Forum Cafeterias


Forum Cafeterias

The Forum Cafeteria was a chain of economical cafeteria-style restaurants across America, founded around 1918. They were located in the downtown areas of several major cities. In the 1960's the company expanded its business concept to the booming suburbs, opening shopping center locations at Antioch, Kansas and the Dadeland Shopping Center, southwest of Miami, Florida.

The company was founded by Clarence Hayman (1881-1971) who owned several restaurant venues before establishing the concept of a ground floor cafeteria, in 1921, at 1220 Grand Avenue in Kansas City,Missouri [http://localhistory.kclibrary.org/cdm4/item_viewer.php?CISOROOT=/Local&CISOPTR=5226&CISOBOX=1&REC=16] . He later opened similar branches in other Midwestern cities. Clem Templin (1884-1966) was a vice president of the firm [http://templin.rootsweb.com/clemt1966obit.htm] . The building architect for the cafeterias was George B. Franklin (1883-1953) [http://www.kclibrary.org/localhistory/media.cfm?mediaID=121383]

Locations

Kansas City, Missouri - There were two cafeteria locations in Kansas City. The original was downtown at 1003 Grand Avenue, which was closed and the operation moved to the 1212 Main location, around 1930. It was known in the company as "1212."

The second Kansas City location was at 810 Grand and called the "New System Cafeteria." It may have been established as a venue to test new concepts, processes, recipes, service innovations, etc. This location closed sometime between February 1941 and June 1946. The Forum General Office was at 2300 Fidelity Building.

In St. Louis Missouri the Forum was at 307 North Seventh Street.

The Minneapolis site was at 36 South 7th Street. The owners of the Art Deco Strand Theater sold that property to Forum Cafeterias of America, Inc. in 1929. The building was extensively remodeled by removing the stage and making changes necessary to bring it in line with the needs of a cafeteria. When the Forum closed in the 1970's, the space was used as a nightclub, Scotties on Seventh. After that enterprise closed, many of the furnishings were placed into storage when the building was demolished. The interior furnishings were rebuilt within the City Center complex and the space was used by Goodfellows restaurant. Additional information at James Lileks' site [http://www.lileks.com/mpls/forum/index.html]

The Houston, Texas store was located at 816 Main Street.

Cleveland, Ohio, its address was 2050 East Ninth Street, at the corner of Ninth and Euclid

The Chicago, Illinois Forum was located in the Loop, at 64 W. Madison Street. A view of the interior can be found here [http://www.cardcow.com/50642/chicagos-beautiful-new-forum-cafeteria-64-w-madison-st-chicago-us-state-town-views-illinois-chicago/#img]

Los Angeles was opened sometime after 1941 and before June 1946. Its address was 620 South Broadway, adjacent to the Palace Theater. It was named Schaber's cafeteria in a 1946 company publication.

The Miami location opened in October 1962. It was in the Dadeland Shopping center, now Dadeland Mall. It was situated on then rural land, near the Palmetto Expressway, ten miles southwest of downtown Miami.

In suburban Kansas City Missouri at the Antioch Center

The company had a monthly house magazine called Facterias that profiled what was taking place at the different locations with their employees. It also cited service anniversaries at each cafeteria and welcomed new employees by name to the organization.

Physical Layout and Logistics

The cafeteria had separate work divisions, each with their own management and staff; the Bake Shop, Salads, Kitchen, Pot Wash, Dish Line, Dish Transfer, Serving Line, Cashier. Rarely did employees cross over and work in the other disciplines, although one could work their way up to other positions.

There were two long cafeteria lines where diners queued up and could view and select the items they wanted. Taking a tray and a wrapped table service, you slid it down the chromed rails and moved trough first the soups and salads, next entreés, then vegetables, breads and desserts, last was beverages. At the end of the line was a cashier who rang up your selections, you paid, and then found a place to sit and enjoy a freshly prepared meal.

Specialties

* Chicken Pot Pies - The filling consisted of diced potatoes, carrots and chicken, with onions and peas, covered with a ladle of chicken gravy and topped with the crusty cover, baked on site in the bakeshop.
* Chicken Giblets and Noodles – homemade egg noodles (eggs, water, flour, salt rolled out the night before to dry, folded and hand sliced, then boiled) combined with chicken gizzards, heart and livers. There was also a Noodles and Gravy for the more faint of heart.
* Ham and Beans – large lima (butter) beans combined with strips of ham and simmered for hours
* Chicken Fried Steak – were cubed steaks, dredged in egg and flour and then fried on the grill
* Spanish Omelet - a one and a half egg omelet dressed with "Spanish Sauce"; that being a tomato based sauce containing diced green and red peppers and onions
* Raisin Pie
* Waldorf Salad
* Combination salad - large bowl of lettuce, with carrot strips, tomato and egg wedges, dressed with your choice of French, Thousand Island, "Roquefort" or Oil and Vinegar
* Fresh Strawberry Shortcake

Employees could eat at a 25% discount. The amount would be taken from their paychecks.


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