Today we're running the first of what I hope to be a series called "My Place in History." Museum visitors often tell me about favorite spots in Edina (or near our borders) that evoke strong memories. A photo of Minnehaha Creek will prompt stories about fishing or rafting or --- in the case of a group of friends over age 90 -- skinny-dipping as boys on the way home from Wooddale School. An ad for the Biltmore hotel often starts conversations about first nights in Edina, wedding receptions and pool parties. In every case, unfortunately, I don't have a microphone or time to document those great stories.
A few weeks ago, visitor Rosemary Strobel was reminiscing about the Tastee Treet, located on the Minneapolis side of 44th and France. Many former Morningside youngsters have sighed about that summer-time institution of their childhood, but I wanted more details. Rosemary kindly agreed to write down what she remembered, and she even sent a couple of photos.
I would love to read more stories about places important to Edinans. I hope you are inspired to write about your own place in history and send us your story.
By Rosemary Strobel
The old Tastee Treet was popular with us neighborhood kids since forever. It had six red stools inside by the order counter for people to eat in the AC. Then there were the cheap seats outdoors under the awning. One year they were really old patio tables and lawn chairs.
It was open from around noon until 10 p.m. all summer from May to the start of cold weather in late September or October. It served O-rings, Fries, Grilled Burgers and all sorts of ice cream desserts and drinks. The place was usually frantic with the day's soccer or ball game crowd from Linden Hills Park. A guy named Clark owned or managed the place most of the time I knew it. In the winter, he sold Christmas trees out in front of it.
There was a big older woman who ran the antiquated 1950's flat top grill. I can still picture her dealing out cheese onto the sliders like it was a deck of cards.
At night, the place glowed like a Chinese lantern. Gaudy turquoise and red and white neon framed its rooftop sign, sizzlingly white fluorescent lamps filled the refrigerated glass enclosed room with a cold unearthly glow. Outside under the metal canopy, millers and smaller insects threw themselves at the security lights or fluttered around the ballast ends of yellow masked fluorescent bulbs under the eaves. And there was ALWAYS the happy music, usually 1950's from a local Oldies radio station, issuing from a well-placed PA speaker on the apex of the awning.
Tastee Treet closed in 1991 to another "family," who ran it as Tastee Treet for a season or two, then it was made into Big Mike's Super Subs about 2000-2002 where the only change to the building was a different sign.
Unfortunately, the sign atop the new business still had the ice cream image from the Tastee Treet. The only problem: ice cream was not on the menu. Very confusing for customers and irritating for staff. Eventually, the ice cream cone was painted over.Sadly, when Milio's came, they clad the entire cute little building in its current drabness and removed the ice cream cone signboard on the roof in favor of the current neon signage. I was once inside, just before Big Mike's became Milio's. It was still like Tastee Treet, but the interior had been opened up and painted white, the stools removed, the ice cream machine was replaced by a self-serve pop fountain machine and the kitchen was closed off from the order area and presumably also remodeled inside.
My dad is a rail fan, and we went to lots steam trains and transportation museums when I was growing up. We visited ruined mills, power dams and South Dakota ghost towns. We hung out in the same pine woods that greeted George Washington and picked berries by the old iron forges. Of course, dad was a motorman at Lake Harriet, and I played on the old section of tracks that used to be in the alley the near Xerxes Avenue. I really got into old neighborhood history 1979 with the columns Mr. Dudley Parsons wrote on Edina and the stories the old streetcar guys told in their magazine.
Just an ordinary person who likes to find out what was here and learn about the places I pass every day, until they are sold, remodeled or levelled and built brand new.
Rosemary Strobel grew up in southwest Minneapolis in October 1974 and attend St. Peter's Lutheran at 5401 Fuller Ave. and Minneapolis Lutheran High, which had newly moved into the second floor of the Edina East building.
Who remembers going to Mr. Steak and not eating steak?
Probably any kid dining out with their parents chose something off the children's menu instead. At least, Ron and Linda Shirk's three daughters did when they were growing up in Edina in the 1970s and 1980s. Then, they brought home the menus and played restaurant at home with their neighborhood friends.
The Shirks donated the menus, saved for more than three decades, when we created the "Growing Up in Edina" exhibit last year.
The menus reflect their time. The Steak and Ale art looks like the popular arcade game Pac-Man, and all the girls in the artwork seem to be wearing skirts or dresses.
Even the food has changed. While hamburgers and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are staples on these menus, none featured the ubiquitous chicken tenders of today (although Mr. Steak offered fried chicken and Byerly's had a chicken drumstick.)
And of course, kids' menu prices -- while still the cheaper option on today's menus -- have risen a bit from the $1.09 hot dog meal or the $1.89 spaghetti and meat sauce.Cindy Nein Twistol noted onour Facbook page that children's menu items "were the free employee meals when I worked at the Lyndale (Mr. Steak) for 5 years, too. Yum - makes me hungry."
What about you? What were your favorite children's menu foods? Where did your family go out to eat when you were growing up? Comment here or email me.
Cedric’s restaurant seemed to have all the ingredients for success when it opened in 1959: a great location at Highway 100 and then 169 (now Vernon Avenue), white tablecloth service in the area’s wealthiest suburb, and a much beloved nationally famous owner, Cedric Adams.
The restaurant failed, many say, because people couldn’t have wine with dinner. At the time, the city of Edina was “dry” with no alcohol allowed at restaurants and no bars in the city limits. While the law didn’t affect lunch counters and casual restaurants, diners wanted a drink when they celebrated at a "fancy" restaurant like Cedric's. (Interestingly enough, Cedric had quit drinking years before and had written about his struggles with alcohol.)
I would have to do more research to find out when Cedric's closed, but longtime residents say it didn't last long. Cedric’s other business ventures in Edina were more successful: Cedrics men’s clothing store and the Biltmore Motel, just down the road from Cedric’s restaurant. And he always had his professional career to fall back on. (See blog post on broadcast career.)
This November 1959 ad announcing grand opening of Cedric’s Fine Foods offered “Orchids for the ladies – Cigars for the men. Surprises for the kiddies!”
“I’ll explain that last one – no high chairs,” Cedric wrote in a column. He said he knew the restaurant business would be demanding, “but I never realized that the demands could be so varied. The rolls are too hard. The rolls are too soft. The plates are too cold. The plates are too hot.”
Do you have photographs of dinner out at Cedric’s? Please help us document this “history-maker” in Edina.
Update 6/15/2010 - Still no correct answer.
Here is my first contest for blog readers: Tell me what is the name of the restaurant pictured in this great photo above and where was it located? Submit your answer by email before July 30. A winner will be chosen from all correct answers. Prize: One year membership to the Edina Historical Society and a free book, From Settlement to Suburb: The History of Edina, Minnesota by Paul D. Hesterman.
(Yes, I do know the answer but I'm not telling until after the contest is over.)
UPDATE: And the winner is.... Becky Rose, who correctly entered Hawkins Confectionary, located at the northwest corner of 44th and France.
Many of you guessed Clancy's (or the Shadow Box) which did have stools and a lunch counter. This photo, along with others, was donated several years ago by Dick Hawkins of Morningside.
Thanks to all of you for playing. Watch for other contests on this blog.... stay tuned.
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Jennifer Adam is the Executive Director of the Edina Historical Society. She welcomes your contributions. Comment on a post or send an email (see below). Traditional mail, of course, can also be sent to:
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