Remembering Great Restaurants of the Past

As I was setting down this morning to have my Special K cereal (I’m trying to lose a few pounds and eat healthy), I couldn’t help but think about some of the better breakfasts I’ve had.  And the first thing that entered my mind was a stack of buttermilk pancakes, sausage, and a tall glass of milk served at Wanda’s Place/aka John’s Restaurant/aka Don’s Restaurant here in West Liberty.  As you’ll remember, that restaurant was where the Commercial Bank Drive-Thru is now located.  This restaurant was more than just a place to eat.  It was a staple of West Liberty.  As a child, I remember fondly of going there most mornings with my Dad, as he talked to the morning restaurant patrons about politics, sports, and the weather.  I also remember our family spending many a Sunday afternoon there, having dinner…fried chicken, of course, and just enjoying the food so well.  That restaurant had a special place in my heart, no only because of the great food, but because it reminds me of special times spent with my family, and especially my Dad.  Also, it was a ritual that every Sorghum Festival, you could find us there on Friday morning having a big breakfast to celebrate the festival.

Another great dining establishment that I remember well was The Frontier House/aka The Pioneer House, operated by Linda Hill.  Her food was so good, and I also remember spending many a morning there with my Dad, doing the same that we did at Wanda’s Place, dicussing the hot news of the town.  Sometimes, after I was finished eating, I would even help the staff roll up silverware in napkins as we listened to the group talk.

And who could forget Hardee’s, our very first nationally known fast-food restaurant.  The very best bacon, egg, & cheese biscuits you ever put in your mouth!  I remember my Mom would stop and get a bag full and put them in the freezer so we could warm them up.  And they were still just as good!  The biscuits were as flaky and buttery of any I’ve ever ate.  And I never stopped by Hardee’s that I didn’t get a large drink, or MOOSE cup to-go!  I hated to see Hardee’s close when they did, but I feel their biggest weakness during that time was their menu.  When the chain finally decided in the late 90’s to become “the place for burgers”, they finally found their niche.  Too bad “our” Hardee’s isn’t there today with these new menu items.  It would have been an awesome place to eat…EVERYDAY!  They have the best burgers of anyone in the business, and their breakfast is the best of any fast-food chain!

Two more of my favorite restaurants are not in West Liberty, but I feel deserve an honorable mention since they were very good places to eat!  One being Cutter’s Restaurant in Morehead, which was where Lowe’s is located today.  The food and atmosphere was great!  But, two of my absolute favorites were their dinner rolls, smeared with honey butter, and their salads with honey mustard dressing!  And if anyone has that dressing recipe, please contact me.  That was the best tasting dressing I’ve ever had.  I spent many a day at Cutter’s while in college at Morehead State University.  Great times!  The other restaurant that was literally the most awesome place ever was The New Orleans House in Lexington.  The best seafood and steaks on the face of this earth!  And you were served more than you could ever hope to eat.  I remember going with my parents as a child, and all I can say is that it was the very best.

I hope you have enjoyed this short trip down memory lane.    Think about some of your favorite foods and restaurants from days gone by.  Feel free to share your favorite memories.  And always remember that great food spawns great memories…in a Morgan Minute!

  • http://morganminute.com adminDave

    David, John’s/Don’s was absolutely one of my favorites.  The “Big Zeta” hamburger was my favorite, but I was also a big fan of their spaghetti.  That was also the first place I was ever served club crackers with cole slaw, and I absolutely loved it…still do!

    In addition to the food, the atmosphere was so great…all of the stools lined up at the counter.  It was truly a neighborhood restaurant, and I miss it a lot.  West Liberty could use something like that again.

    One that is a DISTANT memory was down beside the old bridge in town, called Scotty’s.  They were a small diner, with stools down the counter and maybe a few tables, and their burgers were similar to White Castle.  I can remember going there with my mom and the SMELL was just so good, of all those burgers cooking, and the fries.  It burned down while I was still very young, but it made an impression on me (you can still visit a Scotty’s down near Jellico Mountain off of I-75, by the way…in Caryville, TN…I might have to head down there some time!).

    The Frontier House/Pioneer House was good, too, and I agree that a Hardee’s in West Liberty now would probably thrive.  I guess timing really IS everything.

    I wasn’t a HUGE Cutter’s fan, but I did like it.  A couple of my favorites from Morehead, though, were Clara’s (a pizza/Italian place that later became Boomerang’s, and then became a parking lot), and The China Garden.  Clara’s had telephones at the tables, and you would use them to place your order.  I really don’t remember much about the food…I just loved the phones and their jukebox!

    The China Garden was just an AMAZING Chinese restaurant, and their General Tso’s chicken was so far above and beyond anything you get at the Chinese places in this area now that it isn’t even funny…I’m not positive, but that may have been the first place I ever had actual Chinese food (and not LaChoy from a can…lol).

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane…I’m hungry now!!

  • http://morganminute.com adminDave