A place to recall and celebrate the wonderful stores of a Downtown Boston now alive only in our memories

Sunday 4 September 2011

Retro Lunch at Schrafft's in Boston....Very Tasty!!

Hello, My Fellow "HUNGRY" Retro Boston Lovers!

A recent email from Ed got me back in my “Sherlock” mode again and I began yet another investigation into the wonderful retro past of our dear Boston.

Ed recalled fondly the delightful concept of a full day shopping plus having lunch out while “in town”. He was keen to know more about the once legendary Schrafft’s and its various locations in the Boston area. So....I took a big bite into the retro world of "Boston at lunch"...and what a “sweet” mouthful it was!

Schrafft’s, for me, will forever be a box of delicious chocolates in fancy wrappings...for those older than me....it will be the Schrafft’s Stores which contained an amazing patchwork of soda fountain, full-service restaurant , bar and a huge candy and baked goods display. The various shops came in different sizes but each contained most of the above features in some way. In Boston, Schrafft’s on West Street was the main location. The 1920’s building, designed for the company, was a gold star example of what eating out “in town” was all about!

Note the wonderful scans of the plans for the West Street shop....nothing left out!
Schrafft’s Stores became the place in Boston to rent function rooms and hold annual meetings and be looked after in style.

The company was a great Boston success story and began as a simple local candy making establishment in 1861. The company grew with the addition of new leadership and began the venture into the world of candy shops and restaurants in the early 1900’s. New York City became the place for the first few locations but Boston soon followed with two locations....one on Summer Street and the other on West.
New York City was filled with Schrafft’s locations by the late 1930’s and Boston would have further stores added as well, they included two on Boylston Street, one on Milk Street and another in Cambridge on Brattle Street. Another in Brookline would open during the next decade and that would be seven stores in total by 1950 in and around Boston!

The business boomed and eating at one of the Schrafft’s Stores in Boston was part of the “in town” experience for thousands of shoppers from the early 1900’s right up until the early 1970’s.

Schrafft’s was known as the kind of place you could see a refined old lady sipping a cocktail at one table, a group of suits lunching and talking shop at another and a gaggle of kids licking ice cream cones over at the counter....something for everyone and at prices all could afford.

It’s fun to note that all the Boston locations were shut on Sundays except the one at 356 Boylston Street in the Back Bay. Why? Back in those days the Back Bay was so full of church goers that needed lunch after all the many Back Bay churches released their crowds, that any restaurant in this area would have been foolish not to “make hay while the sun shines”!

Schrafft’s last big Boston venture was the opening of its Prudential Center branch in the mid-1960’s. The venture was costly since the Prudential Center did not really take off as planned....and like so many legends of retro Boston retailing...the 1970’s economy hit hard and business began to decline.
All the locations in Boston were closed by 1973 and the large space in the Prudential Center became The Ground Round in late 1974. New Yorkers would also see the demise of their Schrafft's restaurants & stores during this decade as well.

Please enjoy this fond look back at one of the most beloved eateries of retro Boston and thanks to Ed for making his request and sending me on a totally tasty trip back in time!!


ps....A BIG THANK YOU to Jan for sending me this Schrafft's in Brooklyn
menu scan from 1931!!!! Tasty selections indeed!!!!





Denholms said...

Charles, I walk by these buildings all the time, and it is so great to see the grandeur that they once had. Amazing as always. I love your posts!

Charles Boston said...

Thanks so much!!!!!!!!!!!

tonyeewu said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.