 1961) that are still in existence.  One might start by acquiring as many of the guidebooks as possible.  There are a lot of them, because Hines made frequent changes in them; he could do this because he was also his own publisher.  He wouldn't let anyone else handle the books.  He controlled his own destiny; he didn't leave it in the hands of others.  Sometimes he made new editions with as little as 300 copies at a time so he could edit out any restaurants that had closed---or were pulled from the book for other reasons.
 
I once thought about doing something like the above, but I think such a task should be in the hands of people younger than I am.  I am more than happy to pass the torch to any roadfooders (or anyone else) who wants to keep the memory of Duncan Hines alive.
 
Just a little background: Duncan Hines was essentially the first roadfooder--going back to 1905 when he first started collecting his restaurant information for himself and his fellow traveling salesmen.  He and his wandering compatriots needed this information in an era where restaurant food poisoning was a very common, daily experience.  Hines knew where all the sanitary places were that also had high quality food.  It was this initial fact that made his name and reputation across America in the 1930s; that's why the restaurant guidebook was so popular.  There's nothing like fear of the unknown to get people to buy a book--particularly one that was highly accurate when tested through experience.
 
Through that annual guidebook, during the 1940s Hines used his popularity to force the restaurant industry to come up to his standards--and every restaurant owner wanted to get in it so they could reap the economic rewards.
 
Hines would not include a restaurant in his book unless it had everything he demanded--such as having the latest in modern kitchen appliances to keep kitchens sparkling clean; not washing the dishes in the sink, etc.--simple things that we take for granted today.
 
And if any of his recommended restaurants ever did anything that displeased him--such as refusing to give a restaurant patron a tour of the kitchen--no one heard of that restaurant ever again; he was through with them.  So every restaurant had to stay on their toes if they wanted to be in the book.  The public highly appreciated Hines' efforts, and his popularity eventually led--after his retirement--to his name being placed on a cake mix.  It was a way for Procter and Gamble to capitalize on his name--as well as a way to show appreciation for all he had done.
 
I'm always available to talk about Duncan Hines--formally or informally.  If someone wants to do a book or website on the restaurants that he recommended that are still around, I'm available to help.
 
post edited by Louis - 2016/04/07 19:28:26
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ChiTownDiner
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Re: "Adventures in Good Eating" - what restaurants from it are still open? 2016/04/07 20:03:07 (permalink)
After your talk in Chicago, I purchsed several of Duncs books online for pennies. I have enjoyed reading them and appreciate the effort you have put into preserving this wonderful piece of history.  Thanks Louis!  BTW,any upcoming lecture dates?
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lleechef
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Re: "Adventures in Good Eating" - what restaurants from it are still open? 2016/04/07 20:33:36 (permalink)
Louis
Thank you so much for your post!!  It is so informative about the "roadfood" of that era and mostly about Duncan Hines about whom I knew nothing.  I may have to get a used copy of "Adventures in Good Eating". 
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rumaki
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Re: "Adventures in Good Eating" - what restaurants from it are still open? 2016/04/08 01:46:36 (permalink)
Thank you, Louis.
 
Saveur did a short article on this topic back in 2008.
 
http://www.saveur.com/article/Travels/Adventures-in-Good-Eating
 
The writers concentrated on Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, West Virginia and Ohio.
 
I know Hollyhock Hill and Beaumont Inn are still going strong, as I have visited both in the past year.
 
Note that there is (apparently) a permanent Duncan Hines exhibit at the library at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green.
 
 
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Louis
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Re: "Adventures in Good Eating" - what restaurants from it are still open? 2016/04/08 21:39:03 (permalink)
I'll try to answer your questions.  I had a couple of speaking dates on Duncan Hines in 2015;  I'm with the Kentucky Speakers' Bureau which is run by the Kentucky Humanities Council in Lexington.  I don't have any speaking date planned yet for this year, but it's early.
 
According to the curator, about 80% of the permanent Duncan Hines exhibit at the Kentucky Museum in Bowling Green was based on my book.  It's a good exhibit, and it has some things that are not in my book.  It's worth an hour of your time.
 
The Duncan Hines guidebooks are not hard to find.  Go to abebooks.com or Amazon.  That's where I go to find rare books.
 
I had a hand in shaping that Saveur article.  The editor asked for my help in locating the restaurants mentioned.
 
post edited by Louis - 2016/05/22 18:07:39
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JRPfeff
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Re: "Adventures in Good Eating" - what restaurants from it are still open? 2016/04/08 21:51:05 (permalink)

I read this article last week and didn't know where to post it, but it seems much related to Duncan Hines. The author's grandfather was a traveling salesman in the Midwest who collected menus on his travels. I think that he would have consulted Mr. Hines' books when he traveled and may have even met Duncan.

Of the five restaurants in the article, only Karl Ratzsch's remains open, but they recently changed owners. It appears that the new owners will try to keep the restaurant's traditional roots.
post edited by JRPfeff - 2016/04/08 21:54:43
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MetroplexJim
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Re: "Adventures in Good Eating" - what restaurants from it are still open? 2016/04/09 10:15:36 (permalink)
My very first 'adult' dining experience was January 4, 1952 at the Duncan Hines recommended English Room of the George Washington Hotel in my birthplace of Washington, PA.  The occasion was my 4th. birthday - just prior to my being enrolled in Mrs. Corwin's kindergarten in East Washington.  It was also the first time I ever had shrimp! 
 
Today, with all the $$$ flowing from fracking the Marcellus Shale, the hotel has been restored to its former grandeur.  Simply wonderful!  Even though it is now used only as one of their lesser 'event' rooms, this contemporary picture of what was then the 'fine dining' venue of the hotel got the memory of that evening flowing:
 

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Louis
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Re: "Adventures in Good Eating" - what restaurants from it are still open? 2016/04/09 14:13:25 (permalink)
The Washington Hotel is only a couple of days' drive for me.  If I have a chance, I'll visit it.  Looks interesting.
 
I was studying that menu posted above.  Maybe it's just me, but there is something quaint and yet quite charming about finding cheese on a dessert menu.  In an era where restaurants try to top one another by offering customers overly sweet, gargantuan desserts that they cannot possibly complete, there is something attractive about serving a gentle, simple dessert, one designed to soothe the palate rather than overwhelm it.  I guess there are restaurants that still do this, but I don't see them very often.
 
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MetroplexJim
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Re: "Adventures in Good Eating" - what restaurants from it are still open? 2016/04/10 14:22:04 (permalink)
Louis
I guess there are restaurants that still do this, but I don't see them very often.



This is quite typical in Paris, where they really know how to cook ... and how to eat.
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Re: "Adventures in Good Eating" - what restaurants from it are still open? 2016/04/11 19:09:03 (permalink)
Thanks to Louis, I just got the Duncan Hines question on Jeopardy correct!
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ScreamingChicken
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Re: "Adventures in Good Eating" - what restaurants from it are still open? 2016/04/11 20:51:47 (permalink)
What was the question?
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JRPfeff
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Re: "Adventures in Good Eating" - what restaurants from it are still open? 2016/04/11 20:56:22 (permalink)
"Who was Duncan Hines?"
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JRPfeff
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Re: "Adventures in Good Eating" - what restaurants from it are still open? 2016/04/11 20:57:39 (permalink)
buffetbuster - What was the answer?
 
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buffetbuster
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Re: "Adventures in Good Eating" - what restaurants from it are still open? 2016/04/11 22:49:33 (permalink)
The category was "D.H.", so all the questions were people with those initials, such as Daryl Hall and Dashiell Hammett. Specifically, the answer concerned cake mixes.
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JRPfeff
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Re: "Adventures in Good Eating" - what restaurants from it are still open? 2016/04/16 09:53:46 (permalink)
Apple pie without rat cheese is minus the "umpth."
 
I purchased The Dessert Book by Duncan Hines, Edited by Louis Hatchett for Pie Diva because she loves old recipes and cookbooks. Reading the introduction by Louis was a real pleasure. I really enjoy his writing and have purchased the other 2 Hines' books by Louis.
 
The quote at the top is from the back cover of The Dessert Book. I had never heard of "rat cheese," but apparently it was a common term when Duncan was traveling.
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MetroplexJim
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Re: "Adventures in Good Eating" - what restaurants from it are still open? 2016/04/16 10:51:01 (permalink)
JRPfeff
Apple pie without rat cheese is minus the "umpth."
 
I had never heard of "rat cheese," but apparently it was a common term when Duncan was traveling.



Yellow/orange cheeses such as Longhorn, Colby, or Cheddar were called "rat cheese" because little cubes of it were found to be the most effective bait on the 'old school' mouse and rat traps.
 
Even though I haven't heard that term in years I do recall that my father loved a nice hunk of Longhorn to nibble at as he enjoyed apple pie.  When such was 'handy' I've tried it a few times and I must say that the combination is quite tasty. 
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Louis
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Re: "Adventures in Good Eating" - what restaurants from it are still open? 2016/04/16 19:12:03 (permalink)
Well, thank you, Mr. Pfeff, for that nice complement.  I always try to write for the ear, if I can.  Duncan Hines always had a rafter of great one-liners to get his points across, such as food that was so good that it made one wish for hollow legs.  The footnotes in the back of the Duncan Hines biography have a few good anecdotes, such as the fate of his dog, Bruno, as well as his most unusual septic tank (which I think still exists).  When the editors threw out 400 pages of the original 750-page manuscript, I managed to save some of what they wanted to eliminate by putting them in the footnotes.
 
post edited by Louis - 2016/04/16 19:13:39
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Re: "Adventures in Good Eating" - what restaurants from it are still open? 2016/04/16 21:22:47 (permalink)
I have one of his "hotel" books. It's fun reading! 
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Louis
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Re: "Adventures in Good Eating" - what restaurants from it are still open? 2016/04/17 18:35:17 (permalink)
Going back to Ketteract's original question, this site may be a start in getting an answer to the question as to what Duncan Hines recommended restaurants are still open.  It's not complete, but I wonder if the originator of the site would like some help from some roadfooders who are interested in roadfood history.  It's worth a shot.
 
http://www.adventuresingoodeating.org/
 
 
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JRPfeff
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Re: "Adventures in Good Eating" - what restaurants from it are still open? 2016/04/17 20:49:39 (permalink)
Louis - I've got to wonder if buffetbuster has a different tattered list in his pocket of Adventures in Good Eating restaurants he is patiently working his way through.
 
I found Mader's discussed as a favorite of Duncan in your book. They are still operating with their traditional German menu in Milwaukee. I think I prefer Mader's to Karl Ratzsch's (pictured above) as my favorite German restaurant.
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JRPfeff
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Re: "Adventures in Good Eating" - what restaurants from it are still open? 2016/04/18 10:17:24 (permalink)
Louis,

I'm a quarter of the way through the Kindle version of your book and really am enjoying it. I didn't realize Hines was a Chicago resident, so it was a surprise to see all the Wisconsin towns he took roadtrips to for the food. He really set the stage for the current adventures of The Contingent. We really need to research and take a Duncan Hines Eat & Greet of the area some time.

Getting back to the original topic (are they still open?), the book says that Duncan and his wife went to the Heaven City School to dine in 1937. I believe the school later became the Heaven City Restaurant and is now operating as a supper club. The restaurant definitely has a pre-WWII feel to it, including a really nice bar.

Jim
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JRPfeff
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Re: "Adventures in Good Eating" - what restaurants from it are still open? 2016/04/18 15:41:18 (permalink)
ChiTownDiner
After your talk in Chicago, I purchsed several of Duncs books online for pennies. I have enjoyed reading them and appreciate the effort you have put into preserving this wonderful piece of history.  Thanks Louis!  BTW,any upcoming lecture dates?

CTD - What I need now is a spreadsheet of all the Contingent-area restaurants listed in the books you purchased. We can then determine how many are still in existence and how many serve anything close to what was reviewed.

When can you have the spreadsheet done?

Thanks.
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